Feb 12 AT 5:01 PM Dustin Earley 23 Comments

Would a Galaxy S5 with a QHD display really be overkill?

display-color-eyes Image via: newlow with Creative Commons

Rumor has it that the next iteration in Samsung’s Galaxy S line of phones will come with a QHD display. Commonly referred to as “1440p,” QHD is Quad HD, or a resolution of 2560×1440. At around 5 inches, a display with a QHD resolution comes out to a pixel density of 587PPI. Considering our current ~450PPI displays look fantastic as it is, it certainly sounds like overkill. But there is an argument to be made for such a high-density display.

Joshua Ho from Anandtech published an article last weekend going over the math and science behind screen resolutions, pixel density and the human eye. This has been covered in detail before, but with rumors of Samsung using a QHD display on the Galaxy S5 swirling, it seems pertinent to revisit the subject.

I highly recommend you read the entire article found at the source link below, but the gist of it is that to get the full story on indistinguishable pixels, we need to look at display resolution and how far away from your eye a display is held, measured in pixels per degree (PPD). By doing the math, Ho found that technically anything under 600PPI is not overkill. There are cases in which pixelation would be detectable at even the current 450PPI available on most high-end smartphones today. That means that Samsung’s ridiculous-sounding 2560×1440 display may not be so ridiculous after all.

Case closed, right? Not even close. That’s really only half the story. Yes, the human eye may theoretically be able to tell the difference between a 450 and 600PPI display being held 12 inches from your face, but is the incredibly minute difference worth it? Utilizing all those pixels means using more processor and battery power. The popular opinion is that the best smartphones have the best balance. Personally, I’d rather have a phone with a 1080p display that lasts a full day and a half on one charge, is impressively fast and has a small footprint over a bigger, slower phone with a QHD display that struggles to make it through a single day.

To answer the question of whether or not a Galaxy S5 with a QHD display would be overkill, we’ll have to see just what Samsung can do with the S5. If it is slower, bigger and has poor battery life, I think everyone will agree that it is overkill. If the S5 manages to boast the same numbers in performance and size as the S4, people will be torn. I might think, just how much better could everything else have been is Samsung had gone with a lower resolution? You might think, who cares? It’s plenty fast and has the best display on the planet. If Samsung is able to up the display resolution and improve on everything else the S5 has to offer, well, I don’t think there will be much to complain about. Mathematically, a 600PPI display isn’t necessarily overkill, but we’ll have to see what Samsung can really do with all those pixels for it to really matter.

Source: Anandtech

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • redraider133

    More than just the added pixels it could make the screen look better so no I Dont think it’s over kill. The screens get better along with the resolution increase, so maybe I can’t see the pixels from 1080p to QHD, but the increase in other areas is much welcomed.

  • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

    As long as it doesn’t drain your battery too bad, I say why not? But it’s not a “must have” feature for me right now, even if the battery holds up well with a QHD screen.

  • BlazeHN

    It IS overkill, dont only think about the screen itself but the content you will see on it, most of it still being 720p or 1080p (or even less), you wont get any movies or games to be seen on that native resolution but upconverted and stuff (even more processing needed to that), you will only watch the UI and such stuff on native resolution wich is not worth.

    Nop, its not worth the added battery consumption and processing needed, not worth the more likely to get laggy UI since its showing a way unnecesary higher resolution, just not.

    • BlazeHN

      Well, not “overkill” but very unnecesary and even kinda negative thing to do…

  • lakerkev

    The overkill argument is the same one people threw out when things were shifting to 1080p. Some people are happy w/720p. Most would not say that 1080 is overkill now. All the same arguments were made then about 720 v. 1080, it will kill the battery ect… look at the battery life on a g2 to see how far things have come.

    • BlazeHN

      Yes and battery life still being regular/bad, it would be an actual “upgrade” to have for example a S4 with 2600 mAh battery and 720p screen resolution, instead they just upgraded both battery and screen resolution and we still get not “good” battery life.

      Only because something is doing “ok” doesnt means it cant do “better”.

      • redraider133

        No it wouldn’t be an “upgrade” going back to 720p. Battery life is leaps and bounds better than it was even 2 years ago. An upgrade would be samsung refining touchwiz so that it doesn’t eat away at resources and use so much battery.

