In South Korea, there's a never-ending war between Samsung and LG for display superiority. The latest salvo fired comes from the latter, which announced an astonishing new smartphone IPS-LCD panel yesterday. The 5.5-inch prototype screen uses a WQHD resolution of 2560x1440 (seen elsewhere on 27-inch monitors). The density is 538 pixels per inch, the highest of any mobile screen to date.


And the density isn't the only record that this screen sets. It's also the thinnest mobile screen in the world at 1.21mm, beating LG's own record of 2.2mm set just last month. They've managed to shrink the bezel as well, down to just 1.2mm. That's arguably a more important accomplishment considering the market shift towards larger and more unwieldy screens.

Is this kind of monster resolution practical in a smartphone? No. No way, no how. If anything, putting higher and higher resolutions into (relatively) small screens will only tax the limited resources of mobile processors and batteries, without any real benefit to the user. But things like sense and prudence are hardly relevant when it comes to a corporate arms race.

LG isn't saying when it plans to make production phones with this new generation of LCD panel. It will take time for the economies of scale to apply, and it's not as if the screens on today's smartphones are anything to sneeze at. But you can bet that this screen or something very much like it will appear in an LG flagship before too long, then make its way to LG's OEM partners. I'm betting we'll see 4K smartphone concepts at CES 2014... for better or worse.

Seoul, Korea (August 21, 2013) – LG Display [NYSE: LPL, KRX: 034220], a leading innovator of display technologies, announced today that it has developed the world’s first Quad HD AH-IPS LCD panel for smartphones. At 2560X1440 with 538ppi, the new 5.5-inch Quad HD panel is the highest resolution and ppi (pixel per inch) mobile panel to date, and provides a glimpse at what’s next after current Full HD smartphone panels, critical given the growing trend towards larger displays.

LG Display’s Quad HD panel for smartphones realizes clearer images with 4 times more pixels than HD at 1,280X720, thereby reproducing more delicate colors as well as improving contrast and vividness when compared to current mobile displays. This advancement will enable consumers to fully enjoy more life-like and crisp images, and even Blu-ray equivalent video, on their smartphones. The panel also features the highest ppi among current mobile device displays.

In addition, the new Quad HD panel will enable users to enjoy a full view of PC-version web pages at a single glance without image distortion; a contrast to current Full HD displays which only realize 3/4th of a full screen. Also, even when enlarging the screen, users will be able to enjoy undistorted and sharper text.

Only 1.21mm thin with a 1.2mm bezel measured in LCD modules (LCM), LG Display’s new Quad HD panel is both the world’s slimmest and narrowest panel, with 12% reduced thickness compared to the company’s 5.2-inch Full HD panel released last month. Based on Low Temperature Poly-Silicon (LTPS) substrate, the panel also realizes superior brightness of 430nit with improved transmittance and larger aperture opening size. 

LTPS-based smartphone displays are expected to record 765 million units in shipments next year according to research firm DisplaySearch, as displays with larger screens, higher resolution, and less power consumption prove key to competitiveness in the premium model segment.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Daniel DS

    In such a size it's just overkill. Gives people nothing more than a FHD screen except for worse battery life

    • Matthew Gardner

      Agreed, anything less than the 7-10 inch screen size and 1080p is more than enough.

      • Mike Harris

        I think you're being shortsighted. Using that logic, you probably would have said many years ago that 10MB HDDs were big enough.

        • Greyhame

          Nothing to do with that. If the human eye can't see the difference, what's the point? But I sure as heck could use more storage space. There's no business case for increasing PPI beyond what the human eye can see.

          • Mike Harris

            I completely disagree. The thought back in the day was exactly the same.

            Why develop larger storage capacity when we'll never be able to use all that space?

            Just because we can't see how this will be beneficial now doesn't mean it won't be in the future.

          • Greyhame

            I'll be looking forward to that when we get microchips and lenses embedded in our eyes.

          • Floss

            Except one is based off the laws of physics, and the other is based off someone talking out of their ass.

    • acey_zero

      Not true, in addition to reducing battery life, pushing all those pixels will also reduce performance and increase cost! It's a win-win!

    • Bleakvision

      If the 538ppi screen looks more pleasant than the current 300-450ppi ones I will buy it. It's as simple as that. (Stock Android required)

  • sri_tech

    Hopefully one day,

    "*** Shows Off new 720p display that consumes insanely small amount (10 to 20%) of power compared to current generation 720p displays"

    • Robert Alex Kibler

      That's what I'm hoping for. I'm hoping LG's ability to build these ridiculously high resolution screens means that they can make lower resolution devices much more efficient. I'm totally happy with a 720p 4.7 inch phone. At more than 300ppi, I can't see the individual pixels (I have bad eyes, so that might help), so I don't need anything higher than that unless my screen is bigger. I'd rather have a 720p phone that lasts 48 hours of screen on time than a 4K screen that lasts two hours.

