Samsung Galaxy S2 Forum

General qHD (960x540) vs. WVGA (800 x 480) - IMPORTANT!?

Hello guys,

everyone complains about the display resolution of the Samsung Galaxy S2 compared with a qHD display but as a rookie Android user and a rookie Smartphone gamer I don't know what kind of advantages we will miss if we should buy a SGS2 with a WVGA display compared with a qHD display?????

Can somebody explain me first of all where a screen resolution is for???

And second, as a rookie smartphone user I just only know that both phones like Samsung Galaxy S2 and the HTC Sensation has got a 4.3 inch display but their resolutions are different and I'm asking myself in which case and situation can a higer resolution be important and interesting?

Please give me some tips about it... Is a higer resolution better for playing games or not? I'd like to know everything about a higer resolution...

And is it true that a lower resolution means a disadvantage???

Can somebody tell me that? :rolleyes:

P.S.: I must say that I'm in love with the Samsung Galaxy S2 as far I can see the videos on YouTube!!! But it's just the resolution that makes me confused :S

Hope to read more from you guys,
stay with love


#1 MX251088, Apr 20, 2011
That's a pretty colorful first post :)

Resolution is resolution. In general more is better, it increases the PPI (Pixels per Inch) which means there's more pixels in the same screen area, and they're closer so the visible space between is less noticeable.

The real question: is the resolution effectively different between the two. That's something you'll have to determine for yourself.

One additional caveat. How the RGB sub-pixels are arranged (that make up each HxV pixel) can affect the visible quality (and clarity of small details). Some displays use a Pentile display which reduces the display quality, and the new SAMOLED+ does _not_ use this configuration.
#2 DT, Apr 20, 2011
Uhoh. This might get long. Well umm. First off, what is resolution? Shove your face into your computer screen, or phone screen. You'll see little blocks or squares/rectangles. It's a grid. You ever play old Nintendo games? Arcade? Pac-man maybe? Pac-man is low-resolution. You can easily count the number of yellow blocks he's made of. He is very low-resolution. Very pokey and no detail. Now fast forward to 2011. Find a modern Pac-man picture. He's perfectly round now, or looks that way. If you shove your face into your screen, you can see the yellow blocks, but they are WAY smaller now and there's a ton more of them. This means he has way more resolution. This allows for a ton more detail. You might be able to find pimples on Pac-man, or a hidden vampire bite mark, because those blocks are now small enough to show them and not gigantic like before. That is basically what resolution is.

More resolution is always better, but not always practical if it compromises other things. The common resolution on Android phones is WVGA (800x480) and Android is built around this resolution. That means most applications, icons, and the UI will look their best at WVGA, and won't look weird or have minor visual compatibility issues or skewing. Thus, jumping to qHD (960x540) makes Android work harder, and general apps and stuff look not as good, because they were optimized for a smaller resolution of WVGA. There will be a slight performance decrease because of the higher resolution, as well as just a slight amount of lower battery.

However, since it IS higher resolution, qHD means you can see more of a website at once when you browse the interwebs, since there are more of those little blocks to form letters and pictures and stuff. It will also make pictures/movies/games all have higher resolution, meaning more detail in the image when you see it, more even littler blocks in a denser grid.

That said, there's another important factor to consider, in that, when will the blocks become too small to really matter? If you move your phone far enough from your face, the blocks eventually disappear and you see the whole image without any blocks. Some people with good eyesight can see the blocks even from farther away. Seeing the blocks is annoying, so most people want higher resolution (smaller blocks) to keep from seeing them. With the HTC Sensation, it is 960 blocks tall and 540 blocks wide, all in a nice grid, spread across 4.3" diagonal length. The SGS2 has a similar 4.27" (close enough to 4.3"), but only 800 blocks by 480 blocks, making each block bigger, because you need to fit fewer blocks into the same amount of space, so you enlarge them.

Which resolution you want will depend on how good your eyesight is and how far away you hold your phone. If you can see the blocks, text will look pokey and ugly. Same with pictures. Many people, however, are fine with WVGA on a 4.3" screen, and jumping to qHD may not be all that noticeable to them, and it comes with a certain pricetag, that being the SuperAMOLED screen, as well as the *minor performance/compatibility issues outlined above. Samsung only makes up to WVGA for their SuperAMOLED screens, and you'd be losing deep blacks, superwide angles, very high contrast, and other advancements for such a small and possibly negligible increase ot resolution in the Sensation's qHD LCD screen.

