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February 20, 2013

HTC One’s display pixel density kicks butt

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The HTC One ups the ante on the iPhone 5, packing more pixels closer together than Apple’s touted Retina technology.

The HTC One has taken the pixel density crown, leaving phones with Retina display in the dust. First, to get a sense of the HTC One’s screen density, a quick comparison to Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which has also been praised for its display, puts this into perspective.

The Surface Pro packs a a very impressive resolution of 1,920×1,080 into a 10.6-inch panel. One of the highest pixel densities (208 pixels per inch, to be exact) for a Windows 8 PC to date.

The HTC One packs that same resolution (1,920×1,080) into a 4.7-inch screen. That’s more than 2 million pixels, yielding 468 pixels per inch (ppi). Yep you read that correctly; it has more than double the amount of ppi than The Surface Pro.

“That makes it the current record holder for announced/shipping consumer products,” Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate has announced.

Some products get close, though. Last summer, Sharp and LG announced a new class of very high-ppi displays with 440ppi, which is 1,920×1,080 in a 5-inch (phablet) size.

The first shipping product in the U.S. with this display is the HTC Droid DNA, which began shipping in December and is a Sharp display.

Other manufacturers including Samsung are working on this new format. LG is now also shipping a 440 ppi display, which, though a slightly lower pixel density, is visually indistinguishable from HTC One’s display.

Sharp is making its 440+ ppi screens using a technology called Continuous Grain Silicon. “It has higher electron mobility than either IGZO or amorphous silicon, which allows for maximum aperture ratio/light transmission,” according to Soneira. Translation: More light can get through the closely packed pixels than conventional technology, leading to brighter very-high-resolution screens.

And what about the inevitable comparison to Apple’s Retina display tech?

Now; 468 ppi is substantially higher than the iPhone 5’s 326 ppi. What does that mean visually? In terms of what Apple calls a Retina Display (equivalent to 20/20 Vision), for 20/20 Vision, 10.5 inches is the viewing distance where the eye can just resolve the individual iPhone 326 ppi pixels for people with standard 20/20 Vision. For 468 ppi, the 20/20 Vision pixel resolution distance is 7.4 inches — much closer than a typical viewing distance for a 4.7 inch display. Watching further away from the minimum viewing distance means the eye can’t resolve the pixels and so the high ppi is often wasted.

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But not always. The only place where [this]…level of sharpness is important is for computer generated text and graphics. Where 440 ppi [and above] will make a difference is when people are intently visually studying the display image for fine image details.

Coming from a design background — visuals are very important to me. What’s the point in putting shed loads of effort into a design if your client is unable to fully appreciate your work due to a low-res display. The HTC One kicks butt in this department, its the Bomb Diggity, The Daddy, The Don. If the HTC One could speak it would say “I’m Batman”.

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Jonny Polea

Editor in Chief at Beginners Tech

I joined Beginners Tech as a Technical Journalist in July 2012 and have never looked back. I love tech, gadgets, games and electronics; whether they are retro, current or future concepts. My loving fiancé Sarah has said that when I receive new items for review I’m like a kid in a toy shop – unable to leave it alone for two minutes! Coming from a design background, I am passionate about the design and aesthetics of tech as well as functionality.