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AMOLED versus LCD touchscreens - What's the difference?

Posted on 14 November 2012
Think of a smartphone and you're almost certain to think of one with a touchscreen. While the varying models and manufacturers utilise different technologies and techniques when producing their touchscreen, there are really only two types. These are AMOLED, favoured by manufacturers including Samsung, Motorola and Nokia, and LCD, typically used by Apple, HTC and Sony.

Neither type of touchscreen is better than the other, but they do have different characteristics that you might prefer. Here's Carphone Warehouse's guide to the difference between AMOLED and LCD display.

Normally pronounced "Ah-mo-el-ee-de" and sometimes "Ah-mo-led", AMOLED stands for the rather complex sounding Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. There are three main characteristics of an AMOLED display.

AMOLED display
Saturated colours.
The contrast on an AMOLED screen means that the colours look ultra bright and warm. This vivid colour reproduction isn't very realistic, but many people prefer this to a more realistic approach. Check it out in person to see if you prefer it!

Power saving.
Another benefit of the way AMOLEDs reproduce black is power saving. Whenever the display is showing black colours, those parts of the screen are actually not using any power, meaning the battery isn't having to waste energy powering them. Watching Twilight, for example, on an AMOLED screen, with all its night scenes, is very efficient. It does mean, however, that when you're surfing the net, all those predominantly white pages are making the screen work flat out.

Darker blacks.
The technology used in an AMOLED display means that when the screen shows black, those parts of the screen are actually turned off. This means that the reproduction of blacks and other dark colours is perfect dark. If you're into watching scary movies or simply prefer true black, AMOLED is the way to go.

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, and they've been used for many years in a huge variety of products from televisions to digital watches. here are the three main strengths of an LCD display.

LCD display
Realistic colours.
The colour reproduction on LCD screens is normally very true to real life, meaning that websites, menus and photos often have a more realistic colour set. Not everyone prefers this approach, so be sure to check out an LCD screen in the flesh to see if you like it.

Sharper image quality.
The pixels, which are the tiny individual coloured sections of a screen that light up to form colours and shapes, are typically arranged in a neater and tighter pattern with LCDs. While you can't really see the individual pixels with the naked eye on most high quality screens, this neater pattern equates to sharper text and images. This makes the screens a litter crisper for media content.

Great in direct sunlight.
Because LCDs are backlit (they have their own light source when they're turned on), LCDs are typically much easier to view in sunlight. If you work outdoors, have a holiday home somewhere sunny or plan to use your phone in the car, an LCD screen will be more useful under bright light sources.

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LCD and AMOLED technologies both produce sharp, bright displays, and the only way to see which is best suited to you is to play around with them for a few minutes. Why not get down to one of our 794 stores to see for yourself?