    • Elias

      AFAIK most energy spent in a screen goes to backlighting, so unless they invent something more efficient than LEDs, we're not going to see economic screens anytime soon.

  • Stefan Constantinescu

    This screen makes a lot of sense when you consider that when the Nexus One came out, it was one of the first devices with a WVGA panel. That's now considered low end. The 720p panel in the GS3 was amazing in 2012, but not it's for midrange devices.

    While this is hard to believe, the 1080p phones of today will be nothing but toys in 24 months.

    • Matthew Gardner


      But the jump from the GS2's QHD to 720p gave a noticeable improvement, The jump from 720p to 1080p in small (around 5 inch and down) panels still showed an improvement of sorts, but less so. It's at the point where we are seeing diminishing returns on the amount of power that is being used on displays of this size.

    • http://mavi222.deviantart.com/gallery/ Mavi

      Why? I see no advantage in having more dense screens if you can't tell the difference with naked eye .. will you go around people with magnifying glass and brag how dense is your screen? I don't get it. There's no need even for the fullHD screen on small devices.

      • Александр Орлов

        It's true, that you won't see individual pixels after 300ppi, but that doesn't mean you won't see the difference.
        It's like playing at 24fps and 60fps. Sure you can't catch individual screens, but you will notice the difference.

        • andy_o

          It's not like that at all. If anything, it's more like the difference between 96 and 120Hz.

  • NathanDrago

    I hope they stop this ridiculous competition and start focusing on some much more urgent stuff.
    Like, making more efficient batteries, which carry a user through two (three? Ok, three) days of normal usage. But maybe this is asking too much, maybe it's just better to reach that 1000ppi asap.

    • PhoenixPath

      "I hope they stop this ridiculous competition and start focusing on some much more urgent stuff."

      They (being the folks involved in this display "competition") have nothing to do with battery tech and you sure as heck do *not* want them working on it. (unless you are into really neat-looking battery-level indicators)

      Samsung and LG do however, have partners or departments that work on battery tech and it is highly likely that they are actually working on stuff at this very moment, even.

      I get the whole battery frustration...but try and vent that frustration at the right folks. These guys have *nothing* to do with it. They're just doing their jobs.

      • Greyhame

        Aaaah, pretty sure he was referring to LG and other OEMs in general, not the exact same gurus that produced this [insanely unnecessary] screen tech.

        • PhoenixPath

          From the line I quoted, the implication is that they'd have to stop doing one thing to do another.


          Does it matter? Does anyone seriously think that they (whoever "they" are) have only one team or can concentrate on only one tech at a time?

          It's absurd to even consider it in such a way.

          Of course they are working on battery tech. They *can* actually focus on more than one thing at a time. Again; just because there is no headline doesn't mean it isn't being done.

          • Greyhame

            My point was to not take it to such a black and white extreme.. of course they're not mutually exclusive. There is, however, a finite amount of R&D dollars to spend. So the question becomes: is all that time and money worth spending on putting 500+ PPI onto a screen when the human eye cannot discern the difference? Here is where I agree with the OP: no, it's not.. spend it on something else.

          • PhoenixPath

            Well, everyone has an opinion....

            Mine is that they can actually do more than one thing at a time and be successful at them. (This would be the opposite of a black and white, "all or nothing" extreme...)

            "is all that time and money worth spending on putting 500+ PPI onto a screen when the human eye cannot discern the difference?"

            "no, it's not.."

            So you claim that any future benefit of this tech is worthless? Really?? It's only going to be used for 5.5" mobile phones...?

            The point was (and still is) quite simple: Their research into screens isn't affecting battery research in the least. There is more than one company doing this and a virtually endless supply of R&D going into both already. More or less to either one is not going to make a huge difference.

          • Greyhame

            A wise man once said, "Don't argue with PhoenixPath, he will out word you to death."

            I agreed they're not mutually exclusive, but you failed to see my counterpoint that there is a finite amount of dollars for R&D. Also, this tech on 5.5" is what makes it 500+ PPI (pixels per inch). This tech in a larger screen is totally worth it. So, no, I'm not claiming there are zero benefits. Only, why scale so small when the benefit is indiscernible to the human eye?

