Mobile Screens: What You Need to Know Before Buying

What exactly is a “nit”? We demystify this and other mobile display terms like “IPS” and “Super AMOLED” and summarize what you need to know while shopping screens.

Don’t be left scratching your head at the complicated terms describing your display choices. Here’s a rundown of some of the more popular terms and what they mean for a smartphone screen’s performance.

What is a nit?

The term nit is actually slang for the standard measurement for luminance, the candela per square meter. In other words, nit refers to the brightness that is produced by your mobile screen. The average nit of devices is around 300. LG is known for producing devices with more nits for greater brightness and clarity, as seen in the Intuition.

Key Takeaway: The higher the number of nits, the better.

What are AMOLED and Super AMOLED?

A lot of newer smartphones tout having AMOLED or Super AMOLED displays. AMOLED stands for Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode. Super AMOLED is an AMOLED display with an integrated digitizer, meaning the layer that detects touch is actually in the screen rather than on top of it. A Super AMOLED screen reflects five times less sunlight compared to an AMOLED display. And that’s a good thing.

Then there’s the Super AMOLED Plus featuring even more saturated color due to its doubling of sub-pixels (they help control how much color you see on the screen). These displays are bright and colorful without putting a lot of drain on the battery.

Key Takeaway: AMOLED screens are great; Super AMOLED screens have innovative touchscreens and do better in sunlight; Super AMOLED Plus offer even better color without taxing the battery.

Isn’t LCD for TVs?

LCD, or Liquid Crystal Display, screens are already prevalent in TVs, notebooks and tablets. Now they’re making the leap to smartphones.

The technology itself involves two sheets of polarizing material surrounding a liquid crystal solution. An electric current passing through the liquid causes the crystals to align, thus blocking light from passing through. So, what does that mean to you? It gives the screen a fast refresh rate, perfect for bright displays that consume less power.

Key Takeaway: LCDs offer great mobile screens without big battery drain. Companies like LG with a lot of flat-screen TV experience are now creating innovative smartphone displays.

What the heck is an IPS display?

The newer kid on the block, IPS (In-Plane Switching) screens also offer vibrant colors. But the real bonus is that they allow for clear viewing from any angle because the liquid crystals are aligned horizontally rather than on an angle, with more pixels per square inch, all uniform in size. These screens may be more expensive, but if you need to see your screen clearly no matter where your smartphone sits, it’s well worth it.

Key Takeaway: IPS displays are great if you need to see your screen from various angles, like on a tablet.

In summary

Ultimately, the different names and variations on the technologies are the result of different manufacturers. What you choose to go with depends on what you’re looking for in a smartphone or tablet, as well as how your own vision reacts to different displays. Visiting your local Verizon Wireless store in person can be a great way to try out various screens and devices. And now you’ll be able to impress the rep with your amazing knowledge of nits and IPS.

This article was written by an author contracted by Verizon’s Insider's Guide to provide helpful information on wireless technology. The thoughts, opinions and suggestions of the author may not necessarily reflect those of Verizon Wireless.

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