The LED part of AMOLED stands for Light Emitting Diode. It’s the same tech as you find on many home appliances that shows that the power is on with a little red light. An LED display takes this concept, shrinks it down, and arranges the LEDs in red, green and blue clusters to create an individual pixel.
The O in AMOLED stands for organic. It refers to a series of thin organic material films placed between two conductors in each LED. These produce light when a current is applied.
Finally, the AM part in AMOLED stands for Active Matrix, rather than a passive matrix technology. In a passive matrix, a complex grid system is used to control individual pixels, where integrated circuits control a charge sent down each column or row. But this is rather slow and can be imprecise. Active Matrix systems attach a thin film transistor (TFT) and capacitor to each sub-pixel (i.e. red, green or blue) LED. The upshot is that when a row and column is activated the capacitor at the pixel can retain its charge in between refresh cycles, allowing for faster and more precise control.
The image above is a closeup shot of the AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy S8. The RGB triangular pattern is clearly shown. Towards the bottom of the image the green and red LEDs are off and the blue LEDs are on only slightly. This is why AMOLED displays have deep blacks and good contrast.
The pros and cons of AMOLED
Plastic substrate is thin and light.
Plastic substrate offers better shock absorption and less risk of breakage.
Excellent viewing angles.
Potential for a very wide color gamut.
Deep blacks and excellent contrast ratio as individual pixels can be turned off, making it well suited for HDR.
Good energy efficiency and battery life.
More difficult and expensive production techniques (i.e. curved displays), with unoptimized yields affecting availability.
Blue LEDs degrade faster than red or green, reducing the panel’s life cycle before a notable color shift.
“Burn-in” is a risk, as pixels can degrade at different speeds if one part of the display consistently shows a static image.
So what is Super AMOLED and Infinity Display?
Super AMOLED is a marketing term from Samsung. It means a display that incorporates the capacitive touchscreen right in the display, instead of it being a separate layer on top of the display. This makes the display thinner.
As for Infinity Display, it is another marketing term from Samsung which means “a bezel-less, full-frontal, edge-to-edge” display. However, it is still a Super AMOLED unit.
Super AMOLED Plus:
Samsung notes, acts, and conquers. The ‘Plus’ added to Super AMOLED is its upgrade of display features for its devices, the result of which is a better display with approximately 50 percent more sub-pixels (12 sub-pixels instead of 8), and the usage of RGB matrix which is a successor to the previous Pentile Matrix. The resolution is just a few mini inches lower, but it makes no compromise with the thinner, brighter, and more efficient display that the first generation Super AMOLED boasted of. While Super AMOLED Plus reigns over all other smartphone displays in the market, Samsung gears up to a new process of manufacturing their display which targets 330ppi resolution. What makes it a worthy option is its ability to make the screen visible even more in bright light. The images are crisper, and color tone is just incredibly awesome. Well, comparing it with iPhone’s Retina Display is definitely a tough one!
Retina, Retina HD and Super Retina HD displays:
Samsung isn’t the only company that is good at marketing, there is another! Apple has coined the term “Retina” for its displays. The term was first used for its smartphones with the launch of the iPhone 7, as it offered a significantly greater pixel density (over 300 ppi) when compared to the iPhone 6S. Later came Retina HD, which applies to iPhones with at least a 720p screen resolution.
All Retina and Retina HD displays on the iPhone are LCD IPS displays. However, things have changed a bit with the iPhone X as it features an AMOLED display, now marketed under the term Super Retina HD.
It’s still an AMOLED display. It just has extra adjectives.
What sets Retina Display apart from its competitors is the availability of IPS (in-plane switching) technology that offers a wider viewing angle, no matter what angle or way you hold your iPhone. Indeed, the iPhone 4S is the most innovative phone yet. However, the only issue is, the better it becomes in terms of technology, the more its competitors gear up to beat it. So, between Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus and iDevices’ Retina Display.
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