Nov 18 AT 12:51 PM Nick Gray 22 Comments

Building the perfect Nexus: display

Mirasol displays

When building the perfect Nexus phone, the display is certainly one of the most important factors that will determine the success of the handset. Over the years we have seen displays grow in size while pixel density has skyrocketed. The evolution of the screen can easily be traced just by looking at the various screens used on Nexus phones over the years.

  • Nexus One: 3-7-inch 480 x 800 (252ppi) AMOLED
  • Nexus S: 4.0-inch 480 x 800 pixels (233ppi) Super AMOLED
  • Galaxy Nexus: 4.67-inch 720 x 1280 pixels (316ppi) Super AMOLED
  • Nexus 4: 4.7-inch 768 x 1280 pixels (318ppi) True HD IPS+
  • Nexus 5: 4.95-inch 1080 x 1920 pixels (445ppi)  True HD IPS+

Having a larger display on a phone make consuming media a lot more enjoyable, but larger screens are the main culprit for increased handset size. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra and HTC One max are definitely too large for wide consumer appeal, but that has not stopped manufacturers from bumping the standard screen size for flagship phones by roughly a quarter inch each year. I’m sure we’ve all forgotten how big the HTC EVO 4G felt with its 4.3-inch display when it came to market in 2010.

But screen size is only part of the equation. The other factor to consider is the technology used in the display. There are dozens of display technologies on the market, but the ones used most frequently in today’s flagship Android phones are IPS LCD, Super LCD and Super AMOLED. Because there’s little difference between IPS LCD and Super LCD displays, we’re simply going to point out some of the obvious factors that set LCD technologies apart. The main advantage offered by AMOLED technologies is the ability to illuminate pixels individually, allowing manufacturers to develop unique use cases (Moto X’s active notifications and Samsung’s S-View) that don’t consume an exorbitant amount of power. Unfortunately, AMOLED displays come with a PenTile RGBG subpixel matrix layout, which is inferior to the traditional RGB layout used by LCD displays. While the underlying LCD technology may be a lot older than AMOLED, its maturity allows for more accurate color reproduction and better visibility in direct sunlight.

It’s impossible to know what the perfect screen size is, and we know that we will never be able to agree on which display technology is better. That said, we still want to know what you’d pick if you were piecing together the perfect Nexus phone.

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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