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Mobile Devices - Samsung is apparently planning to put 4K displays on smartphones. According to statements made a few months ago at a South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy analyst event, Samsung plans to release an Ultra-HDTV smartphone in 2015, making current smartphone and tablet display resolutions anemic by comparison.
As reported by the South Korean press outlet Media Daum, Samsung has smartphones under development that would take the current 440ppi 5-inch HD displays and increase the pixel density to QHD (560ppi), followed by UHD (860ppi). At the 860 density, this means the 5-inch display would have a near-4K resolution of 3748 x 2108.
Building on this information, the NPD Group released a report this month forecasting that 4K global display shipments would reach 23 million units in 2015, with smartphones accounting for more than 5% of these in North America and Japan, and just under 5% in Western Europe. With some forecasters predicting US smartphone sales at about 89M in 2014, a global figure of about 1 million UHD phones in 2015 might just be “in the noise,” so to speak, and therefore not too unbelievable.
Is this resolution useable on a smartphone? As we’ve reported before, at 4K resolution, the viewing distance where one can just start to resolve individual pixels is about 1.5 picture heights, or about 0.75 screen diagonals. For a 5-inch display, this means you would have to hold the screen less than 4 inches from your eyes to see the pixels – clearly an impractical situation. For a 10” tablet, the UHD distance works out to about 7.5 inches, a much more realistic situation.
From the physics of it, one could conclude that Samsung’s announcement is a battle-of-the-specs headline grabber, one that would satisfy those consumers that must have the highest numbers on THEIR phone. But the numbers are rather close to the practical limits, and that means you can just about guarantee that no one will be able to see the pixels with the unaided eye. When you get past that point for ALL viewers, the image on the screen now becomes essentially equivalent to the highest-resolution photograph anyone has ever seen on any medium. Combine that with very high contrast, and the rendition could cross into a perceived condition of reality, and that may very well be the ultimate marketing goal. There’s a reason why Apple calls it Retina. – Aldo Cugnini