Some display/panel types used in smartphones:

  • LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
  • IPS-LCD (In-Plane Switching Liquid Crystal Display)
  • OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)
  • AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

LCD, or Liquid Crystal Display, is perhaps the most common type of display on the market. While OLEDs screens dominate the flagship market (Apple even put one on the iPhone X), LCDs can be found on pretty much any mid-tier phone.

IPS, In-Place Switching displays are currently the best LCDs on the market. They feature consistent color and wide viewing angle, even in direct light, when compared to TFT displays. However, they are more expensive to produce, and as such, you’ll typically see them on Mid-level phones and above.

OLED, Organic Light-Emitting Diodes use a layer of carbon-based organic material set between an anode and a cathode (these are conducting sheets) set again between two layers of glass. Electricity runs into the two conducting sheets, lighting the carbon sheet and illuminating the display.

AMOLED, Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode is the current iteration of OLED technology most used in phones. The signature characteristic, perhaps, of this display is its ability to “turn off” pixels to display true Black. This means display modes like Moto’s Active Display and LG’s Always-On Display – in which most of the screen is off but notifications are displayed in white – literally turn off the display, and only turn on the pixels needed to display those notifications. This allows us to save power while also allowing information at-a-glance.

Super AMOLED displays are proprietary Samsung technology. The Korean company licenses it to other OEMs for use on their smartphones in addition to its own phones. This AMOLED display improves on the capacitive touchscreen technology mentioned above. Super AMOLED screens build the touch-sensitive sensors onto the display itself rather than a separate layer, as in Capacitive screens. As such, it’s the thinnest display on the market – and coveted in a market where thinness is a commodity.