Dec 14 AT 12:29 PM Taylor Wimberly 71 Comments

Hands-on with the first Android device to feature Qualcomm’s Mirasol display

Mirasol display

Want another sneak peek of Qualcomm’s next-generation display technology that promises to extend battery life like never before? Nicole Scott of Netbooknews recently met up with Qualcomm’s Cheryl Goodman who gave her a tour of the Kyobo e-reader, the first Android device to feature a Mirasol display.

I’ve already covered the Kyobo e-reader and Mirasol display technology,┬áso I won’t dive into those again, but take a few minutes to watch the video below and then hit up the source link for the full report.

The current Mirasol displays can only do 40 frames per second (Kyobo is capped at 30 fps), but we expect future generations of the display tech to handle full HD video with higher frame count and better color reproduction. Expect to see Mirasol displays in more Android devices like tablets and smartphones in the second half of 2012.

Source: Netbooknews

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • jaxidian

    Am DEFINITELY interested in these displays! I LOVE the power savings we’ll be able to get with these things! Kudos to Qualcomm for enduring through the long development process to make these a reality!

    • r1ch

      Backlight easily accounts for 50-70% of my discharge cycle….I would gladly accept a phone that lasted 2-3 times longer if the trade-off was that the display wasn’t quite as vivid.

      Just think – feature-phone battery life with smartphone capability. Plus, it’s effectively an auto-brightness setting on it’s own – direct sunlight would be the brightest, darker room would be the dimmest. Exactly how it should be.

      Very promising – here’s hoping they keep developing it and improve colours/refresh rate a bit more.

      • EwanRGR

        I’m guessing you don’t have 4G on your device then? On my last couple of cellular devices the radios have been 50-70% of my discharge cycle, and my screen is usually more like 3rd or fourth in the list. I think this would be an additional help, but I’d like to see the same effort being put into low battery use cell radios as we’re seeing in screens.

        • Tarwinia

          Well, with the S4 Qualcomm processors the LTE modem is being integrated into the SoC;that, along with the shift for the modem to 28nm is supposedly going to improve LTE energy efficiency.

  • zyphbear

    This thing looks to be a great way to conserve battery life, but give a very nice readable layout for learning and books at home.

    Though some of the colors seem to be a little muted at times, not perfect, but it can serve the purpose very well.

    • Futureboy

      Someone should inform Nicole Scott of Netbooknews and Cheryl Goodman, Senior Marketing Director of Qualcomm, that one of the worst ways to show off a device display (let alone one with muted colors to begin with) is to shoot it in front of a brightly back-lit outside window.

      • desean

        Perhaps she wants to show how bright the screen can be without leaving an air-con room :)

    • stenzor

      I can’t wait until these displays have proper color reproduction and a higher frame rate.. if they really do use up less power, it will save a lot of battery life since the display is the biggest battery hog on devices… especially phones with larger screens

  • Aleksandar Simov

    Every new hardware product promises to extend battery life… I like that :)

  • dpleus

    Definitely looks like a step in the right direction, especially if it means no need for glossy displays. I want to see who the first major manufacturer is to put out a good tablet will be.

  • ramenchef

    These displays sound great for low end tablets and as an e-ink alternative. They definitely need to up the color reproduction accuracy if they want to see play in high end devices.

  • Deeds

    Anything that will extend battery is good for android

    • Homncruse

      “Anything that will extend battery is good for MOBILE TECHNOLOGY AS A WHOLE”


  • spintrex

    Aren’t the Mirasol displays supposed to reflect light so there is no need for adjustments in screen brightness?

    Product looks great but like mentioned in the article its currently at 40 fps… Can’t wait to see how it runs in the future

  • jamal

    Who doesn’t love longer battery life. I’m in!

  • Bryan Stoner

    I would definitely prefer this over an e-ink display!! That would be really cool if we can see some high profile companies like barnes and noble and amazon adopt this display for their future e-readers!

    • jefflarkin

      Me too. This seems like the perfect e-graphic-novel reading technology. The fact that it can potentially play movies too is a bonus.

  • Steve Heinrich

    That is pretty cool. I look forward to seeing how this will look on other devices, especially phones. I also want to see it in person. Anything that can prove to save battery life on an Android device will hopefully prove successful.

  • Shadowlore

    While the concept is awesome, the real life demos of these units have been received with rather luke-warm reviews.

    The biggest complaint has been that in removing much of the brightness capabilities, natively, they don’t always predict the amount of power needed properly. An example I remember reading up on was testing the device in a darker room with moving lights (think, nightclub). For a current gen device, you’d simply drive the brightness up and read your phone that way.. but with these ones, it’s not intelligent enough to predict the brightness you’ll need at all times.

