Display specs and terms explained: Resolution, contrast, color gamut, and more

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus show  1

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Shopping for a caller show has ne'er been much confusing. Between a myriad of competing standards and caller show specifications, it’s often hard to archer which merchandise is better. Even panels from the aforesaid shaper tin boast vastly antithetic features and specifications.


Huawei EMUI Display Resolution Settings

Resolution is by acold the azygous astir salient show specification these days. Marketing buzzwords aside, a display’s solution is simply the fig of pixels successful each dimension, horizontal and vertical. For example, 1920 x 1080 indicates that the show is 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels tall.

Very broadly speaking, the higher the solution the sharper the display, though the perfect solution depends upon your intended use-case. A TV, for instance, benefits from a higher solution show overmuch much than a smartphone oregon adjacent a laptop.

Resolution is simply a classical illustration of however a higher fig is not ever better.

The industry-standard solution for TVs these days is present 4K, oregon 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. It is besides commonly referred to arsenic UHD oregon 2160p. Finding contented astatine this solution is not difficult. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ each connection a 4K tier.

Smartphones, connected the different hand, are a spot little standardized. You’ll lone find a precise tiny percent of devices, similar Sony’s flagship Xperia 1 series, that diagnostic a 4K-class display. Other high-end smartphones, specified arsenic the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro, see 1440p displays. Finally, the immense bulk of sub-$1,000 devices person 1080p-class displays.

See also: 1080p vs 1440p: How overmuch does 1440p truly impact artillery life?

There are 2 upsides to having a little solution surface connected a compact, handheld device. A show with less pixels requires little processing powerfulness and, consequently, is much energy-efficient. For impervious of this fact, instrumentality a look astatine the Nintendo Switch, which has a paltry 720p solution surface to easiness the load connected its mobile SoC.

The mean idiosyncratic volition apt not comprehend a bump successful clarity from 1080p to 4K connected a emblematic 6-inch smartphone display.

In that vein, the immense bulk of machine monitors and laptop displays contiguous are 1080p. One crushed for this is that 1080p displays are comparatively cheaper than their higher-resolution counterparts. More importantly, however, a high-resolution show requires beefier (and much expensive) graphics hardware to powerfulness it.

So what’s the perfect resolution? For portable devices similar smartphones and laptops, 1080p oregon adjacent 1440p are apt each you need. It’s lone erstwhile you attack larger show sizes that you should commencement to see 4K arsenic a baseline requirement.

Read more: 4K vs 1080p: Which solution is close for you?

Aspect ratio

Samsung CJ89 Super Wide Screen Monitor

Aspect ratio is different specification that conveys the carnal dimensions of the display. Instead of an nonstop measurement similar resolution, however, it simply gives you a ratio of the display’s width and height.

A 1:1 facet ratio means that the surface has adjacent horizontal and vertical dimensions. In different words, it would beryllium a square. The astir communal facet ratio is 16:9, oregon a rectangle.

Unlike galore different specifications connected this list, 1 facet ratio isn’t needfully amended than another. Instead, it astir wholly comes down to idiosyncratic preference. Different types of contented are besides amended suited to a circumstantial facet ratio, truthful it depends connected what you volition usage the show for.

Movies, for instance, are astir universally changeable successful 2.39:1. Incidentally, this is beauteous adjacent to astir ultrawide displays, which person an facet ratio of 21:9. Most streaming content, connected the different hand, is produced astatine 16:9 to lucifer the facet ratio of televisions.

You don’t person overmuch prime erstwhile it comes to TV facet ratios — astir each of them are 16:9.

As for productivity-related usage cases, laptop and tablet displays with 16:10 oregon 3:2 facet ratios person go progressively fashionable of late. Microsoft’s Surface Laptop series, for instance, houses a 3:2 display. These connection much vertical existent property than a emblematic 16:9 facet ratio. That means you get to spot much substance oregon contented connected the surface without scrolling. If you multitask a lot, however, you whitethorn similar the 21:9 oregon 32:9 ultrawide facet ratios since you tin person galore windows side-by-side.

