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Android may soon support 4K displays (and crazy PPI displays)

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Android may soon support 4K displays (and crazy PPI displays)
You may have thought that smartphone displays would be stopping at 1080p, and tablets may take a while to move past the 2560x1600, but some new code inside Android 4.3 indicates that Google is getting ready to offer support for crazy high pixel density as well as 4K displays. Apparently, Android 4.3 has added support for XXXHDPI, which is for screens with an approximate DPI of 640.

Let's roll back a bit to give some context there. Android smartphones started out in the Medium DPI (MDPI) range of ~160ppi, which is what you'd find on the T-Mobile G1. Eventually, we moved up to HDPI (~240ppi), which was the Nexus S type display. We then blew right through the XHDPI range (~320ppi) which were essentially the 720p displays on devices like the Nexus 4, and we are now in the world of the XXHDPI range (~480ppi) which you'll find on 1080p displays like the HTC One. 

So, the idea of an XXXHDPI display is pretty crazy. Of course, in all likelihood the reason this resolution support has been added isn't for high-res smartphones or tablets, but for 4K TVs, and for Android's move past mobile and into traditional laptops and desktops. We've already heard Sundar Pichai talking about big things coming to Google TV this year, and 4K support would be a big addition for the platform. 

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posted on 26 Jul 2013, 10:53 5

1. Jklaz (Posts: 159; Member since: 01 Jul 2013)


4k phone would be a little much. 1080p on anything 5 inch or less is virtually impossible to decipher pixels. Watching content on my 100" projector screen in 1080p on the other hand is much less smooth if I sit closer.. wonder what Google has in store

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 10:55 12

4. roldefol (Posts: 4332; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)


"4k phone would be a little much"

Understatement of the year. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the "necessity" of 1080 on a 4.7" screen.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:06 27

6. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5498; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


Have you ever heard that Android is not only about the phones?

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:29 1

13. TheLolGuy (Posts: 483; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


Indeed.

"The Internet of Things"

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 14:56

32. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Somehow, I see the market for GPUs outpacing the market for CPUs. 4K video with 640+ PPI density will require an Adreno 1K (maybe even a 4K) series.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 12:04 4

19. ZeroCide (Posts: 779; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)


If you ask TROLL its a necessity.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 15:00

33. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Consumers seem to think that 1080p on a 4.7 inch screen is the minimum functional requirement for them to buy a high end Android smartphone. MS seems to be feeling the heat as well, since WP8 is being upgraded for 1080p display. Only hold-out is Apple, and who knows, the iP6 may well have similar specs (1080p, 4.7 inch display).

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 16:50 1

37. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 1116; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


There is a difference between 720p and 1080p which i noticed when i switched to a 1080p phone, 720p phones don't look as sharp, and while you are using it on your bed the screen stays close to your face and i could distinguish individual pixels on a 720p screen but not on the 1080p one.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:27 2

12. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


I want my phone to be able to output 4k.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:40 2

15. Commentator (Posts: 3709; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


So do I, not for any practical purpose, but because I think the idea of simply being able to is absolutely awesome.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 12:15

22. icyrock1 (Posts: 307; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)


I'm pretty sure this will *likely* be for android TV's, and Android Tablets that venture into that realm.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 13:20

26. sid07desai (Posts: 290; Member since: 03 May 2012)


I think Android should allow us to vary the screen resolution just like Windows. It might help conserve battery?

posted on 27 Jul 2013, 01:26

42. -box- (Posts: 3991; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


We'd need massive storage for 4K. A standard Blu-ray movie tends to run 12-25GB, some even more (Blu-Rays hold 25GB per layer). Most phones can only do 1080p at 30fps, so for worthwhile functionality better processors and more RAM.