  • Nick Gray

    This technology doesn’t require backlight, but I’d be interested in knowing if it can support backlight illumination. I use my phone in low light or completely dark environments all the time and don’t really want to strain my eyes.

    • aranea

      That’s exactly what I was wondering. For an ereader outside light maybe fine but for a phone you want an internal light source. How will this screen perform under these conditions and how it will effect battery life are important questions.

    • Tarwinia

      They have edge-lighting. Backlighting is technically impossible as it is a reflective display, not transparent, but they do have edge-lighting on the display for when in darker environments. I’ll guessing it has a negative impact obviously but who knows by how much?

  • Ilyse Rose

    That is really awesome and I look forward to hearing more about it in the future.

  • teecruz

    not really a big fan /:
    displays seem really dull.

    • Matthew Reynolds

      its not meant to replace our phone screens(at least not yet) its meant as a e-ink alternative for readers, so when compared to those. its a huge improvement

  • theJP

    So with a Mirasol display you can’t use it in the dark? Is that correct?

  • osc707

    i agree with teecruz. I wouldn’t mind this power saving on our phones, which are a little more vital, but for a reader, ehh.

  • Louis A

    Good start, but they got a way to go to make it better.

  • Lane Montgomery

    When this matures, it is going to make our current screens look like vacuum tube TVs.

  • inviolable

    Not that this isn’t a good thing, but why does it seem like new technology is always being implemented all AROUND the real issue, that being the battery itself. What is really stopping battery technology from progressing? Our phones have evolved beyond anything we could have imagined, with quad core processors being available soon, but batteries have remained largely unchanged over a long period of time.

    • Jimmy13

      There has been some recent research on the batteries that could really be nice when in place as seen here
      Anything they can change to make it better I am so down for.

    • Tatwinia

      As mentioned there is research being done but it’s anybody’s guess as to when it’ll be implemented. There’s also the safety factor. The more energy you pack into the same space the more your battery resembles a mini-bomb (think of all those incidents with faulty batteries).

  • virexed

    It’s like the gameboy color tablet.

  • thechad

    I’m so impatient i want stuff like this to be at the awesome level and in stores like right now. But is cool to see what is up and coming.

  • Thomas Biard

    I didn’t read everyone up above, but does it look like the contrast and saturation are turnerd way down on this thing? It looks like someone colored the screen with light strokes of a colored pencil rathere than vibrant “popping” colors.

    • Peter Dowling

      Thats because of the Mirasol display. Its not like a Super AMOLED screen, its just a color e-reader screen, which is why I won’t get it til the visual quality is at least close.

  • azswift

    These would be great for some of the lock-screen widgets, or photo displays on the lockscreen.

  • Chris Lewis

    this will be great for reading in direct sunlight!

  • vid500

    Great technology, can’t wait till the displays are as good as the ordenery. But for now amazing.

  • kzlife

    I hope companies like B&N or amazon will do an ebook with a screen like that! :)

    • eliander mendoza

      I hope so too!!!

  • Hall Lo

    Great product, but I dun like how the color on it looks washed out :(… But hey it has much longer battery life!

    • zerosix

      It’s a book, first of all.
      By the way, white looks quite white on the photo, can’t wait looking at this screen.

  • mjforte

    I look forward to a day when smartphone batteries can last for days with heavy use. Unfortunately, I don’t see this being anytime soon :(

  • Billy

    Looks interesting. I would like to see some improvements still but early technology often starts this way. A year or two longer and this could rock.

  • Peter Dowling

    While they save a lot of power, compared to a SAMLOD+ HD display I feel like at this point threes no choice. But once color quality and saturation get on similar levels, it definitively becomes worth it

  • Nathan D.

    I would love to see this display on a device, but first I want to look at it in person before making a decision on the display.

  • jimtravis

    Sounds promising. Can’t wait to see it to judge brightness, color saturation, and overall quality. Promises of much better battery life are certainly welcome.

  • W900w

    Fat fingers (literally) and slow touch response… By design?

  • Jorge Branco

    Whatever happened to the notion ink Adam? It’s LED/eink screen looked ridiculously impressive and then it just disappeared

  • honourbound68

    Omg we can actually have tabs and phones that will last for days?? What will I do with all my portable chargers?

    • Lewis McGeary

      Keep them for when you need to charge your electric car via micro USB.

  • humidity

    That screen looks pretty cool!

