Smartphone Displays Explained: OLED vs LCD vs AMOLED

Which one you choose as the best one: AMOLED, LCD, or OLED?


Once upon a time, there were people who left without phones. And now, we can't see such a single individual without holding a smartphone in their hand. Hypothetically speaking, smartphones have come a long way from their original inception.

Smartphone Displays Explained: OLED vs LCD vs AMOLED

We see some constant improvements in the smartphone space, almost every day. Popular brands such as the Samsung, Apple, Google, LG, Lenovo, Motorola, etc., are coming up with their unique style of representing a smartphone to the audience.

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In the year 2016 itself, we have seen numerous technologies popped out. It started with the modular space (of course, the LG G5 was a mess) and we now have the augmented reality phones in the form of Lenovo Phab 2 Pro.

Having said that, a smartphone's major part is its display. The first opinion of a smartphone will be rated according to its display itself. Samsung and LG are doing a pretty decent job in the smartphone's display segment. But, how are they achieving that significant difference from other vendors?

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Well, just like the chipsets, the smartphone displays are also of three types- LCD, OLED, and AMOLED panels. Each display type has its set of advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we are going to discuss the three display types along with their benefits and disadvantages.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

Before starting the LCD type, we must say that the LCD type displays have been around with us for a long time. LCD is a flat panel display which uses light emitting properties of liquid crystals. And, these light crystals are illuminated by a fluorescent backlight.

LCD displays are used in various components such as computer monitors, televisions, digital camera, etc. However, the smartphone LCD panels are classified into two types- IPS LCD, TFT LCD. Speaking about the IPS LCD, they are usually seen on high-end smartphones and consumes less battery than the TFT screens. On the other hand, the TFT displays are inexpensive, however, causes a lot of battery drain.

Coming to the advantages and disadvantages part, the LCD offers better sunlight legibility and consumes less power (only with the IPS panels), but they lack the deep blacks offered by AMOLED panels.

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OLED Panels (Organic Light-emitting Diode)

OLED Panels (Organic Light-emitting Diode)

OLED display contains a LED, which further comprises an organic material that emits light when current is passed through. As said earlier, OLED's exhibit deeper and darker blacks than the usual LED's. Same as the case with LCD displays, the OLED panels are also classified into two types- PMOLED and AMOLED. Many of us have mostly heard about the AMOLED displays, but most of us haven't heard about PMOLED displays.


Defined as Passive Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode, these displays are very easy to fabricate. These PMOLED displays use a simple control scheme where each row of the screen will be monitored in a sequential manner. That being said, the PMOLED panels turned out to be a huge disappointment because of their durability as they won't sustain for larger periods.


The newest sensation in the display arena, AMOLED panels is derived from the OLED displays itself. It uses the same mechanism as the PMOLED displays but comes with support for larger display sizes. For example, the PMOLED panels can only support display sizes up to 3-inch, whereas the AMOLED panels don't have any restriction regarding display size.

There are a vast number of advantages for the AMOLED panels when compared to LCD panels. First major one is that AMOLED displays can be used to any display size and they produce faster refresh rate as well along with dark and inky blacks.

Unlike the LCD panels, the AMOLED ones provide exact color contrasts. Nevertheless, they have some disadvantages as well. The major one is the AMOLED panels won't produce higher brightness levels under direct sunlight, which is a huge letdown. Another one is they consume more battery life.



As quoted earlier, the LCD's have been with us for a while now, and several smartphone brands are not hesitating to use them. We can't compare AMOLED with OLED panels as it is derived from the OLED panel itself. Between the LCD and AMOLED panels, the winner will be the AMOLED with its punchier colors, deep contrast levels, and faster refresh rate.

However, the LCD panels get an advantage over the AMOLED panels regarding sunlight legibility, but this issue has been recently fixed with the introduction of Super AMOLED panels (sAMOLED). So clearly, if you find any smartphone with AMOLED display, it should be the best one in the market.

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