The Android camp has long insisted on pushing massive screen sizes to the point where even Apple felt compelled to respond by making the iPhone’s screen taller. Excluding Gorilla-sized devices such as the Galaxy Note phablet, smartphones typically have displays between four and five inches diagonally and settle with the native 720p resolution (1,280-by-720).

But as HTC’s upcoming J Butterfly shows, device makers aren’t standing still and are now pushing 1080p smartphone screens. President and CEO of DisplayMate Dr. Raymond Soneira knows a thing or two about displays and he thinks packing twice as much pixels onto essentially the same surface area is marginally beneficial as your eye can hardly tell the difference between 720p and 1080p on a typical smartphone display…

The technology is certainly there.

HTC’s J Butterfly is the world’s first 1080p phone. Its five-inch display runs at the native 1080p resolution (1,920-by-1,080) and has pixel density of an astounding 440 pixels per inch. In comparison, the iPhone 5 has a four inch screen with a 1,136-by-640 pixel resolution, amounting to 326 pixels per inch.

Sharp, the ailing Japanese electronics maker that collaborates with Foxconn and Apple on displays, is working on some interesting new mobile screens. LG Display back in June announced a five-inch display with full HD resolution.

Disregarding for a moment the strain that 1080p puts on mobile GPUs and batteries, Apple should just take this tech and deliver a 1080p iPhone in 2013, right?

Hold your horses, says DisplayMate’s Raymond Soneira.

In an interview with Florence Ion of ArsTechnica, Soneira explains only people with the perfect 20/20 vision might be able to notice a slight difference between a 720p and 1080p smartphone display.

For some people, it is possible to tell the difference if we were to sit down and study a [1080p] display and a [720p] display, side-by-side.

If you’re really a fanatic and you study images, or you have some professional applications and you’re really into displays, then it may make a visual difference for you.

To us, ordinary folks, the extra sharpness of a 1080p display is wasted because your eyes typically “can’t resolve sharpness above 229 pixels per inch”, he says.

Even the tiniest image detail in a photograph is always spread over more than one pixel. The image detail is never perfectly aligned with the pixel structure of the display.

The negligible difference between a 720p and 1080p smartphone display is all but irrelevant when it comes to ordinary viewing of videos because “1920×1080 is really not going to make a visual difference”.

On the other hand, 1080p may help with rescaling content “because you don’t have the rescaling artifacts”. It could be also meaningful in the UI department as denser pixels may make buttons and text stand out and look sharper. Even that is debatable because a technique known as sub-pixel rendering usually helps improve the visual sharpness of computer-generated graphics.

Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet uses sub-pixel rendering to improve the sharpness of user interface elements rendered on its 10.6-inch display with 1366-by-768 pixels.

Wikipedia has more on sub-pixel rendering. Basically, it’s a technique that fools your eyes into thinking you’re seeing more pixels than there are. All Apple devices use standard pixel rendering which treats all pixels equally.

Soneira knows these things inside out, mind you.

He’s the guy who dispelled Heatgate, rated the iPhone 5 as having the best display in a smartphone and laughed off Microsoft’s claim of Surface beating iPad 3 on screen sharpness.

So there you have it: smartphones with 1080p screens won’t necessarily look any better than today’s 720p devices.

But one cannot stop progress.

I’m sure vendors will push 1080p phones like nobody’s business and use 1080p as a selling point in much the same way they do with the screen size today.

Do you think Apple will buck the trend or jump on the 1080p bandwagon at some point?

  • Im Totally Fine with the iPhone 5 Display. Its Great and has really accurate Colors. 🙂

    • @dongiuj

      With a yellowish tint.
      And what is “really accurate colors”?

      • which got evaporated in 1-2 days…don’t hate apple that much…:)

      • @dongiuj

        I don’t hate apple. I just don’t think the sun shines out of their a** like apple fangirls think, praising anything and everything about apple.

      • yea I get it,but you seem to hate everything of theirs…if you still have that yellow tint, please goto an apple store and get it replaced…:)

      • The yellow tint occurs on the withe model. Black model shows neutral colors and colder colors. (Source: just switched from white 4S to black 4S)
        Apple probably does this to make the colors more pleasant and matching with the color of the phone.

      • @dongiuj

        I think you’re mistaken the white and black thing. That shouldn’t make the slightest difference as to what colour the shell is. I have a black iphone 5 and the white colours on the screen look yellowish compared to my iphone 4 and my wifes’ 4S.

