SAMOLED and What it Means for you!

After Christmas, there’s no doubt that some of you have picked up the latest Android phone: Nexus S. The Nexus S is highly reminiscent of other phones from Samsung’s Galaxy S series, such as the Vibrant, Fascinate, and Captivate. Most of these phones share the same form factor, 5 MP cameras, and Samsung’s 1 GHz Hummingbird processor. More importantly, they also all share a Super AMOLED 4″ touch display, which will be the topic of this article.

AMOLED stands for active-matrix organic light emitting diode and it contrasts with the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) of other mobile phones, such as the iPhone or Motorola Droid. Super AMOLED is simply a display that integrates the touch technology with the screen. When comparing technologies for screen displays, there are several factors to consider including: picture quality, viewing angles, response time, and power consumption.

Picture quality: In general, the colors and sharpness of the Samsung Vibrant’s SAMOLED screen is superior to the Motorola Droid’s LCD screen.

In the following images, you can see that Samsung’s display colors are more vibrant (pun intended) than the Motorola Droid’s.

Viewing angles: As you can see, the colors display the same at various viewing angles for the Samsung Vibrant’s SAMOLED, while the Motorola Droid’s LCD colors are washed out.

Response time: AMOLED displays have much faster response times compared to LCD’s. This is important for watching fast paced scenes in movies or videos, reducing the effects of motion blur. It also improves gaming experiences with rapid full animation.

Power consumption: This is one of the main selling points of AMOLED. Note that LCD’s typically have a backlight that is another source of battery drain. Even displaying a black background entails using the backlight. AMOLED displays do not require a backlight, and because the display background is already black, it simply does not power the pixel and the black naturally appears. This is hugely beneficial towards battery life and it is also the likely explanation for the color scheme of Gingerbread on the Nexus S (mainly black with green). Note, this also leads to one of the disadvantages of AMOLED. Emitting white colors on an AMOLED actually drains more power than on an LCD. Let this be advice to developers: when designing your applications, consider using black backgrounds with white text in order to save power on phones with AMOLED displays.

Expect to see SAMOLED to be used in more smartphones in the future, as costs of constructing AMOLED displays are going down. There are even more advantages to the technology and if you wish to read more about them, visit this presentation here.