Mobile displays have advanced faster than I think any of us imagined possible. Just three years ago, it wasn't uncommon for devices to come fitted with displays smaller than 3.5-inches. Now it's uncommon for a phone to have a display much smaller than 4-inches.

But size isn't the only improvement that's been made. Mobile displays have improved in color gamut, contrast, brightness, power efficiency, viewing angles, resolution and, respectively, pixel density. All of these factors (and more, like reflectiveness) come together to make the displays fitted in your mobile devices some of the most impressive technology money can buy.

Despite approaching what many thought might be a wall, advancement in this space shows no signs of slowing down. Only one year ago, many were skeptical that we were so quickly approaching 720p displays. Using Sharp's 3.5-inch 960 by 640 pixel display, Apple coined the term Retina Display and stunned the world in 2010. But it was hard for me to wrap my head around a pocket-sized phone having a 720p display.

Now we're on the brink of devices with 5-inch 1080p displays, which begs the question: how much does display quality matter to you?

For some, the display is the top priority. After all, it's what users spend all their time looking at when using their devices. A bright, crystal clear and vibrant display with perfect contrast is crucial for watching tons of movies on the go. Or maybe you take a lot of pictures and want an accurate representation of what the end product will look like before switching to your computer.

Others might not care about display so much as the processor, camera, build quality, design or storage space. What good is a beautiful display if the phone lags every two seconds? Or how pointless is it to have gorgeous display in your pocket if you don't have enough storage space to keep a few movies and pictures (because we know streaming everything doesn't work well with tiered data)?

For me, I would have to say display comes in a solid second in things I look for in a phone. I can get over poor design or a tiny bit of lag. I can work around storage space woes, tiered data or even slow data speeds. I can even deal with the size of a phone being too small to an extent. But there are two things I cannot tolerate when it comes to phones. First, a poor camera. Unfortunately, the vast majority of smartphones have abhorrently awful image sensors and optics. Second, I can't get over an awful, grainy display.

This is why I've been fairly satisfied with the HTC One X. It easily has one of the best mobile displays to date in many respects. Namely, color reproduction is fantastic and contrast is relatively high. Blacks are fairly inky and at 312 pixels per inch, it is crystal clear, too. I'm also satisfied with the iPhone 5 display, despite it's size. You couldn't ask for a better display in its class.

Earlier this week, however, I popped my SIM in a DROID RAZR M and I immediately recalled why I wrote off Super AMOLED displays and PenTile subpixel formations. I instantly remembered why I quit using the Galaxy Nexus. At just 4.3-inches diagonally with qHD resolution (960 by 540 pixels), you would imagine the display would be relatively clear. But that is not the case. From about a foot from my face, I can clearly see pixelation in icons and other interface elements on the DROID RAZR M display. In the image you see above (click for full-size), all saturated elements of the display appear jagged and show some checker-boarding.

Depending on the device, however, I'm willing to sacrifice some quality or clarity for more real estate. The Galaxy Note II features a 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED display with 720p resolution. However, it utilizes a custom subpixel layout, different from the typical PenTile Matrix layout. The original model – which featured a smaller, 5.3-inch display with a higher resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels – is the one that drove me to hate PenTile and HD Super AMOLED so much. At only 267ppi, I don't expect the Note II display to be crystal clear. But the additional space should more than make up for slight pixelation.

What about you, ladies and gentlemen? How much does display quality matter to you? What about the display is most important? Density? Size? Color reproduction? Contrast? Or is the display the least of your worries when it comes to a new phone?

