Vector 40: The future of screen size and display density

Vector is Mobile Nations' cross-site, cross-platform analysis show tackling the biggest stories and issues in tech. On this week's episode Marc Edwards of Bjango talks to Rene about screen sizes and display densities, the different implementations choices made by the different platforms, the road to 1080p and @2x, the advent of 2K, the possibility of @4x, and the question — how big and dense to phones really need to get? Subscribe and listen along!

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie has been covering the personal technology industry for almost a decade. Editorial Director at Mobile Nations, analyst at iMore, video and podcast host, you can follow him @reneritchie on Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter.

  • Bring it on!
    I've seen the advantage of 768p over 480p.. 1080p over 768p, and I'm waiting for a 6"+ 2k screen on my next "1520".... I'm sure a 2k Lumia will look much better on my next phablet.
    And, as far as WP devices go... The question "how big, and dense, do devices really need to be?"" As big, and dense, as we want them.. We don't want people setting limits on what we can buy. We don't want people telling us what we can't see with the naked eye. And, we don't want to be told that a 6.5" screen is too big.. Let us choose for ourselves what a high end device should be.. If we want octa core devices then let us have them.... And, if you don't want any of this, think that its not necessary, or feel that it's not resource efficient, then don't buy it❗ ... But, let us have our fun❗ Lol❕❕❕❕
  • 1520 already looks amazing. A 2K 15(something) will no doubt blow eyeballs out the backs of heads.
  • Exactly.. The 1520 does have a beautiful screen.. But, looking at my screen, at times, I can see dull edges, and pixilation.. Not to the point where it's bad, lol- no, not bad at all, but we can always improve... It's not like a 550hp ZO6 is "lacking", but we have to progress, and the new model will surpass the ZR1 in performance... As humans that's just what we do, and I embrace it,, instead of being closed minded.
  • I haven't listened to the podcast yet, so I'm not sure what was discussed, but 1080p is already "2K" resolution.  You aren't going to see an improvement going from 1080p to 2K because they are the same thing.    Personally, I think resolutions over 720p/768 on most phone screens are pointless and I don't see any reason to go past 1080p on any phone screen (even phablets).  The human eye can't even resolve that level of detail so adding more pixels is just wasting processing power, battery, and money in an attempt to run up the specs for consumers that don't know any better.
  • I disagree.. And, you can see individual pixels even on a 1080p screen.. The sharpness on the 1520 can be improved on...
    By people like you,,, the same was said about 480p.. The same was said about 720p. Now, once again you say the same about 1080p....
    Well, having a Samsung Focus, a 920, and a 1520,, I can say that I see a huge difference in the quality of each screen... But, according to you this is where it stops? 50 years from now we should all still be stuck on 1080p?...
    IDK, sounds kinda closed minded to me... No, I'm not gonna fall for it. I'd rather "see for myself", because my eyes haven't failed me yet❗❗ lol!!!
    ............. Instead of saying "the human eye can't resolve that level of detail" you should be saying "my own eyes, personally, can't resolve that level of detail... Then I would agree with you in the fact that YOU shouldn't waist your money... And, I'm not trying to be funny, or rude, so sorry if I come off like a jerk.. I just hate being told what I do or don't need.. But, it's all good, my friend :-):-)
  • I think they're is a certain level of progression inherent from a technology perspective and a large percentage of what is next is directly related to things being cheaper and better. So there is a certain level of doing it because we can and for bragging rights. Evolutionarily speaking, I'm interested to see what new technology is derived from the limitations of the current. Whether that is density, cost, power consumption..... More or derivatives of the same might just be filling the gaps of a portfolio, and that's not a bad thing it's just not the"breakout" thing in looking for. I think if ever there were two companies poised to come up with a breakout technology it is definitely Microsoft and Nokia.
  • Yeah, that was my point back when WP only had 768p... I always said that even if Android devices 1080p screens didn't have a significant benefit that doesn't mean that Microkia/Lumia devices wouldn't take advantage of better screen resolutions.. I always knew that if a Lumia device had a 1080p screen then it would most likely have the best viewing angles, color representation, and power consumption.. That's why I look forward to even higher resolution screens on Lumia devices.. It's just because Microkia doesn't add technology just to add it, rather they make sure that it functions well, if not great, with some kind of user benefit... Keeping up with the competition is a given, and that's just business, so we can expect that.. But most of us expect more from WP, and thats why we're here... I guess my point about 1080p, 2k, or 4k isn't about the normal argument of if its necessary, or has real world benefits, but what will MS do with the technology.. To me there's a difference here... All screens are different, so I really don't understand how someone can say a 2k screen is worthless.. That's too general of a statement to me..
  • I completely agree with everything. I'd even push the limits to 8K or something on a smartphone with size of 5 inch lol, but any higher than that would be insanity.. but the future will bring even more so whatever. I would be much more interested if there was more types of displays with more colors (that eyes can't see either haha, but I'm sure it would look better), maybe some 3D feel to it, and of course blacks and whites must be improved. + Even more insterested if there was some kind of new battery tech with more power in a smaller packet than just screens :D
  • I agree with the improvements of blacks and whites. I'm doing all I can do for improving whites. I'm assuming Rodney is hard at work holding up his end of the deal.