          • PhoenixPath

            "there is a finite amount of dollars for R&D"

            When that finite number is so grand a number that neither you nor I could count it in our lifetimes, it becomes like unto infinity. (in other words, there's enough for research into both that taking from one to add to another would have little beneficial effect on either)

            "So, no, I'm not claiming there are zero benefits."

            Then we agree. This tech could be worthwhile. See how easy that was?

            "Only, why scale so small when the benefit is indiscernible to the human eye?"

            This thing...I think...it is called....PR? :) (The tech may indeed be useful in other areas, but this specific use will generate headlines, as witnessed here today)

            "Don't argue with PhoenixPath, he will out word you to death."

            Oh come now; I've yet to have anyone die on me.... I think your'e safe... ;-)

          • Greyhame

            I rest my ca........ * keels over * ;)

          • PhoenixPath

            "* keels over *"

            You just *had* to go and be the first, didn't you?


          • Mike Harris

            Not to beat a dead horse, but @PhoenixPath:disqus is absolutely correct. The one thing I would argue is that it's not necessarily that the R&D money is infinite, but each of those departments is allocated their respective amounts. If a company like LG decided that your way of thinking was correct (in that they've reached a suitable goal and no longer need to make the mobile display technology "better"), LG doesn't turn around and simply pour the remainder of their mobile display R&D money into their battery R&D department. They may put that money into advertising, or save it until next year, or – most likely – add it to their bottom line.

            Also, keep in mind that no technological advancement is guaranteed. Just because time and money is spent on developing a better battery, that doesn't mean we'll definitely get anything better (though yeah, we probably will). Or, it may just take a lot longer for better battery technology to be developed. It's not like there's a simple blueprint they're following.

          • Greyhame

            I never said stop researching and developing screen tech. But no one has answered my question: Why invest all that time and money into something that is indiscernible to the human eye? (Anything over ~330 PPI) It would be better for everyone if they invested most of their screen research into improving efficiency and decreasing power draw. Then you're killing two birds with one stone. This is improving PPI simply for bragging rights with the side effect of eating even more battery. In my opinion, the point of diminishing returns has been reached in regards to PPI on a 5" screen.

            I'm not trying to argue how they should run their shop (although as a business decision it seems questionable, but hey, what do I know?). I'm simply asking why invest in something that isn't benefitting the end user?

          • Mike Harris

            The answer to your question is simple. Just because you don't see any value in this advancement doesn't mean it isn't there. It just means you're not thinking creatively enough to realize its purpose. (I don't mean that in a condescending manner. I'm just saying that you're not in the position to make that determination. Neither am I. If we were, we would be working in R&D, creating these things.) To quote myself from what I posted above:

            "...the application of some amazing technological breakthrough may not be applied until later on. And that doesn't make it a waste. Even if it's never used, the creativity that fueled that development is the same creativity that fuels all the other well-known advances."

          • Greyhame

            We're talking mobile displays, right??

          • Mike Harris

            In just this narrow discussion, yes. But that's kind of my point. This technological advancement is not limited to one area just because that was the initial focus. Maybe it can be used in a different field.

            Hey, maybe it can cure cancer. :P

          • Greyhame

            Point of diminishing returns.

        • NathanDrago

          Indeed :-)

      • icecoffemix

        They get funding from the executive which may what he's referring to.

    • jaduncan

      You should buy a Droid Maxx.

    • Mike Harris

      Your comment is similar to those I hear from people there's a report about some silly thing scientists have created (like turning poop into meat). They always say something like "I can't believe they're working on this when they haven't yet found the cure for cancer."

      I always wonder, do those people actually think the poop scientists are the same ones also looking for a cure for cancer? Do they think scientists are one monolithic group who can only work on one thing at a time? It just amazes me that so many people only view the world on a small scale. And if some new technology comes along, they always need an explanation of how it's going to be applied now. They don't seem to understand that the application of some amazing technological breakthrough may not be applied until later on. And that doesn't make it a waste. Even if it's never used, the creativity that fueled that development is the same creativity that fuels all the other well-known advances.

  • Alex

    This technology might be useful if it can be adapted to glasses-free 3D displays (where the horizontal resolution is typically halved), but I don't see the point for a regular display.

    • JLM

      Where there is a will there is a way. Somebody will find a purpose for these ultra resolution displays. Hopefully something that is useful to everyone not just a niche, like people with bionic eyes that can see at a higher resolution.

  • Thor Sigurdsson

    Very cool, it _does_ have it's place for those that like to consume media on their devices.

    Also, 4K isn't 2560x1440. 4K is 2560x1600.

    • kenjab

      Actually, 4K is 3840x2160. Which is overkill for a 23" monitor, let alone a smartphone.