  • J M

    How is this a debunking? He at best says that any phone with 1080p won’t have noticeable change from 720p. And it has nothing to do with whether apple is actively pursuing this or not. Can titles just describe without being sensationalist, I have mainstream media if i want attention-grabby titles with little connection to the article…

  • adnanala

    iphone 5 is the best

  • YOU NEED A DAMN LOOP TO see pixels on the iphone 4s and 5 so what is the point of more pixels??? all it will do is eat up cycles from the GPU and use up more battery

    • More pixels = more content on screen.

    • ReanimationXP

      ..loop? I could stand to have a higher ppi.

  • As cool as higher resolution screens sound, as long as we’re talking about screen sizes as small as 5″ or below, I don’t really see much of a benefit. The only thing I can really see happening is battery life and or performance taking an unnecessary hit.

    If this turns out to be unfounded, then great. Technology marches onwards and other companies will have to compete, giving us all better products. But honestly, looking at the differences between a lot of handset displays currently on the market, how many more PPI do you really need? Really, besides differences in the way the displays differ in color reproduction, can you really tell much of a difference?

  • adnanala

    the retina display is better than HD

    • adal.javierxx

      100% agree

  • Jump on the band wagon? They’ll probably patent it now and sue HTC!

  • insp1112

    1080p? Cool. But the bigger problem is the battery. Gosh. We have powerful screen, CPU, gpu, but no powerful battery. How ironic. We can do every thing better, but we have to do it shorter.

  • thor_molecules

    ….Yet I’d be willing to bet my last dollar that the MOMENT Apple releases a 1080p iPhone the blogosphere will have a collective orgasm, crying “why wasnt this done before!?!”

  • Apple need to produce a 720p phone first!!! Lol
    The screen on my 4s looks washed out compared to a sgs3. I know what my next upgrade is.

  • Just letting you know that the htc j butterfly is not the world first 1080 p smarthphone. It was the oppo find 5 (i Know you never heard of them) but specs are amazing on this beast
    Check it out

  • Mario.villegas90

    I know im going to get down votes for this but who im not an IFAN you say it does not matter a phone with Full HD but when apple takes out a full HD iphone all The Ifans Will be like “INOVATION” BRAKETHOUGH BUT YET AGAIN APPLE IS PLAYING CATCH UP IFANS JUST HATE ADROIDS BECAUSE THEYR HAPPY WITH YOUR ORDINARY IPHONE BECAUSE YOUR BLIND YOU DONT SEE THAT APPLE IS STAYING BEHIND

  • ThinkThong

    … And then after apple introduces the 1080p screen, all the ifans would think that it looks awesome than 720p. Even though they say nobody can notice the difference NOW.

    Steve Job reminds me of David Koresh.

  • I’ll be holding my opinions.
    Yeah, iPhone’s display is awesome, but until we see the 440 PPI screen ourselves, we can never tell the difference.

  • “Debunks the 1080p iPhone”? Apple fanboy and President and CEO of DisplayMate Dr. Raymond Soneira doesn’t debunk anything, merely suggests a 1080p phone resolution would be superfluous for most people.
    “Laughed off Microsoft’s claim of Surface beating iPad 3”? The dude doesn’t laugh anything off, not so much as a chuckle or even a smirk in that report.
    Author needs to stop satisfying his Apple fanaticism with embellished headlines. He can do that in private with kleenex and a quarterly Apple earnings report.

  • nima

    lol, why do you need it? worthless. it takes more energy and there is no differ when seeing it!

  • It doesn’t matter really. People that don’t typically read about this stuff or know what the difference is will only see ” oh that one has a higher number, it must be better”. HTC will probably bank on the ignorance or lack of knowledge of the general public to sell their new “better than iPhone 5” product. Since now a days everything is compared to only iPhones haha

  • Henri Parmentier

    It’s not introduced by Apple so it must be bad…
    Lets talk about this again in 2 years when they will introduce the “Super retina” .. lol

    This blog is really totally biased and has basically nothing to bring

    Ow.. wait, nobody did bash Samsung yet, did you forget?

  • The iPhone 5 has a yellowish tint bc of the in cell tech and it not having a space Btwn the LCD and touchscreen. There r articles out there on it.

  • Usama Daud

    iphone 6 will have 2048×1536 resoultion i can bet on it!

  • Surfer Paul

    i phone5s Movies are not all that drop a clip on your computer then right click it then click properties then the Details tab check the frame rate its only 29 FPS, 60 FPS in interlacing is still better, And 60P is best P for Progressivescan, But its ok for “what it is”