  • Lol!!!... No, I would never hope that whites improve.. They're already cold enough... It's blacks that are deep, and keep getting deeper. That's what we need.. Ask, your wife, NIST... I'm sure she'll agree that she would take deeper blacks any day.
  • Lol
  • Lol:-):-):-):-):-):-)
  • Fair enough, but just to be clear, I wasn't one of the people saying that 480p was "good enough" and for larger phone screens I agree that 1080p has benefits over 720p.  I do think we are approching the point where it doesn't make sense to keep adding pixels to every display out there.  I feel that mobile devices in general would benifit a lot more from extending their battery life vs even higher display resolution.
  • Understood.. Good..
    I agree, battery life is of highest priority, but its all about pushing the technological limits... Lets both agree that we should expect more... We need faster processors, better screen quality, and better cameras while achieving better efficiency, and performance at the same time.. That's proper engineering, and real technological advancement.. We should expect more!!..
    I'm a big automotive technology fan, so you can see where my attitude, and viewpoint comes from...
    Back in the 90's we had corvettes with 5.7ltr V8's rated at 300hp, and getting under 20MPG..
    Now, the new C7 Corvette has a 6.2ltr? V8 rated at over 450hp achieving up to 30MPG!.. That's technology right there, and that's awesome.. (I think I just spooged in my pants BTW))... To me smartphones, and sports cars are very similar in that way, and its cool to see engineering keep pushing the limits, especially when we think that we've hit the limit... As dumb as humans can be, at times, we are some amazing creatures;-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-);-)
  • Here's a Corvette for you Rodney ;)
    It's uses even less than C7... :)
  • Wow!!.. I love old bikes like that.. I've never seen that one before.. That thing looks awesome.. Personally, I'd like to ad that to my collection.. Thanks❕❕❕❕
  • And let's not forget about faster refresh time :)
  • Agreed.  There are a lot of disadvantages to increasing the display resolution beyond a certain point.  Here are some more...   Increased network bandwidth when streaming media at the full screen resolution.  High quality 1080p can already saturate 802.11n which is used in most phones.  High quality 4K could use up most of a cutting edge 802.11ac network.   Increased storage usage.  4K uses 4 times the space of a 1080p video at equal quality settings.   Increased graphics processor utilization.  The final quality of 4K output in a rendered game might actually be quite a bit less impressive than 1080p if the graphics/lighting/textures have to be turned down just so the GPU can crank out more raw pixels.  That is a major trade off if the resolution is already high enough that most people can't even see those extra pixels.   Increased cost of hardware (both screen and SOC).   There are a lot of cons and little or no benefits to going beyond 1080p on a ~5" screen.  Maybe the industry can go there some day when there is nothing better to do.  However, right now it should be at the bottom of the list.  When we get to a point were we all have phones with network bandwidth to waste, cellular bandwidth to waste, battery power that lasts for several days, more storage than we can reasonably fill, crazy fast/effecient processors and graphics, then sure, why not go 4K just for the hell of it.  Until then, it's a waste of precious resources on devices that are very resource constrained.    
  • This is very well said. Couldn't agree more in real world usage. I'd rather see better amazing graphics and fps than a processor/gpu struggling on a 4K screen without much detail + heating. At least in this time matter. Even if a processor/gpu supports such resolution well, It would work so much better on a 1080p with smoothness as a melting butter. This in my opition is a winning combination for now.
  • If MS makes a Lumia phone at 4k don't you have faith that it will perform great? Why wouldn't you?
    Not saying that they should go 4k yet, but from my experience using WP I believe in what Nokia, and MS, are capable of achieving... Why are some of you not?
  • Hah I'm sure it would work :) It sure is time to move on anyways
  • That's true.. But, if innovators, engineers, corporations, designers, dreamers, and consumers had that negative, can't do, glass half empty, point of view you just displayed,,,,, We would have smartphones right now...
    No people.. No, we can't allow ourselves to think this way... That's not going to cut it, and that kind of thinking isn't going to push the Lumia brand anywhere... Those are obstacles, and we can overcome obstacles, but not by having small insight into what can be achieved...
    Basically, the way you are talking sounds just like what SOME people were saying back in the 90's when others suggested that we put the internet in everyone's pockets... I'm sure some people named how it would stress dial up, and make home computers surf even slower.. Some said that a battery would only possibly last for less than 30min. Some said that AOL would be outraged for whatever reason... Lol! Besides battery life those things aren't even relevant now..
    Whenever I see someone list cons, just as you did, it's kinda funny because it just makes me think back at what people in the past said wasn't yet feasible... I just don't see how some of you can allow yourselves to have that kind of mindset..
    I feel so luck that I'm not like that..
  • I'm talking for now and upcoming Snapdragon processors, maybe they will make it work smooth on 2K with all detail, maybe not, maybe yes with heating issues as always. But I agree we should go further in resolution for sure.
  • Yeah, they have their ways.. One day we'll look back and laugh at this conversation.
