AMOLED vs LCD – Can the Naked Eye Tell the Difference?


As Samsung struggles to churn out AMOLED displays for partners such as HTC – who were struggling to ship phones like the Desire, Nexus One, and the Droid Incredible due to the shortages – everyone’s turned their heads toward Super LCD. Much noise has been made that there really is no difference between the two, but Engadget puts that to the test in their side-by-side analysis of two devices – a pair of HTC Desires – only different in their display type. (the older AMOLED-equipped model versus the newer one with Super LCD.)

amoled vs lcd pixels

A summation of their extensive look: AMOLED produces more vibrant and richer colors while SLCD creates a sharper picture and a warmer tone. Under sunlight, the SLCD didn’t perform any better than AMOLED did (which is notorious for poor performance under intense lighting) – it was actually a step worse. They’re chalking this up to the display being covered by whatever glass HTC’s using to protect it as they noticed the same characteristics on the LCD-equipped HTC Hero.

htc desire amoled vs lcd

Still, it sounds like if you’re not actually looking for a difference, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one, at first glance. Head on over to Engadget for their full look at the two displays running beneath the same type of glass and come up with your own conclusion.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. i think the AMOLED screen looks a little better, plus Engadget said they got longer battery life out of the AMOLED device.. I mean HTC is clearly lying to consumers about this, if the SLCD was better then wouldn’t that have been their first choice?

  2. I think its kind of pointless. I mean who is looking that close with naked eye, or even trying to find something to be bothered about. most people won’t even know. something that detailed won’t be noticed off purchase. if you point it out then that’s all the consumer is going to be looking for when they probably never noticed before.

    they have their benefits on direct sunlight

  3. what i want to know is since the iphone 4 uses the SLCD then how come the Desire using it doesn’t look anywhere as crisp? What else is the iphone 4 doing?

  4. I disagree. There are many times when I see the pixelation with with amoled, although I tend to hold my hold about 6 – 12 inches away from my face. The difference becomes most noticeable when trying to read small text on webpages, and it’s also really noticeable when viewing large sections of solid bright colors– the Rovio screen for Angry Birds for example.

    To be honest, I’m glad HTC is switching over to SLCD for a lot of their devices. I’ll take clarity over color saturation any day because I won’t notice how good the color is until I see it side by side next to another device.

    As for battery life, it does depend on the situation, however, I do think amoled should triumph over most cases here…unless all you’re looking at is bright white webpages for 4 hours.

  5. Amoled has better viewing angle than SLCD.

  6. Clarity’s important to me because I like text to be as small as possible, whenever possible. But I find my AMOLED Desire fine. That said, other than battery considerations I’m not really bothered.

    Like Kelvin says, colours don’t make much difference unless you hold two phones together. The contrast is all that will matter when you’re talking about a single handset.

    And while the performance under light is a little annoying, I’ve just got my phone to automatically reset to auto-brightness every morning so I’m not stuck when i get outside. I hear that the high-end Martin Fields screen protectors are great for mitigating the effect so may get a pack at some point.

  7. @elijahblake the iphone4 has the highest resolution per inch of any phone on the market by far

  8. @elijahblake iPhone is just squeeze more pixels into a same sized LCD.
    Same as comparing a 32″ HD Ready vs a 32″ HDTV

  9. @ap1285

    Dude its a cell phone who the hell really cares about the better viewing angle, how many retards do you see looking at heir cell phones from the side, i mean really just cause the company that makes the the screen says thats a plus doesn’t mean it really does anything for you

    FFC’s aren’t gimmicks the ability to look at ur phone sideways is a gimmick lol

  10. I’ll still give AMOLED a + for having more vibrant (some call it over saturated, whatever) colors and yet save on battery life.

