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The PenTile RG-BW LCD display on the new Note 10.1 consumes 30% less power

By using clear subpixels, Samsung managed to make the display of the new Note 10.1 more power efficient without sacrificing brightness.
September 12, 2013
Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)

The new Note 10.1 2014 Edition is a sleek piece of gear. We saw it at IFA last week and we loved its super crisp display and thin profile, and then there’s the S Pen and all the creative things that you can do with it.

With its faux leather finish, the new Note 10.1 looks pretty smart on the outside, but its innards are just as intelligent. Among them is the 10.1-inch LCD display, which according to industry sources cited by the Korean news portal DDaily, uses 30 percent less power than regular LCD screens of the same size, thanks to its RG-BW subpixel arrangement.

Quick explanation: unlike AMOLED screens, which are self-illuminating, LCD displays have a backlight, which is a usually a white LED. To show all the pretty colors our eyes can discern, the light goes through an array of pixels, each of them made up of several subpixels. Generally, LCD panels have three kinds of subpixels for the three basic colors – red, green, and blue. Simply put, each kind of subpixel absorbs two of the colors (actually light of different wavelengths) and lets the third one go through. This is how colors are formed.

The problem is a lot of the backlight is absorbed and turned to heat, and thus wasted.

To allow more light through, Samsung added a “white” subpixel to the arrangement, though a better term would be “clear”. This subpixel doesn’t absorb light like the other three types and serves to increase brightness, especially when it comes to displaying the white backgrounds that are prevalent on the Web.

RG-bw lcd pentile

Typically, each pixel on an RGB LCD display is made of three stripes of equal size of the three colored subpixels. In the Note 10.1 2014, the setup is a little different: each pixel is made of just two subpixels: either a red and a green one, or a blue and a white one. This accommodates the fourth clear subpixel, but it also increases the size of the subpixels allowing more light through. This is a subpixel arrangement called PenTile, and is typically used by Samsung on AMOLED panels. An earlier device that came with a PenTile RG-BW LCD display was the 2011 Motorola Atrix.

30% less power, 1.5X brightness

Thanks to the white subpixel and the PenTile arrangement, the Note 10.1 2014 Edition’s display can output 1.5 times more brightness than a typical RGB display. In fact, according to DDaily’s report, the technology allows for a 30 percent decrease in power consumption, which is very substantial, especially for a 10-inch device. That gives us hope for some extra long battery life in the new Note 10.1, which we’ll definitely test when we get for review.

Another interesting tidbit that we’ve learned from the report is that Samsung will use the same PenTile RG-BW LCD technology in a 13.3-inch device coming sometime next year. The Ativ Q matches the description, though gossip has it that Samsung delayed or cancelled the project due to patent issues.