Birches NEWS No. 80. Why an FHD smartphone isn't needed in 2019

Sensational investigation into the conspiracy of smartphone manufacturers, but it is inaccurate.

Birches NEWS No. 80.  Why an FHD smartphone isn't needed in 2019

The most absurd statement that can only be heard in a store from a consultant is: “This smartphone is better because it has a FullHD + screen resolution, and the one you are holding only has HD.” Why is this statement absurd? Could it be because the world is not yet ready for FHD + screens in our smartphones?

Ladders and individual pixels

When we talk only about a smartphone screen, pulling it out of a single concept of mobile technologies, then, other things being equal, its main characteristic is image clarity. In the interface Android all graphic elements have scalable sizes, which are displayed based on the size of the diagonal of the smartphone, and not at all its physical resolution. For those who have not read it yet, I highly recommend reading an article on this topic from AMR resident Andrey Podkin. We are most interested in the question of whether the 'ladders' and 'individual pixels' are visible in modern smartphones with 720p screens, and if so, why.

To begin with, we will choose a reference point from which we will build on in further reasoning. It is well known that two factors affect the distance a person takes the screen from his face. The first factor is the strength of the user's hands, and the second is the quality of his vision. We can safely say that in the modern world, most often this distance is about 25-30 cm, which reflects the portrait of such an average user with 'one' vision in both eyes (or with glasses), with strong enough hands to hold the phone at a comfortable distance on behalf of. A note about arm strength came from accidentally visiting a site filled with vegetarian food. The above spacing was previously mentioned when describing the 'Retina' marketing technology from Apple, and it also mentioned a pixel per inch (ppi) density of 300 units.

Birches NEWS No. 80.  Why an FHD smartphone isn't needed in 2019

This was before Google decided to put things in order and standardize the size of the graphical objects of its interface, to make them the same, regardless of the diagonal and resolution of the smartphone screen. This was done in the end. This is easy to verify by just looking at how many application icons fit on the 'default' desktop. From a typical distance of 25-30 centimeters, you can still see individual pixels on a 480p screen, but looking at 1080p and 720p screens, you are not thinking about pixels, but that you can not see any difference.

Birches NEWS No. 80.  Why an FHD smartphone isn't needed in 2019

If you rest your nose on the screen, then the difference is still visible

It is believed that high resolution on a smartphone screen is necessary only in case of watching high-quality videos and VR, and nowhere else. But what can I say, when performing any other tasks, the user, most likely, simply will not be able to get a picture characterized by complete coincidence of the software rendering and the screen matrix (when running third-party applications). Let's consider some of the typical tasks to confirm or refute this statement.

Internet surfing

It seems that in the holy of holies – in browsers when surfing the Internet, there is a forced degradation of the image in most cases. To suspect something was wrong, just look at the global StatCounter report, obtained by tracking the resolution of the software rendering of the most popular browsers in millions of smartphones:

Birches NEWS No. 80.  Why an FHD smartphone isn't needed in 2019

From earlier information, we know that the most popular browser on the planet is Google Chrome, which gives reason to give the rendering of 360×640 pixels (and those close to it) under its responsibility. We cannot know this for sure, because no one keeps such statistics and the details are known only to industrial developers, but this conclusion is sufficiently substantiated. We can assume that someone still has smartphones with a screen resolution of 360×640 pixels in their hands, but their number cannot be so significant in 2019. This means that we are most likely dealing with a simplified web browsing mode in Google Chrome. And also the fact that most sites easily scale to the lowest threshold. And by the way, about the threshold values, why exactly 360 × 640 pixels, and not 240 × 400 in the simplified view mode?

Birches NEWS No. 80.  Why an FHD smartphone isn't needed in 2019

On a smartphone, which can be from 4 to 6 inches, an image with a resolution of 240 × 400 pixels, stretched across the display matrix, looks equally bad compared to images of 360p and 1080p. It was found out empirically, I cannot provide a scientific and technical substantiation of this phenomenon, but the 240p picture seems to begin to 'crumble'. Of course, on a screen with a diagonal of two and a half inches (the minimum possible for Android Pie (9.0) on CDD) all three images would look the same, but such devices are still to be looked for.

The truth, however bitter it may be, must be acknowledged with eyes wide open – when surfing the web, a smartphone with a FullHD + screen is no better than a smartphone with an HD screen.

Watching the rendering of letters while reading a screen

It seems like real delusion, because it is. Many of us started reading with phones and WM-smartphones at the dawn of the digital revolution, and the screen resolution of ancient devices was 240 × 320 pixels at best, and 176 × 220 pixels at worst. This did not interfere with reading, and the only thing that bothered me was the rapid drain on the battery.

Birches NEWS No. 80.  Why an FHD smartphone isn't needed in 2019

This cute joke was posted on Reddit back in 2017. Maybe even earlier? Write if you know exactly.

The picture above shows the difference between 720p and 1080p perfectly. Despite the obvious joke, the fact remains that a 1080p screen can accommodate far more small, unreadable text than 720p.

In games

In Birches NEWS # 76, we carefully examined the behavior of modern chipsets in the most popular MMO shooters and other games with rich 3D graphics.

Birches NEWS No. 80.  Why an FHD smartphone isn't needed in 2019

Since then, nothing has radically changed, and you can play world hits on your smartphone only with a number of reservations. And the main one is why buy an FHD smartphone (or even 2k) to play PUBG or Fortnite, if the game itself will cut the render to HD size? Even if there is a top-end Qualcomm or Bionic inside.

Energy consumption issues

Smartphone and display manufacturers never share their product power consumption data with the public. But it is obvious that the power consumption of the smartphone screen is influenced by the matrix manufacturing technology, and within one technology – its diagonal and pixel density. The only gulp of reliable information was the Google plaque as part of the 2016 Pixel presentation.

Birches NEWS No. 80.  Why an FHD smartphone isn't needed in 2019

From which you can see that a good 5-inch FHD AMOLED – the screen consumes only 350 mA at maximum brightness when working in the most difficult mode – mixing three colors (white on the icon). A simple recalculation of pixels shows that in the case of using AMOLED HD-matrix power consumption will be a record 155 mA at maximum brightness. But do not forget that AMOLED is not an IPS, where the picture is many times more sad. Numerous studies of IPS-matrices give about the same result, a 5-inch FHD IPS-matrix at maximum brightness consumes about 1500 mA, and HD about 1000 mA.

The power consumption bonus of the HD screen compared to FHD is at least 30%, which is not so small.

Other expenses

Most users handle their devices carefully, but if you have to replace a broken screen, then you should remember about the difference in price between HD and FHD displays, it can differ by half.


Currently, there is no smartphone on the market that combines a powerful chipset and an HD screen, which would be the best solution for everyday use. The 1080p + lettering on the box continues to appeal to shoppers who think they can consume content at the same resolution. For many, this has become the minimum threshold when making a purchase decision, but for what? For more battery drain, for looking at the interface Android, for VR games (they're all terrible) and watching a movie in 1080p once a year? Friends, if you know the answers to these questions, please share your opinion in the comments. Why do you need an FHD smartphone? Buy HD.

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