  • Jorge Eslava

    40 frames per second is not bad at all, I’m looking forward to looking at one in person.

  • la_resistance28

    I feel like we’ve been hearing about Mirasol for YEARS! But I’m still looking forward to this. Imagine a couple years from now when Mirasol screens combine with more advanced lithium ion batteries, we’ll have smartphone batteries that will hopefully last an entire week!

  • Tarwinia

    I personally would love this on a tablet with an S4 quad-core processor (let’s face it, both being Qualcomm products they’re less likely to be paired with an Exynos or an Omap). Preferably with a next gen chip to provide some improvements but I could settle for this gen as long as performance is polished (there’s some visual tearing at times). Video is normally between 24 to 30fps so 40 should be fine for video, even HD. Normally when we see 50 or 60fps video it’s interlaced so the effective end result is a max of 30. Games are the only thing where a higher fps would really matter but even so most graphic card reviews tend to consider 30fps to be the minimum for a game to be considered “payable” meaning the screen would be okay, though not great, for games.

    But I’d like to know why the slow response times. Is it the touch technology? Software/OS related? I hope the latter or if the prior that the touch technology is not built into the screen, allowing for the times to be easilyvfixed in future products.

    Also I’d like to see a video of the screen with direct sunlight shining on it. The videos I’ve seen so far have been in medium-lit environs or with a window behind the product. It’s supposed to look better the brighter the light being shone on it, so why not take pics/vids with truly direct sunlight to see just how bright and vivid the colors can get? Is it a habit carried over from when shooting kids of LCDs? Because I really am curious to see how good is this product’s current best.

    • superusermode

      The slow response might be a driver refinement issue, or it might just be an issue with the device itself, such as available RAM, low end CPU or frequency limited to conserve battery life. I’m not sure if labeling it as an e-reader was done to minimize expectations or because that was the initial intent the device was built from.

      As for seeing in direct sunlight, that would have been a great demonstration. Would the nature of the design make the amount of ambient lighting irrelevant since the more light the more light is reflected?

      • Tarwinia

        It would make it irrelevant for real life usage especially since more muted colors in lower light conditions is how things normally work in the “real” world (with the exception of photo-luminescence and anything neon).
        But for demonstration purposes it can make a huge difference. First of all there’s camera technology and its dynamic range. If they’re shooting in front of a window it’s going to make the screen and other areas darker and more muted so that the window doesn’t look like a sheet of white light (which is why HDR on cameras is so highly lauded). The second reason why it’s not irrelevant is the wow factor, people love amoled because of its overly saturated colors and extreme vividness despite that most reviewers agree that it’s not quite realistic. So even if in real-life usage the increase in brightness and vividness is not important due to the increased ambient light, for a demo it could be (if only to get a few less “it’s muted” comments.
        I’d love to see it in person as I think it’s the type of technology that can only be truly appreciated that way but living where I do… Well when a product with this tech that interests me comes out I’ll most likely have to import it and rely on the online community to give me a clear idea of what to expect.

  • kurtosterhage

    I remember being amazed the first time that I saw an e-ink screen, and it looks like Mirasol displays are on their way to being even more impressive. I’d love to have an 8-10″ device with a matte, color, power efficient display to read on.

  • zippyioa

    The new generations of screen are going to be critical for us to get more from our devices batteries. I an watching these developments with great interest :)

  • xfaith

    I like that they are looking into power savings, but I really dont want to loose functionality for a few more hours. E-Readers already last for a long time, and I dont think I would use a color ebook, I like the black and white.

    As for it being in a tablet, like others have stated right now the colors look muted, but it could be something that would help to save a bit of the battery on these devices once kinks are worked out. Anything that gives more options and moves us forward is always good.

  • smisa27

    This should be a really good upgrade to phones especially when they become more and more capable. Not only would it increase the battery life substantially, but it would also make it easier on the eyes and give it that Kindle appeal where you can read on it for hours without any eyestrain. I can’t wait until it becomes more and more mainstream.

  • sgumer

    the screen looks really vivid and amazing. i definitely would like to see this in person.

  • Oskar Wismierski

    MIght be a hit in the future when they get better fps.. for now ill stick with what I have..

  • Lee Swanson

    It has some great possibilities. A smart phone application of this technology would help with the daylight issues that many phones have.

  • Lee Swanson

    Anybody else notice that she seemed to have lots of problems with the touchscreen?

  • superusermode

    Is it me or does the color look washed and not very bright compared to current displays?

    • superusermode

      Nevermind, after watching the video again and paying attention to the way it works and the device being an e-reader vs tablet it makes more sense now.