Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Do Pixels Per Inch Matter?

How many Androids equal an iPhone? Some would say that the iPhone is better than them all but the reality is that the healthy competition that is now in the market can only benefit one group – the consumer.

Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola, Dell are all spreading their bets with Windows 7 and MeeGo and Symbian 3 but the reality is that Android is getting the traffic and is a must make for all with multiple model offers. Motorola is clearly one that is pumping up the gigahertz looking at the devices that are coming as competitors for the notebook and of course the iPad. They are already rumoured to be relasing a phone to incorporate the Nvidia Tegra 1GHz apps processor, an iPhone-style gyroscope, Android 2.2 and of course, full Flash 10.1 hardware acceleration.

But the battle is not just about the operating system, how much GHz umph you can get into a phone but also about the display technology.

The new iPhone 4 was has Retina Display which is ultra-high resolution. The system still uses an a backlit LCD display but with advanced In-Plane Switch (IPS) technology to increase resolution, brightness, support a wider viewing angle and increase colour quality. Apple use smaller pixels, more than doubling the number to that in the iPhone 3GS screen. The LCD/IPS combination was first used on the iPad. It is claimed around 300 pixels per inch is the limit of the human retina to differentiate the pixels when a display is viewed some 10 to 12 inches away from your eyes. So at 326 pixels per inch Apple have created a pixel-less world! It could be said they have the closest to print on a small screen.

There are doubters and some who claim 477 is the perfect number but there again its down to the vision of the beholder and someone with 20/20 vision would see it different to someone with less perfect eyesight.

By contrast, top end LG and HTC models and the Sansung Galaxy S will be using an AMOLED display which achieves its effects by using sub-pixel rendering and other advantages are greater range of colours, faster response time, thinner displays, reduced power and no need for backlighting. Samsung claim only a marginally less sharp image than the iPhone 4 and will be only 3 to 5 %. They claim a 30% power advantage which will give the Galaxy S some 576 hours of 3G standby over the iPhone 4’s 300 hours.

Whatever the outcome smartphones are getting smarter and the technology battles rage on many fronts. It is clear that what we will be using shortly in the future will make today’s models look very clunky.

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