  • Actually, you raise a good point.. Now, at this point, where 1080p looks great, I would choose a screen with improved refresh times over more pixels... But, I want it all... We can have it all if we just tell MS that there's demand for it. It's up to us..
  • And come on, imagine running everything in like 120 fps on a phone :P
  • "Bigger. Better." Is the only reason to further the standards. I mean its nice and all but highly unnecessary in some extents. I mean really, you need a 2k display on your phone? The spec braggers will love it.
  • If I walk into a store, and see a new Lumia device with a 2k screen the first thing Im going to do is hold my 1520 up next to it to see the difference.. If there's no difference then that device better have other things to attract me to it.. If the new devices screen looks better than my current then that's a selling point right there.. Being that I'm a fan of technology I would have to admit that personal yes I need this feature on my new device... But, as cool as bragging rights are its for me to enjoy, and I want to make sure I have the best device for Rodney!!
  • But there will come a point when its pointless. My Surface 2 is razor sharp. Its absolutely does not need more than its current resolution. I don't even hanker for more on my L 920. I don't care for an arms race with Android ragers. It has to be fit for purpose.
    I'd much rather see better cameras, better audio quality, better buttons and bluetooth that universally works everywhere than more resolution on a screen. Really not exciting.
  • Your Suface2 is razor sharp???
    Lol!!... And, years from now you'll look back at that Surface2, hopefully you'll still have it, and say "wow, and I can't believe that I thought this screen looked razor sharp""... Lol!..
    When will you guys ever learn... SMH.
  • Technically 1080p is considered 2K horizontally because 1920 is pretty close to 2000 but even small changes (80*1080 or whatever it would be) is still significant.
  • Correct and 4K is only 3840 not actually 4000+.
  • 2k, 3k, or 4k... There's room to advance... Do you believe that MS will continue to add higher resolution screens, that have noticeable benifit, to Lumia devices? Is it necessary?
  • I'm lost.
  • It's a really geeky subject but we try to explain it a lot as we go along. :)
  • I see. Thanks.
  • A screen is similar to a cross stitch or a mosaic. The more pixels in the same space the more detail it has and the more natural it looks.
  • Bout time a podcast podcast out
  • I'd rather see an advancement in terms of battery capacity while making it thinner or smaller. That should be the focus right now.
  • It will require more power to switch the pixels on and off. It will require a more powerfull GPU to generate the pixels in the first place. It will drop the battery life based on a given battery capacity.
  • I guess I'll take the one on the left since she's still unmarried.
  • I see so all the guys go "the bigger the better", is your tool that small that you need to compensate by driving big cars and having big phones? Its like the morons taking pictures with their icraps. A bloody phone not a tablet. If you can't use it with one hand don't need it. Resolution wise. I have my 720 and I don't care. What do you all do that you must have over 1080? Its not drawing or graphic design since not a single WP has a stylus support as of now. Stupid
  • I have the icon and even at 5" I still fat finger the screen. Ironically this wasn't a problem on the HTC Arrive, which was only 3.5". The difference is that the keyboard gave a tactile response and was roughly the same size as the screen. I miss QWERTY sliders, but if you have to kill keyboards people with big hands need big phones or we can't type worth a crap. I would consider going to 6", but Verizon doesn't care those phones from nokia.
  • What do you care what other people want, and why they want it? How does it affect you?... Are you saying that my 1520 is not highly enjoyable, not necessary, and is stupid?
  • 10 years ago my girlfriend didn't understand why I spent the price of a small car on my Sony 50" HD tv
    Now my wife doesn't understand why I want to spend £4000 on a 4k tv
    The reasons are still the same but the woman is different. Go figure.
  • sir, u made my day.. :-)
  • That is too funny. I had the same issue with my wife this past fall when shopping for a new TV. I ended up spending $6200 but hot everything I had wanted. Now she turned to me last week while watching catching fire "hun" yea. "this looks really nice" No shot you say.
  • What?.. That's dumb. 6k for a TV?.. What do you need that for?... Nobody needs a TV over 40" and 1080p.. That's good enough.. BTW, who are you tryin compete with?
  • Why is it dumb? I'm not trying to compeat with anyone. I can spend my money on what I want. I like to spend it on tech, cars, bikes and going to F1 I own my own house, I don't have kids so what is wrong with it? I spend a % of my money i make every year on me and it is with that money that i buy stuff like this. 40" is not big enough in my view, I have an open plan kitchen/living room with 39" between one end to the the other If your not letting things slide in other areas then I think it is fine if you want to spend 6k on a tv, the one I'm looking at is in the link and the Sony was a lot more than that.  
  • Lol!!.. I was being sarcastic.. That's how some of these guys sound when we talk about features we want on new WP devices.
    I COMPLETELY agree with you❗
  • No it wasn't TV  surround sound system. I compete with no one. the TV that was removed from the house was bought in 1999 and was dying. my money I'll spend it anyway I see fit.
  • What is "@4x"  do you mean 4k?
  • They need to cater for wider screen sizes. My GF wants something LESS than 4 inches (no jokes please ;) ) She thinks she is going to drop her phone if its bigger than 3.7 and doesn't want a case ideally, so they shouldn't race to a large screen.