Then again, that qHD LCD could be the breaking point to not seeing those annoying blocks for you based on your eyesight, and everyone has their own tolerance to whether those blocks bother them or not and how much extra detail they will actually gain. Seeing more stuff on a website and seeing finer details on pictures/video/games/etc. as mentioned before, it is all very subjective.

For me, however, I don't see a huge difference between the two resolutions, I don't notice the blocks on either, but what I do notice is the SuperAMOLED screen and all the vibrant pictures it offers, so that seals the deal for me.
#3 chocobosandwich, Apr 20, 2011
I am also in the same quandrary, waiting to upgrade in a month or two. Sensation and SGSII being foremost. I simply will have to see both screens and decide. If one looks at the review of the Atrix (qHD) at gsmarena, they do mention that in spite of the qHD screen, things still look blocky, probably as a result of Android natively being built for 480x800.

So qHD by itself will not result in a better appearance as other factors also make a larger difference, including battery life (where IMO SGSII clearly has a huge edge - no point in qHD if I have to charge by afternoon).

As things now stand, IMO qHD seems a little ahead of its time on android, probably v2.5/2.6+ a year or so down the line will be able to fully exploit qHD capability.
#4 sandeep108, Apr 21, 2011
IMO, true resolution WVGA trumps pentile matrix qHD. I have a pentile matrix AMOLED screen and I think the SA+ will be a huge upgrade just on the sharpness improvement alone. Motorola's first qHD displays are pentile matrix. I had hear rumors a few weeks back that the same would be true for HTC's first qHD screens, but I hadn't heard any definitive answer either way since the announcement of the Sensation. Not that there's anything wrong with my display, but I won't spend my money on another pentile matrix setup.
#5 kyler13, Apr 21, 2011
While the SGSII is designed to be at the very top of the mountain, I'm guessing they also decided to play it safe on unneccessary things that could let it down, I'm glad they went with 800x480.
#6 Gearu, Apr 21, 2011
I think samsung got their new screen fab technology working recently, that would enable 300+ dpi AMOLED screens. Then I think we may see qHD or higher in the SGS III, or a later update (a russian reviewer talked about a high end device being released in september, to compete with iPhone 5).
#7 Nuukeer, Apr 21, 2011
On a desktop display the practical advantage will the ability to simply have more on the screen, on a mobile device everything is resized to fit the screen so this doesnt matter as much unless the difference is huge.

The other advantage is sharpness of the display, if you don't notice pixels on a 4.3" WVGA display then your not going to benefit much here either.

Whether you notice pixels or not also depends on if the screen uses the pentile matrix, but I think others have covered this enough.
#8 Shocky, Apr 21, 2011
Higher resolution is always a good thing but how much you benefit, as already discussed better than I ever could, is up to you.

The reason qHD can look blocky is because many apps are designed for WVGA. This means that if say, an icon is designed to be 12 pixels across in WVGA, it will be 14.4 pixels across on a qHD display, resulting in some aliasing where a pixel is .4 the icon's colour and .6 the background colour. I saw the same problem but more vividly when I got my Desire, upgrading from HVGA (320x480) to WVGA (480x800) and apps quickly got updated with new art.

I can't imagine them releasing a new high end phone so soon. Perhaps it's the SGS2 32GB?
#9 Quboid, Apr 21, 2011
Wow, you were right :D

(Good post :) )

Agreed. If everything else was equal: battery use, color/saturation/contrast, etc., and there wasn't scaling issues introduced, I'd always pick more resolution, but that's just not the case.

My thoughts exactly, and after owning an Atrix for ~30 days, the pentile config is definitely (for me), a deal breaker.

FYI, I'll be using SA+ from here on out :D

I wrote something about that a while back when I was looking at the AR for the Atrix (which is ~1.78 like a traditional widescreen TV), vs. the "standard" Android config of 800x480 (~1.67) and posited that same idea.

