Always-on displays are set to become the next big thing, with the LG G5 set to launch with one this weekend. But what is an always-on display and why would you want one?
What is an always-on display?
An always-on display is exactly what it sounds like, a screen that’s always showing information. In your smartphone, that means the screen would always be showing you notification symbols so you don’t miss anything.
How does an always-on display work?
The biggest challenge with always-on displays is how to keep them on without using too much battery power. At the moment, there are three ways to do this:
1. Use an e-ink screen
Way back in 2012, Russian phone maker Yotaphone came up with an ingenious battery-saving idea for smartphones – put a secondary e-ink screen on the back for emergencies.
E-ink screens, like the ones found on Kindle eReaders, use no power at all to show a still image. That means they can show your latest notifications and only use power to update the image when new ones come through.
2. Use a tiny second screen
Last year, LG launched the LG V10 smartphone in certain parts of the world. This high-end handset had an extra strip of screen next to the front-facing camera – a tiny always-on display.
Because it was so small, it could keep you updated with notifications, news and more with hardly any battery drain.
3. Use OLED or AMOLED screens
OLED and AMOLED screens feel like the perfect solution to always-on displays’ power problems. They work in a unique way that means you wouldn’t need a second screen.
With both of these screens, each pixel lights up individually (regular screens are either completely lit or completely off). That means a small part of the screen could be left on to show notifications without using much battery.
Why would I want an always-on display?
With an always-on display, checking notifications would become a simple case of glancing at your phone’s screen. The average adult unlocks their phone 110 times a day, so checking notifications with a glance would save a lot of battery and time.