Would a 1080p phone screen really matter that much?

October 20, 2012
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With large phones (or “phablets”) gaining popularity, we’re starting to see phones like the HTC J Butterfly popping up with 1080p displays. Now that we have the ability to create phones with 1080p displays, the question is: do we even need them?

Of course manufacturers are going to push the improved resolution, claiming it makes photos and videos clearer and more eye-pleasing. While the increased resolution certainly isn’t going to hurt image quality, it may not be as┬ánecessary as we might think. In an interview with Ars Technica, CEO of DisplayMate┬áDr. Raymond Soneira said “Even the tiniest image detail in a photograph is always spread over more than one pixel.” He added that “The image detail is never perfectly aligned with the pixel structure of the display.

Regarding video, Soneira said “For ordinary viewing of videos, 1920├Ś1080 is really not going to make a visual difference.” You can already see this for yourself in a lot of situations, like televisions, for example. Unless you’re sitting relatively close, the difference between 720p and 1080p is┬ánegligible. That’s on a 40-inch television screen. Even with a 5-inch display on a phone, the difference will be hard to make out.

That isn’t to say that 1080p makes no difference whatsoever. With anything computer generated like fonts and icons, the increased resolution can make use of the extra pixels to improve the sharpness of the display. Still, according to Soneira, many people can’t make out differences in sharpness over 229 pixels per inch. Basically, unless you’ve got great vision, the improved sharpness still may not matter.

How much would a 1080p phone screen matter to you? Do you think we’re beginning to reach a point where the resolution of a phone’s display doesn’t matter as much as it used to?

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