Also, Android isn't the only one with provisions for 4K. Windows Phone 8.1 is rumored to get support for up to 8K built-in with its move closer to desktop Windows.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 10:55

2. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)


I would want to get a 4K TV but the price is way out of budget for me. I want to hear what Sundar Pichi's plans are later this year.

posted on 27 Jul 2013, 01:08

41. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


4K programming would likely kill even a FIOS cable connection (Terabyte downloads, anyone?). This feature may be getting a bit out in front of the present state of most infrastructure it would be connected to.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 10:55 10

3. mas11 (Posts: 1034; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)


There's not much of a need for anything past 1080p smartphones. Manufactures should focus on efficiency and Quality now.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 12:17 4

23. icyrock1 (Posts: 307; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)


They need to focus on Battery. Life. Screw the perceived "quality", because that's subjective to everyone.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 10:59 5

5. datsyuk (Posts: 179; Member since: 11 Jan 2012)


Agreed. While tech keeps getting better there truly isn't a need for anything above 1080p. I am all for 4k for computer monitors and televisions though bring it on!

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:06 1

7. ahmed_ali_yossef2010 (Posts: 164; Member since: 26 Jul 2012)


this is time to make better batteries and thinner phones with bigger batteries

1080p screen is excellent

maybe 1080p without the pentile matrix is the next move for AMOLED displays
for LCD the Ability to adjust colors between saturated and true to life colors

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:10 4

8. Klamba92 (Posts: 210; Member since: 25 Jun 2012)


1080p is pretty much overkill already focus on battery life and efficiency and storage. What's the point of a 4k phone if you can only use it for around 3 hours before a recharge. I thought Google wanted to slow down the needless specs race?

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:19 1

9. Mrmark (Posts: 294; Member since: 26 Jan 2013)


What's the point of a camera on a phone! What's the point of stereo speakers on a phone! The jump from 720 to 1080 we saw a much improved clarity so I am guessing that it would be the same... I remember when the galaxy s2 came out and how gorgeous the screen look but when compared to the S4 the s2 looks way outdated... Point made.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 12:06

21. Klamba92 (Posts: 210; Member since: 25 Jun 2012)


I understand what you are saying, but on a screen that small you are not going notice the a significant difference between them. Wouldn't you rather have a 768p- 1080p hd phone that lasts more than 3 days? I hope that if it is 4k its for the TV, chromecast or for projectors!

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:19 1

10. Zeus.k (unregistered)


It might look like an overkill right now but that's what most people said about 720p and 1080p displays. Just because we can't use a tech right now doesn't make it useless. I mean look at Ubuntu edge, it's literally a pc in your pocket. That's the future. All in one device which you can connect to a display anywhere and you have a desktop computer or tv or anything you need. It's my personal opinion though but I would say bring it on.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 16:54

38. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 1116; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


It looks like an overkill now, and it will still look like an overkill if they do it.

Most people don't think at the downsides of the ever increasing screen resolution on mobile phones, more pixels to push = more processing power spent, and the mobile GPUs have to deal with these insane resolutions while desktop GPUs are also used for this kind of resolutions.

I would rather see phones stay with 1080p but with improved brightness/blacks/contrast/colour gamut/efficiency.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:19 3

11. HeWhoDoesNothing (Posts: 157; Member since: 15 Jul 2013)


Yeah I was thinking they really need up the ante. I can see every single pixel on these 1080p screens. I'm glad this might come to change. SAID NO ONE EVER.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:32 2

14. rallyguy (Posts: 620; Member since: 13 Mar 2012)


Makes sense, especially since the Chromecast just came out. Planning for the future, instead of reacting to it. Good job Google.

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:41 1

16. iStabrak (banned) (Posts: 21; Member since: 26 Jul 2013)


Android leads, others will follow!

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 12:05

20. ZeroCide (Posts: 779; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)


Only when it is a necessity

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:45

17. softfurryanus (banned) (Posts: 232; Member since: 09 Jul 2013)


Sounds like merely a bragging tactic with no real use unfortunately, the screens will take up more processing power and battery and the only real battery improvements we're seeing are with android itself, we need better batteries!

posted on 26 Jul 2013, 11:47 2

18. Commentator (Posts: 3709; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


So the first two paragraphs are all about how 4K screens will push the PPI limit on Android smartphones even further, yet the last paragraph is all about how we probably won't see 4K displays on Android smartphones, but on TVs and the like. Quite the pivot there.

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