Triple-extra high definition: Android 4.3 supports 4K displays

July 26, 2013
Hidden in the bowels of Android 4.3 lies a new feature: support for 4K displays. Because why the heck not?


One of the technical concepts that almost every smartphone user knows is display resolution, and, in the case of savvier users, pixel density. The higher the resolution, the better the display, right?

Well, with modern Android devices reaching 1080p resolutions (full HD, 1920 x 1080 pixels), many argue that the race to cram as much pixels as possible on a smartphone display no longer provides enough benefits to justify the cost, GPU requirements, and power draw. In other words, Full HD is probably good enough already for a vast majority of users.

But a technology being “good enough” hasn’t ever stopped companies from trying to provide more. In case of display resolution, the next level is 4K, also known as UltraHD, which is a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels.

4K monitors and TVs are still a limited and expensive niche, but the folks creating Android have already baked support for 4K resolution in our favorite operating system.

As spotted by Android Police, Android 4.3 now contains a new DPI (dots per inch) category, called XXXHDPI, which will allow app developers to store assets and images destined for “Extra Extra Extra High Definition” displays, with pixel densities of up to 640 dpi.

Currently, this new density category should be useful for app developers making apps intended to run on 4K television sets. However, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Android smartphone and tablet manufacturers will try to equip their products with XXXHDPI displays in the future.

The current king of pixel density is the HTC One, with a 4.7-inch 468 ppi display, but in a year or two, we might be talking about 500-600 ppi displays. Would such high pixel densities provide an obvious benefit to the user? Probably not, but that’s another story.


  • MasterMuffin

    And what’s next, XXXXHDPI (Extra Extra Extra Extra)? We get it, it’s extra good, but seriously?? :D

    • Raaj

      I knew a person who had to wear for his size XXXX L clothes

      That wasn’t a pretty sight! Hopefully 4 X’s on a display paints a different picture! :-D

      • MasterMuffin



  • OMGgary

    4K sounds awesome, but probably not gonna be much use to me in practice, as I age and my eyesight worsens.
    When are we going to reach a point where somebody looks out a window at the real world outside and thinks; “that looks awfully pixelated compared to my {whatever the latest tech is} television.”

    • Trent Richards

      I believe in some cases we are already there.

    • joser116

      I wish they made something that augments our eyes’ resolution so we could appreciate something like that,

  • End in sight

    Yeah, who cares about this on a phone, but imaging 4K on a screen the size of your bedroom wall. Or how about three walls of your bedroom?

    Now we are talking real virtual reality…just as predicted in “Brave New World”. Yikes.

  • Jason Edokpa

    It’s called UHD.

  • Lisandro O Oocks

    Can we get some 4K android TV’s already!!

  • Ruz

    but would nt it be good to connect the same phone onto the TV and take benefit of it

  • Luka Mlinar

    As i understand it; at some point going over 400PPI the screen looses it’s sharpness. So what’s the use of this? There is so much they can do with LCD screens and yet we still keep cramming higher resolution in a small format.

  • royalcar

    640dpi so small – a 85 inch tv with 4K can reach 83.8 million pixels . I aspect the smartphone of a size of 5 inch such reach 130 million pixels per inch .

  • Nicabod

    I really wonder whether they were fully aware that “XXX” refers to hard-core porn.

    IIrc, the Linotronic typesetter for offset printing maxed out at 2560 dpi years ago.
    We’re comfortably beyond any jaggie problems, and (most likely) no need for grey-scale shading for antialiasing, either. However, resolutions such as 2560 dpi create really-sharp boundaries between text and background. Anything significantly less doesn’t look really good, afaik.

    Otoh, for images, it seems like a waste, until somebody makes a very high-quality thin Fresnel lens full-screen magnifier.

    I hope we haven’t forgotten the Nexus 10, which has a wondrous display (going by the numbers; I haven’t seen one yet).

    Fully expecting a “landfill-grade” tablet, I bought a C***g 732b for $88 some time back, but its display (iirc 160 dpi or so) was lovely.

  • Nicabod

    Follow-up: I just recalled that before affordable large CRTs became common, there were full-screen magnifier lenses for 10″ and 12″ TVs

  • Exam Bird

    you can buy Seiki 4k Tv $965 on amazon right now on amazon it looks great I have one Bring it Android!

  • rajaditya

    One day the scenario of mobile will be different. We will see the massive changes when LCD, LED and other display device will fed away. The new revolution will be virtual monitor device and lets see how the display will perform.