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.