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73 Reactions to this post

"Are HD displays important to you?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
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Arvind Katiyar Yes if you are a movie or video freak it matters the other day I was watching a AC/DC concert on a Sony LCD The same concert looks better on a S3 on YouTube brighter colours more lively.
Vishal Nandre ITS LIKE how much u r computer monitor matters to u....... That much... My fav SUPER LCD 2 IPS with one x
Ursuline Thomas I have seen the screen on this phone and it is amazing I have the original Droid razor and love it. Would love
Harini Priya http://welmax.blogspot.com/ containing unlimited MOBILE and PC downloads. visit the website and like this page for getting updates of all downloads...its amazing friends... http://facebook.com/TheWelmax
Lawrence Lepes Definitely! I would rather have an HD resolution than the Retina display. The pixel density isn't all that important.
Arxi Kay Reminds me if the bit wars..
Norharishan Nordin the most important is it must be an apple brand
Kim E. Salinas very much matter.
Eugene Yap edge to edge
Eugene Yap anti reflect
Eugene Yap 500 ppi
Eugene Yap 1080p, highest duarable and big
Mauka Side Need 1080p
Marti Ruiz superamoled no pentile on note 2 is coming
Josh Avondoglio I'm so disinterested that I don't even know if my GSIII has a HD display!
Zamir Yusof It doesn't matter much for me unless it can stand at least two days on single charge and have 1 day screen time.
Yasir Sohail To me yes, 8 spent alot of time on my phone.
Tyler Vieira "Um it doesn't matter about 720p it's all about pixel density and the iPhone does indeed still have a very sharp display" Of course it matters. not to mention the iPhone is practically 720p anyways, so that is moot. if you believe that, get a 1 inch high pixel density screen.
Vicente Reyes As long as its 300+ then its good. I'd like to get one of the new razr HD devices ;-)
Naj Khan it definitelly matters a lot lo lot that is why i bought the ipad 3
Aaron Dean I would rather have good battery life. If I choose to watch a movie it would be on my 3d TV and if I want to play a game it will be on my pc
Anonymous Really excited to see the Nokia Lumia 920. I waited for it over the 900.
Adrian Anguiano Um it doesn't matter about 720p it's all about pixel density and the iPhone does indeed still have a very sharp display
Ric Rush I can still see pixels on my Galaxy S III but I still love it. When the HTC Butterfly and other 1080p display phones arrive they will be amazing.
Ryan McNeil Resolution does not matter as much as Clarity and color quality does. Point and click Galaxy Nexus/AMOLED to iPhone/LCD. Sure, 720p was incredible but not at the expense of the loss of proper quality in low backlight.
Angel Hernandez The one x's display is better them the galaxy s3 but both are hd and i really like them. So yes,glad i have them. They beat my old evo 3d in quality by miles lol
Huey Liggins Galaxy note has the biggest screen on a phone and its gorgeous. Watched dark Knight on it. Almost felt like blue ray quality. Seriously. But it has one major flaw. The black or darker colors on the screen shows awkwardly. It ruins the entire picture sometimes. So yes hd is very important since I love watching movies or tv shows on my note
Arby Hashani its one of the most important specs, I have the one s and the screen is horrible, it drives me insane
Aaron Lane Love my screen on my OneX.
Luis Robles Figueroa Yeah... they are important.
Nirav Insomniac Cant tolerate pixels!My Xperia S and Rezound currently tops Ppi list.Gsmarena may say that human eye cannot see pixel differentiation above 300 ppi,But believe me...if u carefully look at the edges of icons than its visible even at 342!
Jeremy Carter Galaxy s3 and HTC one x are the best and yes. Screen and picture quality is a must
Brian Edson I can't enjoy a new device if the display isn't what I expect it to be. I had a palm pixi as my first smartphone ever and the display was beautiful. Then I had a Droid incredible, and that display was crisp but not as bright as I would prefer. Then I had a Droid bionic. The pentile display drove me nuts. Now I have a galaxy S III and I love it. The display is gorgeous and it has the specs and performance to match.
Darren Polak People who say 'retina display' have obviously been sucked in... It's a made up phrase by apple to make you think you are getting better when they are behind the rest of the market
Vladimir Conrado I have a galaxy s3 if that tells you anything
Brandon Johnson Really it doesn't matter to me, as long as the res is above 480x800.
Aaron Richards Quality > Density
Brandon Paul You better believe it.
George Cruz I think retina display is good for me.
Kris Sinclair I need supreme quality
Sean Watson Yes very important. Specially since my phone came out before hd displays even came out
Mc Jason Luardo Laurete What matters is the pixel density... As long as it has above 300 ppi..
David DiPilla They need to have 1080p displays now
Kev Baldwin Of course its important to have have display quality.. Wtf is that question lol...
Jaime Espinoza @ Kyle Ezra ....No the HTC Butteryfly has the best Display http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57533910-94/htc-j-butterfly-5-inch-smartphone-destined-for-japan/.
Ian Baylon VGA>Retina
Marti Ruiz ten eighty p
Nathan Wright It's good enough on my 5, I dislike bigger phones.
Joel Diaz It matters a lot to me.
Kyle Mezrahi lumia 920 has the best display on any mobile phone. :)
Juwon Donte Very important
Ubaldo Zacarias Display is very important!
Tyler Frodl Yeah now that I have an HD phone
Lowell Orlando Richmond no..and really shouldn't ,i use symbian and people laugh but laugh at them cause their hd screen is eating their battery lmao while i'm chillin with my low res smartphone Os which is saving me time,battery life and money lol
Patric Pederson The retina display on the iPhone may not be "HD" but it is amazing.
Dinael Valdivia yes a loott !
Nick Guerrero G Love it on my one x.
Andy Cheakalos no its all about pixel density
Sam Rick Yes...display matters a lot to me.
Steve C Trevino Hell yes might as well get it all since these cell phone bills are high anyway. Hoping this htc 1080 phone will be nice.
K.j. Littlejohn I guess it kinda matter..I still have moments where I sit back and check out the cool viewing angles of my gnexus
Michal Polak Not really. What I find truly important is a density of pixels. “Retina”, right? ;-)
Luis Angel Quiles HTC One X 720p amazing.
Th?nh Lê As long as it doesn't hinder battery performance
Roger Ohlsson Almost everything after os
Leroy Langston rather tremendously
Glen Bloomfield On a 5 inch screen pure ecstasy.

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