From LCD and AMOLED to Gorilla Glass and ShatterShield, there’s loads of jargon surrounding our phone screens. If you’ve been puzzled by what it all means, read on as we take you through the high-tech world of mobile displays.
On top of every smartphone screen is a layer designed to protect the really important parts of the display – the touch-sensitive components and the bit that actually shows the image. Here’s what you need to know about these screen protectors.
Gorilla Glass is a brand of toughened glass that’s designed to be thin, light and impact-resistant. It’s the most common screen protection, with its latest iteration, Gorilla Glass 4, being found on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6s. While Gorilla Glass is hard to crack, it does scratch more easily than the sapphire glass below.
Sapphire glass is pretty rare on smartphones. Despite extensive rumours that Apple would start using it, the only place you’ll find a sapphire screen is on ultra-premium phones, like the £13,700 Vertu Signature Touch.
Of course, sapphire screens aren’t made from the natural gemstones you find on expensive jewellery. Instead huge blocks of sapphire crystals are grown in labs and then sliced and polished to create the screens. The only thing harder than these crystals is diamond, so they’re pretty difficult to break.
ShatterShield is the name Motorola has given to the new screen on the Moto X Force. Every part of the display is plastic-based, making it super-tough - there’s a reason we give kids plastic plates, not the fine china. As it’s plastic, ShatterShield won’t shatter (who’d have guessed?) and it’ll take a lot to crack it.
You can read up on ShatterShield in more detail over at our in-depth article.
Ion-strengthened glass is a chemically hardened glass. The only major phone maker to use it was Apple until the company switched to Gorilla Glass this year. The problem with ion-strengthened glass is that it shatters more easily than Gorilla Glass, although it’s almost impossible to scratch.
Under the protective layer of your phone’s screen is the actual display, the bit that generates an image. There’s plenty of screen tech for phone makers to choose from, so let’s take a look at them all.
AMOLED stands for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. What that confusing name means is each pixel in the screen lights up independently (in contrast to LCD below), which gives brighter colours and darker blacks for a better picture. And because black is shown by turning off pixels, AMOLED screens use less power.
The other great thing about AMOLED is that it can be made flexible, which is why Samsung can create the curved screen on the Galaxy S6 edge.
LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. Unlike AMOLED screens, LCDs have one big backlight that shines a white light through a liquid crystal panel. By passing electricity through the liquid crystal it can filter out some of the light to create different colours, creating an image.
The big advantage of LCDs is that they can be very bright, which is good when you’re using your phone outside in bright light.
You can see how LCD and AMOLED screens compare here.
IPS Quantum Display
IPS Quantum Display is exclusively found on the LG G4. It’s a unique type of LCD screen that has more control over its liquid crystal layer. This extra control means the layer blocks less light, making the screen brighter. LG also tuned the screen to Hollywood’s colour standards and found a way to improve contrast. So it’s an LCD with the colour and contrast of an AMOLED screen.
Take a closer look at the LG G4’s IPS Quantum Display.
TRILUMINOS is Sony’s own technology that helps its LCDs show a wider range of colours. In particular, a TRILUMINOS screen can show greener greens and redder reds than a standard LCD, which create more realistic landscapes.
X-Reality is another Sony screen technology that occasionally makes an appearance on phones. It analyses everything you view on the screen and optimises it for perfect quality. It perfects texture, outline, contrast and colour to make things look like they’re in a higher resolution than they actually are.