4K UHD smartphone displays - Pointless or drool-worthy?

D13H4RD2L1V3

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So, the upcoming Sony XPERIA Z5 will have 3 variants; the Compact, the normal version and the larger Premium version. The Compact has a 720p display, the normal variant has a 1080p display but the big headline is that the Premium just might be the world's first smartphone to boast a 4K UHD display. That's 3840x2160, or roughly 8294400 all squeezed into one 5.5-inch panel. By comparison, 2K is roughly 3686400 pixels.

So, that's a whole lotta pixels. But does it make sense?

NO

I'm pretty serious about this. Most 2015 flagships have 2K displays, and even those are overkill as we know 1080p displays are already extremely detailed, and 2K only gives a marginal increase in detail. It's only very slightly more prevalent on a phone over 5.5-inches in screen size, but on a smaller phone like a Galaxy S6, it's pointless. The same goes for 4K on a small display. 4K really makes more sense on a large display such as a computer monitor over 20-inches in size or on a large TV over 65-inches in size. Putting it on a phone makes even less of a difference than even 2K compared to 1080p on a screen that's the same size. Also, note that a higher resolution means more pixels to drive, which puts extra strain on the hardware, which also means less battery life.

Given that current phones with 1440p displays generally struggle to get 2 day's worth of use, with some even struggling to make it past a day, 4K screens will make that longevity worse, meaning that an extra battery or a power bank is an absolute MUST unless your phone has a large capacity battery above 4000mAh, which can alleviate part of the battery concerns on 4K.

So, if 4K brings very little benefit but at a higher cost, then why are manufacturers pushing for it? Bragging rights and VR. 4K brings the most benefit to VR as you'll be very close to it and a higher resolution means you'll see way more detail in VR content. Unfortunately, VR is still very much a niche at this point and honestly, I hope we get a battery breakthrough sooner rather than later, or people carrying a large power bank or hoarding wall outlets are going to be an even more common sight on our streets.
 

BriniaSona

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Right now even 2k is pointless, there's no programs on tv, no anime, no games unless you have a 980ti or titan gtx. So what good does 4k do.

Android has always been about out specing the other guy, and 4k in a sony phone is thier way of telling the others they are better.
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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Right now even 2k is pointless, there's no programs on tv, no anime, no games unless you have a 980ti or titan gtx. So what good does 4k do.

Android has always been about out specing the other guy, and 4k in a sony phone is thier way of telling the others they are better.

Very true. It's sad that they're sacrificing the user-experience for the spec sheet.

That's partly why I still like Apple's approach of favoring the UX over raw specs.
 

LeoRex

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There's really one and only one functional need for these displays that I can think of... VR functionality. Slap even a QHD phone into one of those VR headsets and you see pixels.

Granted, this is a very limited use case... it's not like everyone is demanding better video resolution in Google Cardboard, but it is what it is.
 

dpham00

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It is going to depend on the efficiency of the panel and the system as a whole. For example, my old note 4 got about 10% less straight SOT than my old iphone 6 plus which was 1080p. Of course the iPhone did much better in idle.

At the same time the note 4 and nexus 6 had the same cpu, gpu, baseband processor, and same QHD resolution. Yet the note 4 got way better battery life. Presumably because of a much more efficient display.

Sent from my Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note 5
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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It is going to depend on the efficiency of the panel and the system as a whole. For example, my old note 4 got about 10% less straight SOT than my old iphone 6 plus which was 1080p. Of course the iPhone did much better in idle.

At the same time the note 4 and nexus 6 had the same cpu, gpu, baseband processor, and same QHD resolution. Yet the note 4 got way better battery life. Presumably because of a much more efficient display.

Sent from my Verizon Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Take it with a grain of salt, but the Z3+ wasn't a battery champ.

The Z5 will likely use a Snapdragon 810 and a battery around the 3000mah mark or larger. That alone plus 4K doesn't scream "all day battery"
 

mohit9206

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Let alone 4K,nobody asked for 1440p displays on a phone either yet millions of people are buying it anyways because why not? Same goes for 4K mobile display, nobody asked for it but when it comes out people are going to buy it anyways because why not?
 

Carrtman

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The thing with 4k is its going to be the next standard. Prices for 4k monitors are dropping fast and NVidia's next gpu generation will push 4k without breaking a sweat.

So why is this important? Because having your phone and desktop pushing the same resolution makes work a lot easier especially for professionals.

I couldn't care less about battery just buy a phone with a removable one and have 1 or 2 spare batteries ready at all times. That being said I don't think the sd 810 is powerful enough to run that resolution flawlessly but man I would love to see Sony beating Samsung at their own spec game, would serve the wannabe fruit and **** on loyal customers traitors well.

tldr: it's going to come and it might be the next big revolution after FHD
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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The Z5 Premium is official, and yep. It has a 4K display.

