Think Your Smartphone Resolution is Good? Think Again.

Have you ever watched Jennifer Aniston making a call on her mobile phone on the show, Friends?  It is the size of a breadbasket!  Clearly the mobile phone world has changed, but where do we go from here?  The ability to watch images as both pictures and video has changed the mobility landscape forever.  The most significant driver in smartphones and most important selling attribute is resolution.  The highest resolution of a mobile phone on the market today is around 440 pixels per inch (ppi).  The average is closer to 300 ppi. 

If you think resolution on your smartphone today is plenty good enough and couldn’t possibly go higher, think again. Consumers can expect resolution to improve and double in the next few years.  How is that possible you ask? Science provides part of the answer.

Maximum Resolution of the Eye

The maximum resolution of the human eye with 20/20 vision standing four inches away from a mobile phone is 876 ppi.  If you compare two smartphone displays with differing resolutions you may notice an improvement in the display resolution at up to 876 ppi, if ever so slightly.  But, science alone will only partially explain why we are in a resolution competition.  Marketing also has a role to play.  Let’s face it, our toys help define who we are and who doesn’t want the coolest, newest phone?  

I argue that the most important functionality of the phone is the display and the most important attribute of the display is resolution.  This attribute can help drive the market for cutting-edge smartphones to the magic number 876 ppi.  

The higher resolutions and faster refresh rates required on phones greater than 200 ppi also require more complex transistor structures and tighter tolerances for film uniformity and electrical performance.  As the transistors become smaller and the film property tolerances are more constrained, the potential for “killer particles” increases.  Display makers must therefore decrease the size and density of particles in the process specifications in order to maintain high manufacturing yields, reduce cost, and increase profitability.   

At Applied Materials, we enable higher resolution smartphones with precision materials engineering, providing equipment solutions for PECVD and PVD for mobile applications in both metal oxide and low-temperature polysilicon used in mobile display production.  

Applied Materials’ AKT display division will be exhibiting at FPD International at Pacifico Yokohama this month from October 23 – 25.  Visit us at booth 2112 for more information on our latest technologies for PECVD systems, array testers, sputtering systems for array, color filter and touch panel applications, the Applied SmartWeb roll-to-roll system for flexible electronics, and support programs.

And stay tuned for more news from the show.

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