Samsung: AMOLED PenTile displays last longer

A close-up of the Galaxy Nexus and its 720p PenTile display. Image via TheTechBlock.com.

Phone development is progressing at a rate faster than at any other point in history, and for this reason, people are beginning to find their firm favorites. Some people prefer different displays for technical reasons, while others simply enjoy having a larger or higher-resolution display in the palm of their hand.

Samsung's Galaxy SIII launch did not go as well as planned, perhaps, with the device having received some negative attention for various reasons. Among these reasons was the design; critics were quick to describe Samsung's latest smartphone as being "Designed by Lawyers".

Another complaint which did not come quite as readily was about the screen. While it is a 4.8" Super AMOLED display with a 720p resolution, it also uses a Pentile subpixel layout instead of RGB. For the vast majority of people this proves of little importance, but among those with a knowledge or interest in the subject, it is an important compromise the company has made. The most common complaints about PenTile displays come from the general 'crispness' of the display. Color fringing is also not unheard of, with odd coloring happening along the edges of app icons.

Mobile Burn met with Samsung's Philip Berne, to find out more about the PenTile formation and the problems people seem to be facing with it. Berne maintains that the PenTile displays have more longevity due to their different layout. As would be expected, RGB displays use a "Red, Green, Blue" organization. PenTile displays use an RGBG layout: Red, Green, Blue, Green. This features more green subpixels than an RGB display with the same resolution.

In short, this means that the display will last longer. On AMOLED displays, the first subpixels to degrade are blue. Due to this it is important for the company to ensure the longevity of their displays. On average, buyers of Samsung's phones keep them for more than eighteen months, and the company seeks to provide the same performance for that period of time. For the majority of buyers who are looking for a powerful phone, the display might not be something they immediately consider. In fact, it is entirely possible that the majority of buyers could own their phone for 18 months and more without seeing any problems from the display. Critics of the PenTile display state that it is impossible to forget again once it has been observed, but the observation may never even enter some people's heads.

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9 Comments

Well it's no surprise, they've said this before about their AMOLED panels.

Obviously the real reason they're not using a normal pixel layout is that they probably can't manufacture them without a PenTile matrix either cheap enough or at a high enough yield yet, but the life is still a valid point. And at this kind of DPI, it's probably not as a large on any issue either.

IMO it would be better to use PenTile displays for any other smartphones, except for the Galaxy SX. The Galaxy smartphones are known for their kick-ass performance and latest technology, so why compromise with an old display? Most of the Galaxy owners are power users and technology enthusiasts, so they'll replace the phone anyway before the pixels die.

Even if the difference is minimal, it's still a reason for me not to upgrade and wait for something better to come out.

Nexx295 said,
IMO it would be better to use PenTile displays for any other smartphones, except for the Galaxy SX. The Galaxy smartphones are known for their kick-ass performance and latest technology, so why compromise with an old display? Most of the Galaxy owners are power users and technology enthusiasts, so they'll replace the phone anyway before the pixels die.

Even if the difference is minimal, it's still a reason for me not to upgrade and wait for something better to come out.

You're wrong. Most of the users aren't nerds, they are everyday users that don't care, or know what any of this stuff means.

It states in the article that people on average keep their Samsung for 18 months, which is an instant flaw in your theory.

From what I've noticed on other pentile technologies in the display is that they seem a little more dim than phones without pentile. It doesn't seem to have that "pop" and looks unimpressive at best, even at high resolutions.

As I understand it has to have larger sub pixels, which means they will still be work-ably bright down the road when they have degraded some.

The downside then is you have a much lower number of subpixels for the same "resolution" display. A 300dpi Pentile display has 1/3 fewer subpixels than a 300dpi display with red green and blue subpixels on every pixel.

The downside of that is more than just the lower effective resolution though. From what I've seen it causes strange effects when you have for example straight vertical edges in graphics or text. Since you don't really have the full set of color to work with on each pixel it's really a compromise.

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