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At What Point are More Pixels Too Many Pixels?

Everybody loves more pixels or at least the manufacturers want us to.  The war for larger more clear display in smartphones is on and has been for a long time.  Manufacturers keep upping the game with larger displays and larger resolutions.  For the larger screen devices, increased the resolution is a good thing as it ensures that our displays are sharp making everything easier to read.

Look at the latest smartphone from LG, the LG G3.  It’s one of the first smartphones to feature a 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution or what they are calling quad HD.   Sounds awesome doesn’t it, but at what point do the extra pixels become irrelevant and only degrade our overall experience?

LG G3 Quad HD Display


Let’s look at the pros of a larger resolution display.

The obvious pro to a larger resolution display is the clarity or sharpness of everything displayed on it.  Text should be cleaner and easier to read and most of the time, higher resolution displays come with the added benefit of better color and overall quality.  Another plus is that we can see more on the display so viewing a web site for example allows us to view more on one screens worth than a lower resolution.

These are pretty significant benefits and I can’t say anything bad about it… BUT…  When do we reach a point where increasing the resolution is unnoticeable with the naked eye, and we can’t see any significant difference?


Now let’s look at the cons of a larger resolution display.

There is one big complaint in smartphones; the batteries don’t last long enough so manufacturers keep adding bigger capacity batteries.  What you may not realize is the more pixels you have on your screen, the harder the processor has to work to render them on your display.  What happens when your processor has to work harder?  It uses more power and your smartphone doesn’t last as long.

The LG G3 has 538 ppi or pixels-per-inch which is the number of pixels that are displayed in one inch of your screen.  The Apple iPhone 5s has a screen resolution of 640 x 1136 on a 4 inch display which equals 326 ppi.  The screen on the Apple iPhone 5S has been considered one of the nicest displays available.  My wife has one for work and I’ve played around with it a little and it does look incredibly good.  Everything is crystal clear, bright and easy on the eyes.



So why do we need more pixels-per-inch?  Because the manufacturers want us to leave more is better and their swanky new device with a 538 ppi display is the best you can get.

While the LG G3 is reported to have an awesome display, is it any better or clearer than the display on an Apple iPhone 5S!


Take a look at the image above.  This is LG’s simulated display comparison of a HD display versus a Quad HD display.  We can see that they a pushing the higher pixels on the right hand side, but you can also see if they are using much brighter colors on the right hand side.  If this right half of this representation was rendered in the same resolution as the left half of the screen, would it still look better?  I think it would as it looks much brighter and colorful.  Is this because LG knows that just pushing larger pixels on their screens is not enough?  I think so.

What I think needs to happen is manufacturers need to find ways to increase the brightness, saturation and other factors that make a picture on your screen better, instead of trying to squeeze a 50 inch HD TV into you smartphone.  Focus on making them more efficient and improving battery technologies so we can all enjoy our smartphones for longer periods of time without having to worry if our batteries are going to last until we can get to charger or not.

As usual, these are just my thoughts and feelings and we’d love to hear your opinions in the comments below.


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About Simon Walker

I was an IT consultant for 20 years and ran my own web design and development company for an additional 3 years. I have been involved with technology from birth. OK, that maybe an exaggeration, but it sure is a long time. I'm also an avid Home Theater geek and self appointed installer for friends and relatives. My first serious modding of Smart-Phones started with my T-Mobile WING and now Android devices. I'm also a bit of a photographer, although Android has kind of taken over my life and photography has taken a back seat.