Resolution, shmesolution: Does it even mean anything for smartphones anymore?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Resolution is an interesting subject... sort of. It doesn't sound like it is, but when you think about it... well, maybe it still isn't really. But just looking at how far we've come in just these past few years when it comes to how visually pleasing the resolutions in our smartphones is somewhat of an interesting topic to discuss. I mean, we go from having something like the original iPhone with a 320x480 resolution screen for 163 ppi, to devices that have a 1920x1080 resolution (ppi varying for different sized phones). It's a huge jump in numbers and a huge jump in visual quality, but there comes a point where resolution just doesn't seem to do anything for us anymore. They just become big numbers on a spec sheet, because after a certain amount we can't really tell any difference anyway.
I bring this up because in recent news, we hear that LG has made some superfantasticcrazyawesome display that's going to blow all others out of the water. Our news hound Alex reported that this new 5.5-inch 2560x1440 display would have a whopping 538 pixels per inch, and is considered to be the first Quad HD AH-IPS display to be made. It's pretty awesome that we're able to create such high quality displays, but at the same time it seems like wasted efforts.
We can't see the difference, because even a perfect human eye can only see about 447 ppi.
Now, I'd like for you to keep in mind that this technology isn't exactly wasteful in every sense, just in the sense that it looks like LG is planning to implement this in future smartphones. I don't know about anybody else, but the last time I audibly "wowed" at a display, it was when I saw Apple's Retina Display on the iPhone 4. I still think that Retina Display looks good, even after 3 years since the iPhone 4's debut. Even though bigger and better displays have been introduced, nothing has stood out to me as boldly as Retina Display did. Resolution has just become a stated number, and had these numbers not been stated I would have probably never known that the quality of the screen was that much better than Retina Display.
Smartphone screens can only benefit from higher resolution for so long, and unfortunately we've already hit that limit. When we are reading our smartphones they're generally a good distance away from our eyes. The only time we hold them right up to our faces is for listening purposes, not for viewing. But while smartphones can't truly benefit from having a ridiculously high resolution anymore, upcoming gadgets like Oculus Rift, which focuses on virtual reality, probably could. Those screens are meant to be in close proximity with our eyes, so I can see where LG's resolution boost could benefit something along those lines. But for smartphones I would have liked to see the effort placed elsewhere.
There's still plenty of room for "innovation" in the mobile industry. Nokia's ability to put a high quality camera in a smartphone, HTC's efforts to try and convince us that megapixels aren't the most important thing in a camera, Samsung's growing list of Smart features and Apple's personal assistant, Siri, are all things that I have considered to be innovative to the industry. There isn't much to be said about LG at this point in time. They can make a decent phone, but LG doesn't really have any defining features that make it worth remembering. I'll likely forget about this amazing display from them before long as well, because resolution is no longer important to me in a smartphone. I have already hit the limit where I can tell how much higher quality one resolution is compared to the other. Anything above Retina Display, which is now 3-year-old technology, is A-OK.
In the end, it's awesome that we're able to produce this kind of technology, it really is. But as humans, we can only see so much detail through our eyes, and I really feel that, for smartphones, we're wasting our time trying to produce these fantastic screens. Most of us can see our smartphone screens clear as day. Meanwhile, my 15.6-inch laptop still only gets 1366x768, so maybe if we could work on that...
Readers, what are your thoughts on manufacturers creating displays with higher resolutions than we have? Is resolution something that you still care about at this point? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Image via Digital Spy