      • Thor Sigurdsson

        Actually, you are right - I remembered wrong (4Mpix vs. 4mp-vertical which actually gives 8mpix or more...)

        Doesn't bring the author closer to correctness though ;) But I stand corrected.

      • William

        Actually, 4K is 4000x####, people just like to round up :P.

        • Thomas’

          No, not really. 4K is a well-defined term for 1080p times 2 in both directions.

          • William

            Dont confuse "well-defined" with widely used. Just because everyone calls it one thing does not make it fact.


            Weird how all of these are all "4k". That must be some definition!

          • Thomas’

            Hm, indeed.

            Also 4K is officially called "Ultra HD". Good to know.

          • Mike Harris

            If I remember correctly, Ultra HD is not an official name for 4K, but a marketing term coined by one of the big companies (Sony, I believe). 4K is the only name that's standard, though the other guys will likely coin their own terms as well... if they haven't already.

    • TopperCNC

      4K is 3840 x 2160

  • http://dabuxian.com/ Dabu

    I see one purpose of this actually, with such a huge PPI there will be no need for anti-aliasing eventually. I'm not sure though if x4 MSAA on 720p is less power consuming, than 1440p without MSAA. Probably yes.

    • icecoffemix

      Ah yes, aliasing on my angry bird is infuriating.


  • Sean Royce

    I'm all for technology, but as the other people in the comment section state, we need power efficiency first. I can only imagine a device this thin with 10x the battery life.

    • Basilbub

      While I don't disagree, that's not LG Display's charter.

      • Sean Royce

        What do you mean?

  • VoiceofSky

    Dat resolution :D

    • phatmanXXL [15,500+ posts]

      Dat Bezel :-/

      • Captain Spaulding

        I believe that it's mounted to a board for display purposes. I assume it would be much ore compact in a phone.

        • phatmanXXL [15,800+ posts]

          I know, joking

          • Captain Spaulding

            my bad ;)

  • Vasilis K.

    That PPI in 1920x1080 resolution would give an ideal screen size, less than 5" of nowadays phones. 5.5" is too big.

  • Quryous


    There is already a fine use for such ultra resolution, and it is and will be used no matter how high it goes.

    Inside the tiny eye pieces of camcorders and cameras and digital microscopes is a tiny screen, a fraction of an inch by a fraction of an inch.

    When seen through the magnifiers this type of screen is PERFECT for taking pictures and video. The higher the resolution the better.

    Consider, even if these tiny eye pieces were an inch square, the would only be 2560x1440 in a vision critical application, but they aren't, they are only a fraction of an inch by a fraction of an inch. More is better!


  • merman1983

    The higher the resolution gets the worse and worse my game emulators are going to look blown up.

    Also, thanks AP for cropping out the smiling (although perhaps very nice) lady and zooming in on the screen.

    • Jeremiah Rice

      The tendency of Asian companies to release every. Single. New. Product with a smiling female model is mildly creepy to me. I suppose it's really no different from the way western companies advertise on TV, but it makes me feel like a lecher for doing my job.

      • John Smith

        I don't think this one counts; for one I can't see her pretty large eyes :->

    • zedn

      If a higher resolution makes you games look worse, the emulators need to do a better job scaling.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo
    • Greyhame

      Best of luck at ArsTechnica! I thoroughly enjoyed your .apk tear downs and look forward to seeing what you can do when given the chance to work on Android full time.

      • Mike Harris

        My sentiments exactly, @Greyhame:disqus. We're really going to miss you around here, @ronamadeo:disqus.

  • GraveUypo

    all i want is a 4k 40" screen that runs 120hz.

    screw these tiny phone screens. those are already excelent as long as they're 300ppi and upwards.

  • ConCal

    Very cool, but unconvinced it is necessary given its battery and processing demands.

  • mgamerz

    Idk, I could go with a transparent screen in the image provided...

  • John Smith

    Next step is 120Hz and 3D :-)

  • Matthew Fry

    And yet laptops and desktop screens still sit in the 80-250 PPI range. Come on guys. Enough is enough with the 5" pixel density wars. My 5" phone has a better resolution than my 14" laptop. This is bizarre. (I understand why, but that doesn't change the fact that it's bizarre)

  • Michael Fontenot

    Nexus 5 anyone?

    • Ark

      Now with 3 hour battery life!

  • Ark

    No, thanks. I need around 300ppi max, more makes no difference and eats through the battery like a fat dude through cheetos.

  • Mike

    Has Oculus found their new screen!

  • kev2684

    meanwhile my laptop... 15" 1280x720 display lmao

  • HopelesslyFaithful