The iPhone 4 is stellar, and while I think the whole concept of the "retina" display (and subsequent marketing) was reverse engineered, that was a simple bit of design brilliance to double the display which resulted in an even scaling of UI resources.
#10 DT, Apr 21, 2011
800x480 on a 4.3 inch screen is plenty especially on a regular rgb sub pixel samoled screen. Keep in mind that this is already much higher pixel density (resolution) than 4.3 inches of an hd computer monitor. Unless you put the phone very close to your face, you will not notice the pixels. Qhd on a small screen is a gimmick. Beyond a point, it's unnecessary.
Qhd will also require more processing power, causing performace overheads in games and applications. Games will run slower, browser will take more time to render pages. Battery will drain faster.

Sgs2 screen will still look much better. :)
#11 Uber-Duper, Apr 21, 2011
Yes, it was smart thinking on Apple's part to retain backwards compatibility with early gen apps. I think qHD should be the stopping point for Android smartphone resolution, and while the retina display is nice, it's overkill. I rather like the way that qHD scales full HD by an even factor of two in each dimension, thus reducing the load on the processor. I keep hearing 1280x720 for future generations, but it's not necessary. Save that for the 7" tablet space.
#12 kyler13, Apr 21, 2011

Yeah, I agree with both of you about exceeding the qHD spec, and possibly even the standard being enough. It's funny that before the iPhone 4, PPI wasn't even largely discussed.

Speaking of: an 800x480 4.3" device is ~217 PPI, and this monitor I'm working on right now, 1920x1080 24" is ~92 PPI, yet I never considered the low-ish PPI an issue (granted things are a larger scale, but even tiny details are fine).

I really do thing the quality and pixel design/configuration play a large role over simply "more pixels".

Good additional point by Uber too, regard the additional CPU/GPU resources (which ultimately also effect the battery life). I believe that was a reason cited about the Atrix having lower GPU performance vs. other phones with the same Tegra configuration (having to push more pixels).
#13 DT, Apr 21, 2011
You typically have a phone much closer to your face so a higher DPI/PPI is needed. I can see each pixel on my 3.7" WVGA display and in a way a regular sub-pixel array would make this worse by defining each pixel more exactly. I've no doubt I could tell the difference between qHD and 1280x720 on a 4.3" display.

Oh what the hell, let's do this. By my calculations, based on a 4.3 inch, 16:9 display:
Width: 3.75 inches
Height: 2.11 inches

WVGA (800x480*): 220 DPI
qHD (960x540): 256 DPI
720p (1280x720): 342 DPI

(*WVGA isn't quite 16:9 but it's close enough!)

Apple's retina display is about 320 DPI, which the claim is the most the human retina can see. Convenient that it's twice their previous display but there you go. I've read that the human eye can see about 350 DPI, decreasing with age, so 300 is a fair figure for mature adults with 20:20 vision. That means 720p is perfect for up to about a 5" display, or a mini-tablet. 1080p should be acceptable for a 7" tablet.

Realistically, over 200 DPI you have to look for imperfections and over 250 you'll be squinting hard. Never the less, until the physical bottleneck is my body, I want more more more more more!

There are other factors like black levels, contrast, colour accuracy and so on, which care generally harder to measure but which the SAM-OLD+ display will kick the SLCD of the Sensation's relatively washed out ass.

Edit: FWIW, I was banging on about DPI/PPI before the iPhone 4, but then I'm a visionary (excuse the pun).
#14 Quboid, Apr 21, 2011
All good points. This is very nice discussion on the smart-phone display which is informative, useful for any android fans, not just for SGSII.

I also think that qHD screen with pentile pixels won't have any real gain over true WVGA but will have disadvantage in graphic performance and battery life. SAMOLED+ has improved sharpness over SAMOLED by using square RGB pixels and will boast the same high contrast, rich color, bigger viewing angle over the SLCD screens on most HTC phones. Of course HTC fanatics will brag about qHD screen heck of a lot without caring about details like this.

Bumping up screen resolution like this requires cooperations from all fronts like OS, processor, battery as Apple has shown with iPhone4. But even iPhone4 struggles in graphic benchmarks badly due to its massive number of pixels, often scoring worse than iPhone3GS.
#15 jinwons, Apr 21, 2011
i'm with the other guys in here
SAMOLED+ >>>qHD Pentile

on top of that, the higher res causes the GPU to do more because it's trying to push graphics out at a higher res. so you'll get better GPU performance say if you were comparing (example) 480x800 Tegra2 vs 540x960 Tegra 2
#16 mrvirginia, Apr 21, 2011
This is an interesting look at different screen technologies. It doesn't have the SGS2 but you can see how the SGS1's pentile matrix works. The SGS2 is a mix of the SGS1's brightness and the LG O2X's subpixel layout. It's amazing to me how much is dark gaps!
A gang of smartphones meets up for a microscopic display shootout - news