  11. @TheSherman

    yea iphone 4 has nice resolution but the screen size being smaller than the current norm is a negative, it wouldn’t look nowhere near as good on a 4.3 in screen would it

  12. @Kag

    samsung said it saves on battery life but all the phones with amoled and super amoled screens had the worst battery life out of all the other android phones, amoled screen phones were at the very bottom while super amoled screen phones were in the middle (closer to bottom) if you dont believe me there is a chart out there somewhere lol

  13. lol by the way dont you know its an optical illusion to put to of the same pictures side by side, the line in the middle will always make one side look far darker than it really is

  14. Would the change to sLCD improve the device’s ability to be scanned by other barcode readers?

    I travel a reasonable amount and use mobile boarding pass whenever possible. Although I’ve never had my amoled-equipped-d-INC not-scan, it always takes a few seconds more than my lcd toting colleagues. Additionally, I’ve had relatively low success trying to get scanners to pick up on frequent shopper card barcodes on my device at the grocery store, but I don’t care as much about that.

  15. I can absolutely tell the difference.

    AMOLEDs have oversaturated and inaccurate color, but it’s brighter and supposedly uses less battery, though every phone using it seems to suck at battery life.

    The biggest issue for me is the resolution issues with texts. everyone talks about how sharp and clear it is, but I completely disagree. I can see weird artifacts everywhere at sharp transitions, as seen here. http://www.mobiletechworld.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Super-AMOLED-vs-Retina-Display-3.jpg I can’t stand it.

  16. man this makes me feel better about the G2. look at how much clearer text is. ha screw amoled SLCD is tha shit.

  17. Honestly, I freak out when I see adults use “lol”…..Wait, you are adults here?

  18. You’re not going to see the difference between an SAMOLED screen and an SLCD screen by displaying a screenshot comparison on your LCD computer monitor. Anyone trying to use such a distorted method to judge is doing themselves a disservice. Go see it in-person.

    The main difference is CONTRAST and the vividness of the colors.

  19. @Shiney McShine
    “We only grow old when we stop playing”
    -Benjamin Franklin

  20. Yes, I’m an adult.

  21. LOL

  22. This whole debate is laughable, because it reminds me of this:


  23. @ Matt those are clearly different pics cant even compare them look at the e’s in both different shape.

  24. The AMOLED was supposed to be mre energy efficient for battery life, so far on the Epic, that is NOT the case, the battery life stinks and some say you need to adjust the brightness to dim to conserve battery life!!! Why have an AMOLED screen then!!!

  25. @Scott no the main difference is how crisp the picture is. the droid lcd is way more crisp than the amoled screen in the nexus/desire. its not even a SLCD, so yes judging by these pics the SLCD is the clear winner. i have the nexus one and can tell this to be true.

  26. Well, the obvious difference is one degree and a few clouds, according to the weather widget.

  27. This is all fine and dandy, but why is it none of these manufacturers can put together a screen that exceeds the iphone 4? I’m amazed by how Apple consistently has the best screen of any phone, not to mention the best multi-touch.

    And no, I’m not a fanboy – in fact I don’t own any Apple products and am the owner of three Android based phones.

  28. @the first comment, I think that the super A screen is more of a name then it is great and so this has pushed sells for such devices…could be wrong but I think not. I think someone needs to come up with a better screen resolution like Apple has. And I am sure someone will

  29. look at it this way the iphone 4 has a great screen because thats the only phone they are releasing for awhile so they have to go all out somewhat, but htc and everybody else rather make they phone specs better minus a super screen, which would u rather have? alright then shut the hell up lmfao

  30. Most reviewers see surprisingly little difference in the two display types. This fantastic and cheap phone is about so much more than just the display…

  31. Go to any white-on-black screen, such as the Settings menu, and the AMOLED one will stand out pretty clearly.

  32. The SLCD does look better, but the AMOLED battery life is hard to ignore. They said in their tests when the SLCD phone was dead the AMOLED phone still had 30% power. That is a huge difference. Hell I’m still on a G1 so either one should look better so I personally would opt for better battery life.

  33. I think they got their screenshots backwards. I’ve had both Droid Incredible screens, my first a AMOLED, my recent replacement the SLCD. The AMOLED was much sharper, pixels are visible on the SLCD. The SLCD looks brighter in sunlight.

    I like the AMOLED better.

  34. A better viewing angle is a negative in my book. I don’t want some nosy fool being able to clearly see my screen from the side.

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