Nokia explains its ClearBlack screen technology

Nokia has been known to do some very innovative things with their phones especially in creating new technology (see their flexible display).  So it's with great interest to see them explain their "ClearBlack" screen system to the masses--or at least attempt to.

For those who don't know, Nokia uses ClearBlack screens on a few of their phones, including the Lumia 710, 800 and 900 series. In simplest terms, it's a circular polarizer that sits between the GorillaGlass and LCD/AMOLED screen, resulting in glare-elimination, higher contrast and better readability due to the elimination of reflected light. It is similar to wearing polarizing sunglasses and that effect but is much more complicated.

In the post on Nokia Conversations, they explain the multiple layers in ClearBlack and what they do:

There’s both a linear polariser and retardation layers between the surface of your phone and the display. When light hits your screen, this is what happens:

  1. It hits the linear polariser, this vertically polarises the light. (Polarising means – roughly – aligning the wave vibration in a particular direction).
  2. Then it hits the circular polariser retardation layer. This converts the light again, making it right-circularly polarised
  3. Then it hits the screen and bounces off it, switching the rotation of the light to leftist.
  4. It goes back through the retardation layer. When this happens, the light becomes horizontally polarised.
  5. Finally, it hits the linear polariser, since the light is horizontally polarised at this point it can be blocked entirely by this optical solution.

We almost wrapped our head around that explanation. It's certainly complex and from our usage, we really like the result--seriously, go check out the Lumia 710 at your local T-Mo store to get an idea.  Anyways, it's great to see such unique and proprietary technology coming to Windows Phones.

Source: Nokia Conversations; Thanks, Residing, for the heads up

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • I've seen the Lumia 800 and the screen is indeed breathtaking. Nice to read the story behind this screen technology. Nokia is doing a great job here! :-)
  • so the light is | going in, - bouncing back and the filter only allows | to go through, right?
    so i guess the actual LCD layer does not go through the layer that orients the light horizontally ( - ) so it comes out straight ( | ) and thus passes through the filter?
  • PC Pro a UK mag reviewed the Nokia amongst other phones and actually marked it down because it was not as bright as the others. What they failed to realise is that the Nokia does not need to be bright to combat Sunny conditions. They also marked it down on battery but I will give them that one ;)
  • thats cool , panasonic started usning something like this on their *plasma*tv's  like 3 years ago...  VERY COOL!!!  specially if your always in the light.
  • Sweet. One can only imagine what their tablets running Windows 8 will look like with this kind of technology.
    2012 will be a great year. Lumia 900 / Windows 8 tablet all from Nokia 4 me.
  • I have this on my 710.. Its hard to go back to my hd7 screen..
  • I love the ClearBlack display on my L800 but one, its pentile. The whites aren't as 'white' as it should be. With that said though, the blacks are amazing in this phone. I love how it blends directly in the screen itself when black is displayed.
  • I was wondering about this. I currently have the samsung focus s which has a super AMOLED plus display. And when comparing it to the focus flash (super AMOLED display), the screen blows it out of the water. With the focus flash, you can pretty much see the pixels on the pentile screen. But with the focus s, its nearly impossible. The best way to get an understanding for it is through the calender app. When you're in the "day" view, there are basically just white lines on a black background. I wish I had pictures to show, but when you put the two side by side, the focus s is clearly better.
    Anyways, has anyone noticed this with nokia's lumia series? I am anxiously awaiting the 900's arrival and would like to know how good the 800 and 710's screens are.
  • Guys  I got my Lumia 710 yesterday and I can tell you its simply amazing... Wow ! Couldn't believe the colors and the crisp of the screen. go Nokia ! :D 
  • None of the specs I've read for the Lumia 710 lists Clear Black display (the specs for Lumia 800 and 900 do indeed list it). For example Wikipedia is one source but I have seen many more.
  • all of them do and even on my retail box it says clearblack.
    heres a link :
    " Corning Gorilla Glass   - Nokia ClearBlack display"