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AMOLED Explained video

UPDATED with video: The Samsung Galaxy S3 has an impressive HD Super AMOLED screen. Measuring 4.8-inches, the type of screen Samsung decided to go for has been a point of contention amongst some techies out there of late. That said, what’s the difference between an AMOLED and a Super AMOLED? What on earth does the Plus denote at the end of the Samsung Galaxy S2’s screen and why oh why aren’t we seeing a plus on our HD Super AMOLEDS? Here’s our quick explanation with a video at the bottom of the page.


It all started with the AMOLED or active-matrix light-emitting diode. First landing in our paws mainstream style with handsets like the Samsung Omnia HD (i8910) and the Omnia 2 (i8000), AMOLEDs delivered non-light emitting blacks when LCDs were radiating shades of grey, also sporting colours more vibrant and saturated than any seen before on a mobile device.

When looking at the formation of sub-pixels (the little dots of colour within pixels), while a standard LCD pixel contains a red (non-pentile), green and blue sub-pixel, an AMOLED display makes a habit of sharing its green sub-pixels (pentile). This all in all compromises on sharpness in favour of what can only be described as the saturated colourful light fantastic mobile display.


After being propelled to fame, AMOLEDs started receiving a smidgen of stick for their outdoor viewability. Bright sunlight and touch screens never did like each other very much but with LCD panels being churned out brighter and bolder than ever before Samsung had to up their AMOLED game. In turn, with the Samsung Galaxy S came their Super AMOLED display.

According to Samsung their super AMOLED panels perform 20% better outdoors than any of the AMOLEDS of old, live longer and offer better touch responsiveness. Super AMOLED is the standard we’ve seen thus far ranging from the Samsung Galaxy S right through to the Samsung Galaxy Note. But wait? Isn’t the Samsung Galaxy Note screen an…


Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Note and Samsung Galaxy Nexus both have HD Super AMOLED displays. Why HD? Simple, the resolution is 720p high definition or above. There’s not much more science to it beyond that, which brings us to our final type of AMOLED, Super AMOLED Plus.

Super AMOLED Plus

Back to the subject of pentile displays: Super AMOLED screens for all their ‘shiny shiny’ don’t quite pack the ‘so sharp it cuts’ crispness that equivalent resolution LCDs do. You want to know what kind of AMOLED does?

The Super AMOLED Plus. With no sharing of any sub-pixels, Super AMOLED Plus has overcome one more point of contention LCD fans might have with AMOLED screen tech. Available on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the Samsung Galaxy S2, it looks incredible, so if you haven’t scoped it out, do, now, go.

AMOLED shortcomings

AMOLEDs have been criticised in the past for delivering what some consider to be misleading resolution thanks to the Pentile-ness of their pixels. With Super AMOLED Plus remedying this however, there are a few bones LCD fans still pick with the deep-black tech. One of these is off whites. AMOLED screens don’t deliver as accurate whites as quality LCDs such as that found in the HTC One X or iPhone 4S. Their colour accuracy is also compromised with viewing angle changes, so while detail holds up, whites tend to go blue when you tilt. Finally, cameras on phones are always optimised for the screens they’re mounted behind. Processing of photos for AMOLED screened devices tweaks values differently so images don’t export with the same integrity as a quality LCD screened camera-phone.

What do we think? We love AMOLEDs for UIs and they make movies and pictures pop. LCD2 is hotting up though, so we’re hopeful that the Galaxy S3 screen packs enough zing to wow us in terms of both brightness and sharpness.

Hopefully you enjoyed our translation of Samsung’s Supers, HDs and Pluses. If you have any questions on the subject, just fire us a comment below, Tweet or Facebook and stay tuned tomorrow at 6PM GMT where we’ll be covering the Samsung Unpacked and the screen-tech behind the next Galaxy. 



Pentile / Non Pentile Image: Stuff-works


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