        • Ben

          Competition is a wonderful thing. But I think in this case we’re seeing too much one-upping. I think your average user benefited a lot when phones went to 720p screens from 540 screens. The jump from 720p to 1080p was not a noticeable improvement to me, so for me I’d rather see phones that run 720p and get better battery life and overall performance.

  • kurkosdr

    Just a reminder: If the S5 uses a pen-tile arrangement, aka uses pixels that don’t have 3 subpixels and hence aren’t really independent from the nearby pixels, you are not really getting 1440p resolution. The 720p display of my S3 is not as clear as a 960 x 540 LCD screen, especially when it comes to text. So, the “overkill” may be needed to be really as crisp as an LCD 1080p display.

    • Dean Caldwell

      It’s not needed at all! Kook at the HTC One screen. It’s is super crisp amd bright. No over saturated as The Galaxy series.

      Over all, the clarity if the One is 2nd to None!

      This is also true for Sony. Their displays awesome!

      • kurkosdr

        “It’s not needed at all! Kook at the HTC One screen. It’s is super crisp amd bright. ”

        This is what I said. The HTC One is super crisp because it has an LCD screen.

        What I meant in my original post is that, if a phone has an AMOLED “pen-tile” display (Galaxy S4) and it claims 1080p resolution, it’s NOT as good as a phone with an LCD display with 1080p resolution (HTC One), because the pixels of the S4 are not really independent, and it shows when you display text. So, Samsung neds to bump up the resolution to something like 1440p in order for their “pentile” displays to look as good as a 1080p LCD.

        Jeez, what’s wrong with the internets? Does every post with more than 10 words in it, or a post not written in kindergarten English get immediately downvoted?

      • kurkosdr

        To give the lowdown about this “pentile” thing to all the geniuses who downvoted: A screen with a pentile arrangement has pixels that consist of two sub-pixels: One green sub-pixel and either a red sub-pixel or a blue one.

        So, if a pen-tile display needs to display white (you need both red, green and blue to display white), a pixel has to “borrow” a red or blue sub-pixel from a nearby pixel. Bang! Resolution reduced when you display black letters on white backround.

        This is why a pen-tile 1080p displays are not as crisp as 1080p displays with full sub-pixels (AMOLED or LCD, and no, not all AMOLEDs are pen-tile). And why the ppi counts of pen-tile displays are misleading.

        Do we all understand this, or I need to bring out the crayon pencils?

        PS: This is not a rant about pen-tile, it’s a rant about the misleading ppi counts Samsung reports for their pen-tile screens.

      • redraider133

        That is because of LCD vs AMOLED. It has always been the case. Samsung has gotten so many hooked because of the super over saturated colors. Same reason they get away with using Pentile whereas you do not have that with LCD screens.

    • tetracycloide

      Not sure what’s with the down votes, the linked article makes much the same point.

  • renyo

    Thing is, we need the general quality of apps and media to catch up with these quality displays… Looking at a 1080p video on Youtube on a QHD display does not make a difference… Also every time I look at the Whatsapp icon, I cringe (looks blurred)… Call me an OCD freak but having a great display is just half the story… I don’t wanna have a phone with a great display but not have great content for that display till its end of life…

  • Kevin Vesga

    Overkill or not; I would prefer is smartphone manufacturers focused more on battery life.

    • BlazeHN


    • tetracycloide

      It’s not really as simple as that. Screens are getting better PPI because if improvements in the manufacturing process. Batteries are limited by the underlying chemistry.

  • Dean Caldwell

    Yeah it really is an overkill for a phone. We have large screen tv’s that are mostly all 1080p and look stunning. Sure 2k and 4k look great but that’s a huge screen and you sit 2 meters or more away.

    For a QHD that’s 5 to 6 inches in size and viewed 15 to 20cm away, it is certainly not needed.

  • donger


  • Dey

    Lol… When S3 arrived with it’s cr*ppy pentile matrix, Samsung users were claiming that it is impossible to notice pixels from the normal distence. Now for those – same users – even 460ppi is not enough:)

  • Davidjan

    Cool! Want to get them. S5 must support OTG to expand storage with Meenova MicroSD reader: http://goo.gl/2iJ6gf

  • rashad360

    QHD seems like progress for the sake of progress. Instead of building a phone around bigger and “better” specs, I would like to see them step back and take a holistic approach.