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What’s a ‘3K’ screen and does the LG G4, or any phone, need one?

With rumours of LG’s latest flagship mobile phone rocking an insanely sharp ‘3K’ display, we ask: what the hell does ‘3K’ mean and what is the benefit compared with Full HD or 2K?

A document recently leaked to a popular LG blog by a “trustworthy tipster” appears to show an upcoming smartphone with a monster ‘3K’ display, and it’s looking like that device could well be the Korean company’s next flagship, the LG G4.

What is a ‘3K’ display?

Like previous buzz-terms such as ‘Full HD’ and ‘QHD’, ‘3K’ refers to a specific screen resolution. To be specific, a 3K display packs a 1620 x 2880 resolution. The reason screens with this resolution have been dubbed 3K is because of the horizontal pixel count, which is just a shade under three thousand. Clever eh!

3K displays already exist on larger devices such as laptops, but we’ve never seen a screen that sharp on a tiny device like a smartphone. Naturally, a miniature device with such a high resolution would be an interesting thing to behold, but the big question is, do we really need it?

Why would I want a ‘3K’ screen on my phone?

Having a 3K screen on a mobile device means users will be able to enjoy some seriously high resolution visuals, topping even the mighty LG G3, which was the first phone to boast a mega-crisp QHD (2560 x 1440) resolution.

The debate surrounding 4K smartphones has already been raging for a while and it’s pertinent here, too. The general consensus is that 4K’s great and all but completely superfluous on such a small panel, as our eyes will be pretty much unable to tell the difference between 4K or 2K. After all, the G3’s QHD screen was already insanely sharp, with no visible pixels in sight.

And then there’s the question of the unwanted side-effect: A 3K screen is going to absolutely hammer the phone’s battery, which will likely struggle to keep up with such serious visual demands. And as we all know, big-screened smartphones aren’t known for their world-beating battery life as it is.

So why should users get excited about the halfway-house 3K phone panel, when the only observable effect will be a device suffering from even worse battery performance? Wouldn’t we be better off with longer-lasting phones than ones where you need a microscope to make out individual pixels?

So, is the LG G4 going to be the first ‘3K’ mobile?

Bearing the rather sexy model number LG-VS999, the specs of this mystery leaked phone definitely suggest that this will be the LG G4.

The Verizon version of the LG G3 – the company’s current top-tier smartphone – has the model number LG-VS985, which has led folk to believe that this mystery device could be the US carrier’s version of the upcoming LG G4.

There have been plenty of other rumours regarding the LG G4 and the one which springs immediately to mind is that it may sport a smaller screen than the G3. A 5.3-inch panel has been tipped which, if this current rumour turns out to be true, would give us a smartphone with an eyeball-searing 600PPI screen. That’s almost twice as sharp as the iPhone 6.

There will, of course, be more to the LG G4 than just its screen.

The device is expected to launch with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 SoC on-board, though rumours of LG’s own Nuclun chip have been rife too. Either way, expect it to feature a top-end, octa-core chip, 3GB RAM and a seriously beefed-up 16-megapixel camera. Knowing LG, there will probably be plenty of awesome new features thrown in too.

Of course, this is all naked speculation at this early stage. We’ll know more in April or May, when LG is expected to unveil the device officially. Check out our ‘LG G4 in a nutshell’ preview for more info.


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