Meh. I'm fine with 2K, really.

Maybe when we get batteries with an absurd amount of capacity, I'll consider one, but for now, even 1440p is overkill.
 

LeoRex

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Well... I'd say that QHD is bordering on overkill on anything in the 5.2 range. Once you are in the mid 400's for PPI, you are usually in great shape. 5.5 and above, ok... the bump to QHD is nice.

To then go all the way up to 4K? Well, that is stilly. That new Sony has a PPI of like 806. I am sure it'll look fantastic.

Didn't Sony recently go on a rant about how anything above 1080P is a waste of power... YES!

"At the moment, making the move to 2K technology on 5 to 5.5-inch screens does not seem able to achieve market segmentation, so we have no plans to launch 2K phones." - Jonathan Lin, general manager of Sony Mobile's Taiwan branch

I guess he didn't lie. No plans to launch 2K phones.... but 4K? Here it comes!
 

JnEricsonx

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I have a freaking NOTE 2 and people at my job have marveled how good the image looks. On a phone, past a certain point I think its pointless, maybe a bit more on a tablet cause of the size, but still.
 

mohit9206

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I currently own a phone with a 4.3 inch qHD display ie. 960*540 with a ppi of 256.
Now i struggle to see any individual pixels that people say you can see on lower resolution phones.
Maybe my eyes aren't very sharp or healthy but i swear my display looks fine to me.
I just don't understand all these people obsessed with 1440p displays and complaining when a hi end phone comes out with "only" 1080p display.
I don't know maybe people get spoiled by a super high resolution display and can't go back to a lower resolution one.
Of course 1080p and 1440p displays would look sharper than a qHD one but that doesn't make lower resolution displays suddenly look rubbish.
I actually see little advantage in having display resolution greater than 720p. Go upto 1080p, maybe you will see a slightly sharper display but worse battery life, go upto 1440p and a very slight chance you will be able to determine any difference between it and 1080p display but what you will without a doubt see is even worse battery life.
After 720p,you have extremely diminishing returns in clarity but significant reduction in battery life.
A phone running 1440p display like Galaxy S6, G3,G4,Note 5,etc would probably give nearly twice the battery life if the displays were instead 720p.
You would be super happy with the battery life but most probably the display will still look good enough.
Which brings me to the 4K display of Z5 Premium. It says in its specs "upto 2 days battery life on stamina mode".
If it instead had a 1080p display it would probably say "upto 4 days battery life on stamina mode" and if it had 720p it would say "upto 6 days battery life in stamina mode".
Now you guys tell me which one would you prefer?
2 day battery life and 4k display?
4 day battery life and 1080p display?
6 day battery life and 720p display?
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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I currently own a phone with a 4.3 inch qHD display ie. 960*540 with a ppi of 256.
Now i struggle to see any individual pixels that people say you can see on lower resolution phones.
Maybe my eyes aren't very sharp or healthy but i swear my display looks fine to me.
I just don't understand all these people obsessed with 1440p displays and complaining when a hi end phone comes out with "only" 1080p display.
I don't know maybe people get spoiled by a super high resolution display and can't go back to a lower resolution one.
Of course 1080p and 1440p displays would look sharper than a qHD one but that doesn't make lower resolution displays suddenly look rubbish.
I actually see little advantage in having display resolution greater than 720p. Go upto 1080p, maybe you will see a slightly sharper display but worse battery life, go upto 1440p and a very slight chance you will be able to determine any difference between it and 1080p display but what you will without a doubt see is even worse battery life.
After 720p,you have extremely diminishing returns in clarity but significant reduction in battery life.
A phone running 1440p display like Galaxy S6, G3,G4,Note 5,etc would probably give nearly twice the battery life if the displays were instead 720p.
You would be super happy with the battery life but most probably the display will still look good enough.
Which brings me to the 4K display of Z5 Premium. It says in its specs "upto 2 days battery life on stamina mode".
If it instead had a 1080p display it would probably say "upto 4 days battery life on stamina mode" and if it had 720p it would say "upto 6 days battery life in stamina mode".
Now you guys tell me which one would you prefer?
2 day battery life and 4k display?
4 day battery life and 1080p display?
6 day battery life and 720p display?

4 day battery life + 1080p.

But note what they said. They said "Up to 2 days"

Meaning it won't last 2 days under normal use. That's just how it's going to last at the max.
 

Carrtman

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4k and 2 day battery life x3 meaning removable battery

I have 3 ones on my Note 4 and can go a week without charging and all that with a stunning qhd screen.
 

