Guide to 2014 Smartphone Screen Tech: 2K Screens, Curved Screens, Dual Displays
Quick: Check the display resolution on your laptop. Chances are it has a perfectly acceptable resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. If you're lucky, maybe 1920 x 1080 pixels, good enough for 1080p High Definition movie-watching.
Well here's some big news: Come 2014 you'll be able to get a breathtaking resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels... but I don't mean on your laptop. I mean on your cell phone.
If you upgraded your phone to a high-end model in 2013, you probably already have a 1920 x 1080 display on it. This is known as "Full HD," named because it's the most detailed level of High Definition screen resolution that's currently commercially available. Getting a resolution this refined on a screen of just five or so inches in size is no easy feat. As Digital Trends notes, a 1080p resolution on the Samsung Galaxy S4's 5-inch display packs in a mammoth 441 pixels per inch. (By comparison, a 60-inch television with 1080p resolution would have just 37 pixels per inch, making the phone display 10 times more dense.)
But 441ppi is sounding positively Neolithic as those displays prepare to make a big jump. Earlier this year, Qualcomm demonstrated 2560 x 1440 pixels on a 5.1-inch display. Part of a technology known as Mirasol, this display type is similar to "electronic ink" displays -- only in full color -- and will appear in a number of products in the upcoming months, including not just phone screens but also wearable technology like smart watches. (The technology also uses just one-sixth the power of a conventional Organic LED, or OLED, display.)
While only one phone using 1440p technology (sometimes known as "2K") has formally launched with the Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Vivo Xplay 3S, many more phones using 1440p screen technology are undoubtedly on the way.
Up next is so-called 4K technology, offering a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (and other resolutions in that general vicinity, depending on the aspect ratio of the screen). Digital Trends (link above) notes that Samsung has projected to analysts that it will have 4K technology in devices in 2015. Fortunately, the newly announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 already has enough graphics processing power to handle 4K screens.
Screen resolution is of course only one piece of the puzzle, as screens themselves are evolving in exciting and unexpected ways. Perhaps the most notable of these is the advent of curved and flexible displays. LG's G Flex phone and the Samsung Galaxy Round, both featuring a slightly curved (but non-flexible) screen, have already arrived in Asia. Phones that can actually bend and flex like rubber are likely to hit the market in 2015 at the latest. And if that's not enough, those phones may very well have two high-definition displays, one on either side of the device.
Better get ready to make some calls.