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Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and Retina
Liquid crystal is a fascinating substance that has molecular properties of both liquids and solids — the application of an electrical current affects those properties, allowing more or less light to pass through a particular pixel, creating a gray scale.
In a full-color display, each pixel has three sub-pixels: one with a red filter, one with green, and one with blue. To create colors, different levels of light are passed through each sub-pixel. If you look really closely at an LCD screen, you can often pick out the sub-pixels, as in this image:
Apple’s Retina technology is a specific type of LCD called an in-place switching (IPS) LCD. This technology offers wider viewing angles and lower power consumption. The Retina label is applied when the pixel density is higher than can be distinguished by the human eye.
Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED)
Traditional LEDs, however, are too large to be used to create small displays; they may be used on the mega-screens you see in stadiums and in digital advertising, but you won’t see them in your cell phone display.
OLEDS, unlike LEDs, use carbon-based substances to create light instead of base metals. The molecular difference isn’t what’s important here, though — the advantage of OLEDs over LEDs is that they’re significantly smaller, meaning they can be used to create mobile displays at high resolutions. They’re so small, in fact, that they can actually be applied to materials by an inkjet printer or screen printing.
Because each pixel is individually lit, and there’s no large backlight, OLEDs offer significantly better blacks than LCD screens, and they’re also superior in terms of power consumption. Their very small size make them lighter, as well.
However, OLEDs are generally quite expensive in comparison to LCDs, and blue diodes tend to degrade faster than other colors, leaving OLED screens with color-balance issues after many hours of use.
Active-Matrix OLED (AMOLED)
While OLEDs are more power-efficient than LCD screens, manufacturers of mobile devices are always looking for ways to increase the battery life of their devices, and adding an active matrix to OLED technology is one of the ways they can do this.
An active matrix is a thin-film transistor that’s integrated with the OLED matrix. This might sound complicated and technical, but the takeaway is simple: the circuitry for lighting the LEDs is more closely integrated with the LEDs themselves, reducing the amount of power that’s needed to operate the display. This leads to better battery life in your device. They also have faster refresh rates (what is a refresh rate?), making them good for watching video.
Many Samsung products, including the Galaxy S5, sport Super AMOLED screens, which integrate the touchscreen technology into the AMOLED display, allowing for an even thinner and lighter screen.
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