HaboobZ

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I'm on-board with the idea that they need to halt production of faster, brighter, clearer for a while until they can produce a battery that can last longer without taking up more space.

Surely it's possible, they're making everything else smaller yet more powerful, why neglect the life-source of the device(s)?
 

anon(9072051)

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I'd be all for a 4K display on a smartphone as long as...

1) I could still count on 24 hours of battery life and at least 4 hours SOT
2) Display size was between 5.5" and 6" (preferably closer to 6")
3) Brightness of the display was on par with that on this year's crop of Samsung flagships
4) Price of the phone with 32Gb of storage was at most at or very close to 1 grand
5) Front-facing stereo speakers came with the package

From what I've seen, brightness is where the Z5 Premium may fall short. 500 nits doesn't sound like it'll cut it in bright sunlight, 4K or no.
 

navYgor

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Those screens are pointless: the human eye resolution is limited, and the data size of the pictures will become so big that the media production will become realy difficult (bus speed problem for animations, data transfer rate for movies, data size in memory for pictures, ...)
Just as a reminder: there is still no content available for the 4K televisions, and there is no carrier capable today to deliver such content live.

navYgor
 

MDMcAtee

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Those screens are pointless: the human eye resolution is limited, and the data size of the pictures will become so big that the media production will become realy difficult (bus speed problem for animations, data transfer rate for movies, data size in memory for pictures, ...)
Just as a reminder: there is still no content available for the 4K televisions, and there is no carrier capable today to deliver such content live.

navYgor

Bull...

Steve Jobs has been proven time after time to be wrong in his assumptions and the 4k revolution is about to begin.

You can't see a difference because you aren't looking. That's right... You aren't looking at individual pieces of the pictures your gazing at the whole.

4k is about the details and there will always be more details in a 4k picture.

VR is just part of this, but a very large part.. Being able to zoom in and have the clarity and depth of field has been the bain of most displayed objects on a smartphone and 4k resolution improves this significantly.

I ask this to those who oppose having it... WHY...

Technology has to push us forward and improvements in the displays are a large part of this.

Is 4k worth it.. Absolutely it is, but without improvements to the software and the hardware to support it, it isn't...but it is a start, no not a start but a continuation of the forward progression of technology.

Just because you can't see the trees because of the forest getting in the way doesn't mean that the technology is useless and not needed.

Posted from my AT&T 64 gig black Galaxy Note 5
 

navYgor

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Bull...

Steve Jobs has been proven time after time to be wrong in his assumptions and the 4k revolution is about to begin.

You can't see a difference because you aren't looking. That's right... You aren't looking at individual pieces of the pictures your gazing at the whole.

4k is about the details and there will always be more details in a 4k picture.

VR is just part of this, but a very large part.. Being able to zoom in and have the clarity and depth of field has been the bain of most displayed objects on a smartphone and 4k resolution improves this significantly.

I ask this to those who oppose having it... WHY...

Technology has to push us forward and improvements in the displays are a large part of this.

Is 4k worth it.. Absolutely it is, but without improvements to the software and the hardware to support it, it isn't...but it is a start, no not a start but a continuation of the forward progression of technology.

Just because you can't see the trees because of the forest getting in the way doesn't mean that the technology is useless and not needed.

Posted from my AT&T 64 gig black Galaxy Note 5
I would not say I'm opposed to it, It's more that I think the public is not ready for it. It's a great idea to make it as far as possible in laboratories, or for museums or special events, but the public is not sensitive anymore to that headlong rush. It's like the megapixels in the picture cameras, the manufacturers are going back now, simply because the public does not need pictures as detailed as what they offer, and is not capable to stere it. I'm not talking about the 1-5% techno geeks like us, but the real public that will buy the devices.
Of course, I can be wrong.
Just for information, I'm not against technology advancement: I'm head of R&D in my company.

navYgor
 

anon(9072051)

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I'm not talking about the 1-5% techno geeks like us, but the real public that will buy the devices.

I think the general "real" public is beginning to feel the allure of 4K tech, too. Maybe not so much re. smartphones but most definitely as an option for televisions. QVC, for example, was doing a hard sell of two LG 4K TVs all Labor Day weekend, a 55" and a 65" version. Best Buy also has quite a collection of 4K TVs in stock, and a number of them are actually fairly "affordable," especially for folks with a BB credit card and a decent amount of available credit.

Granted, none of that means that there'll be a hue and cry for 4K displays on phones anytime soon, but I wouldn't be surprised to see an increasing amount of hype directed at 4K televisions this Xmas shopping season.
 

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