2014 is expected to bring us not only higher-resolution displays like the Quad HD 2560 x 1440-pixel screen rumored to come with phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5
, but also dramatically improved colors. The culprit? A nascent ‘quantum dots’ LCD technology that we first saw in the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch tablet last year. While the technology appeared on just one tablet last year, quantum dot displays are expected to become much more common in 2014, bringing a much needed improvement in smartphones and tablets, according to DisplayMate screen expert Raymond Soneira.
The problem with current LCD technology is that it uses white LED’s with yellow phosphorus that produce broad light spectrum, which makes it hard to achieve nicely saturated colors. Quantum dots, in contrast, are capable of converting light from blue LEDs directly to produce highly saturated colors, similar to the ones in AMOLED displays. Even better, quantum dots allow precise tuning and calibration during the manufacturing process, which should increase the color accuracy.
The staggering difference can be best seen in a spectrum chart comparing a traditional LCD display (used in the iPad mini) to a ‘quantum dot’
one (used in the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7).
The new technology would also be instrumental in overcoming the narrow color gamut of devices like the iPad mini with Retina and the Microsoft Surface 2.
All in all, we can expect to see not just sharper screens on mobile devices in 2014, but more accurate and colorful ones. What’s not to love about this? Feel free to also check out the slideshow right below showing other upcoming technologies that will improve our mobile screens soon.
All eyes on 2014: what's next for mobile displays
All eyes on 2014: what's next for mobile displays
1. The new resolution: 2560 x 1440, QHD
First, let’s speak about the elephant in the room - QHD. Often referred to as 2K or WQHD, we have decided to use the QHD name that most display makers use for the 2560 x 1440-pixel screens that we’ll see on smartphones in 2014. Cramming even more pixels in our smartphones displays will make everything our screens look sharper, but the change will be most noticeable when looking at fine elements - for instance when reading text that will look very crisp and paper-like. We’re smitten by the quick advances in display resolutions. In a push driven by Apple with its “Retina” screen, the boom started happening around 2010 with the iPhone 4’s 640 x 960 pixel screen. 720p followed quickly after in devices like the Samsung Galaxy S III in 2012, and everyone moved to 1080p in 2013.
2. The big story: LTPS will bring us longer lasting phones and tablets
Resolution is just part of the story, though. The drive for more pixels brought us to the limits of the amorphous silicon (a-Si) technology. The limit was something called electron mobility that was too slow for our new pixel appetites. The saviour was talked about for years prior, and it was Sharp’s new indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) technology. IGZO promised more than 10x the electron mobility at only a fraction of the power budget. A true win-win situation. The technology finally arrived in the 2013 iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina, but meanwhile - a bit under the radars - an even more efficient technology called low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) gained some traction in tablets like the Microsoft Surface 2 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX. These two became the longest lasting tablets out there for a reason, but we expect LTPS to gain even wider acceptance in 2014. This year might help us move from tablets lasting 10 hours on a single charge to a new generation of tablets lasting 15 hours on a single charge shift.
3. Gorilla Glass 4: antimicrobial, anti-reflective
Third in order, but not in importance, is the new Gorilla Glass 4 that will add microbe resistance, protection from reflections and more to our mobile displays. Corning has just confirmed it will be demoing an antimicrobial and antireflective new glass at CES 2014, so stay tuned for an actual product demo in just a few days.
4. Ahead of the curve: new form factors
Curved displays finally arrived in 2013, but the actual device they were in were not flexible. That was a bit of disappointment for the average user who expected a new form factor. Despite that slight setback from customers after the LG G Flex and Samsung Galaxy Round made the rounds, flexible display technology will only continue to evolve and gain scale in 2014. Leaked Samsung slides revealed the company actually plans to unleash flexible phones on us en masse only in 2015 and later. Patience is virtue, remember.
5. Better visibility: Apical’s Assertive Display
A software technology that helps a screen adjust to light just as a human eye would, Apical’s Assertive Display tech, made a quite debut in 2013, but it’s set to get more acceptance this year, in 2014. Right now in devices like the Nokia Lumia 1520 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD series of tablets, it keeps pace with changing light much better than all others. The beauty of it all is that it’s a purely software-based solution that supports Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line of chips, so we can easily see it in many new devices.