After displays, what's going to get our focus?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: December 24, 2013

I’ve been told in the past that I’m a big fan of pixels. A “pixel junky,” even. Obsessed. I’ve dismissed devices in the past as my personal device simply because the screen wasn’t up to par. Whether that was color representation or seeing pixels when I look at the battery meter, I could only stand it for a handful of minutes before I had to get rid of it. For me, the display is just as important as the camera from a feature perspective, simply because I have to look at the thing every day, so I shouldn’t be disappointed by what I’m looking at more often than not.

Luckily, we’ve reached a point where our displays are high definition panels extraordinaire, and our TVs are no longer the best displays in the house. Well, most houses, I guess. There are some ridiculously awesome TVs out there.

I’m all right being obsessed with pixels, but it’s not that I count them or even pay attention to the number that a company promotes in their marketing materials. That part doesn’t matter to me. When it comes to having a phone in-hand, that’s what’s important. You can throw all the marketing jargon you want at me, and try to sell me the phone, that’s great. But it won’t matter until I get the phone in my hand, and see it for myself.

But we know that most consumers love numbers, right? The higher the number the better. That’s why we’ve got to have all the megapixels for our cameras, and why touting a 4-megapixel camera in this day-and-age may not be the best strategy ever. That’s why it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise that we’re still counting pixels, long after it doesn’t even matter anymore.

It started with the iPhone 4, and it hasn’t died down since. In fact, it’s just become worse.

I get the idea, because it’s marketing. We’re making our displays better and better, and part of the marketing churn now is throwing the number of pixels out there, so people (consumers) have another (usually large) number to look at and get excited about.

I can’t help but think about what’s next, though. In 2014 we’re going to see a lot of different types of displays, just as we did in 2013, but there has to be a point where the companies behind these screens realize the PPI doesn’t even matter anymore. The majority of displays in 2014 are going to be HD displays, from 720p and up, and they’ll all have plenty of pixels. Too many for the regular person to see, as long as they hold the phone a normal distance away from their face.

So what’s next? What’s after the display love and obsession? We’ve become so focused on displays in the industry that we’ve forced it to get better faster than any other area. In some regards, our screens have gotten too good for what they’re even displaying! But hey, most people wouldn’t complain about that.

This year we’ll supposedly see the release of QHD (Quad HD) displays, which means they’ll have a resolution of 2560x1440, and a 5.2-inch display will have a pixel per inch count around 559. That’s ridiculous. But, if that’s as good as it can get, or realistically should get, then we’re going to have to move our attention to some other part of our devices.

What will it be? We’ve already seen this kind of attention put on our processors, and that’s why we’ve got octa-core processors out there in the real world. And cameras? Again, we’ve put the spotlight on that particular function of our phones in the past — and thanks to Nokia, that 41MP camera is a high benchmark to reach.

So I want to hear from you. I want to know what you think the next big focus of our industry will be, after we ride the display train to the end. What do you think we’ll start focusing on in 2014? What would you like to see get improved ten-fold, and faster than ever before? Let me know!

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