This is a can't-see-the-wood-for-the-trees comparison, it's a good look at how they work but you don't actually see that detail and by and large, you shouldn't care. Care about the end product, like pentile's slightly messy edges, but not about each subpixel directly.
#17 Quboid, Apr 21, 2011
This is right on here. I did a hands on up close comparison between the Desire/Thunderbolt's SuperLCD screen against the Atrix. Not only did the Atrix have worse color reproduction and contrast than the SuperLCD (and of course my S Amoled Fascinate) but you could also see the pentile effect. It wasn't as pronounced as on my Fascinate, thanks to the qHD resolution, but text and line edges on the SLCD looked much sharper, despite the SLCD being lower resolution AND larger.

This is one of the reasons I will loathe the Bionic's screen if it is indeed released using pentile matrix as its subpixel display method. It will just make the Atrix's problem larger, all while providing a less colorful and contrasty experience.

Now some say that they can't stand S Amoled's oversaturation or unreleastic colors, as some call it, but a phone is not like a TV or computer screen that is going to be in a semi controlled environment (perhaps very controlled if in a nice location like a basement or with some dark curtains.) A phone is going to be used quite often in non-ideal lighting situations that would drastically reduce your viewing quality and capability on the phone - unless it compensates with super contrast and punchy colors.

qHD is definitely not what I prefer if I'm going to have to take a pentile matrix to get it. I'll take S Amoled + with it's slightly lower resolution any day, and S Amoled + will continue to have Super Amoled's fantastic viewing angles and thinness.
#18 SirKronan, Apr 21, 2011
Mmmm punchy colors. You know what they need to do? Make the call button really really REALLY big. Take up half the phone screen or more. Make the end button a little bit smaller than that.
#19 chocobosandwich, Apr 22, 2011
The issue is also one of rendering. I am closely following a thread at Firefox forums because the hardware acceleration introduced is actually making the fonts blurrier than usual. Part of it appears to be due to Microsoft's DirectWrite API, but part is also due to the fact that Firefox wants the font to render 'perfectly', irrespective of the display pixels. Windows Vista/7 usually uses GDI -aligns the fonts to the pixels. So then one again has to fiddle with anti-aliasing or cleartype tuners.

So what apple has done with its retina display is to make sure the rendering matches the pixels. If Android does not match them at qHD, then though qHD at a higher pixel density ought to be better, will still not look as good as a 'normal' 480x800 screen.
#20 sandeep108, Apr 22, 2011
In the future we be all seeing vector graphics!
#21 chocobosandwich, Apr 22, 2011
I think it's probably wrong to assume that a qHD display will necessarily consume more overall power than a lower resolution.

It's true that a 960x540 display has 35% more pixels than a 800x480 one, and that therefore any CPU/GPU hardware playing with pixels will need to work around 35% harder and probably chew up correspondingly more battery.

But that is only true while pixels are actually being updated. If you're not currently running a game and you don't have animations or other screen updating constantly occurring, then the CPU/GPU won't be doing any display work at all.

Also I suspect (feel free to correct me!) that a display's static power consumption is based much more on its size, brightness, technology, and generation rather than the total number of pixels. So two 4.3" displays of identical technology differing only in resolution might have very similar power consumption -- and a pentile qHD may well be lower.

FWIW, the much hated pentile is supposed to have lower power and higher brightness. While maybe not attractive for color work, it might actually be a very good fit for people who use their phones largely as monochrome e-readers.
#22 BlueBiker, Apr 23, 2011
Monochromatic e-reader? Wut???? Someone uses their phone for that? You mean like the display on my TI calculator?
#23 chocobosandwich, Apr 23, 2011
LOL, well I just meant for reading email, browsing, newsfeeds, maybe an occasional e-book. I haven't actually tried a pentile phone, so can't confirm how good or awful it is.
#24 BlueBiker, Apr 23, 2011
On the contrary. Pentile matrix is better suited for graphics and images, resulting in softer details. But for text, which you want sharp, it's actually fuzzy and harder on the eyes. Anyone who does a lot of reading on their phone should stay away from pentile matrix displays.
#25 kyler13, Apr 23, 2011