Taller facet ratios similar 3:2 let you to spot much contented without scrolling, portion sacrificing a spot of horizontal existent estate.

Smartphone displays, connected the different hand, bash connection a spot much variety. On the utmost end, you’ll find devices similar the Xperia 1 III with a 21:9 display. As you’d expect, this makes the telephone gangly and narrow. If you similar a instrumentality that’s abbreviated and wide instead, see a smartphone with an 18:9 screen. Either way, it’s a substance of idiosyncratic preference.

Viewing angles

RedmiBook Pro screen

Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

Knowing a display’s viewing angles is highly important due to the fact that it dictates whether oregon not you tin presumption the surface off-center. Naturally, looking astatine a surface head-on is ideal, but that’s not ever possible.

A debased oregon constrictive viewing space means that you could suffer immoderate brightness and colour accuracy simply by moving your caput to the near oregon right. Similarly, placing the show supra oregon beneath oculus level whitethorn besides impact the perceived representation quality. As you tin astir apt guess, this is besides not perfect for shared surface viewing.

A show with mediocre viewing angles volition look importantly worse if you presumption it off-center.

IPS and OLED displays thin to person the widest viewing angles, easy approaching 180° successful astir cases. On the different hand, VA and TN panels thin to endure from narrower viewing angles.

However, viewing space numbers connected a spec expanse doesn’t ever convey the afloat communicative since the grade of prime degradation could scope from insignificant to extensive. To that end, autarkic reviews are a amended mode to gauge however a peculiar show performs successful this area.


OnePlus Oxygen OS 11 Android 11 brightness power  adjacent  up

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Brightness refers to the magnitude of airy a show tin output. In method terms, it is simply a measurement of luminance.

Naturally, a brighter show makes contented basal retired more, allowing your eyes to resoluteness and admit much detail. There’s 1 much vantage to a brighter show — you tin usage it successful the beingness of different airy sources.

Higher brightness doesn't conscionable marque contented look better, it besides improves visibility successful agleam conditions.

Take smartphone displays, for example, which person go progressively brighter implicit the past fewer years. A large crushed for this propulsion is accrued sunlight visibility. Only a decennary oregon 2 ago, galore smartphone displays were borderline unusable outdoors.

Brightness is measured successful candela per quadrate metre oregon nits. Some high-end smartphones, similar the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, advertise a highest brightness of good implicit 1000 nits. At the different extremity of the spectrum, you’ll find immoderate devices (like fund laptops) that apical retired astatine a paltry 250 to 300 nits.

Most high-end displays connection 1000 nits of brightness. This is astir eye-searingly agleam successful a acheronian room, but indispensable for nonstop sunlight.

There are besides 2 measurements to ticker retired for — highest and sustained brightness. While astir manufacturers volition boast a product’s highest brightness, that fig lone applies to abbreviated bursts of airy output. In astir cases, you’ll person to trust connected autarkic investigating to find retired a display’s existent brightness capability.

There are diminishing returns astatine the precocious end, truthful a tenable baseline for brightness is astir the 350 to 400 nits threshold. This guarantees that the show volition inactive beryllium somewhat usable successful agleam conditions, similar a sunny time oregon an exceptionally well-lit room.

A tenable baseline for brightness is the 350 to 400 nits threshold.

Brightness besides has an outsized power connected the display’s HDR capabilities, arsenic we’ll sermon soon. In general, the brightest show is often the champion enactment — each other being equal.

Contrast ratio

lg oled opposition  ratio

Contrast is the measured quality betwixt a agleam and acheronian country of the display. In different words, it is the ratio betwixt the brightest achromatic and darkest black.

Practically speaking, the mean opposition ratio lies betwixt 500:1 and 1500:1. This simply means that a achromatic country of the show is 500 (or 1500) times brighter than the achromatic portion. A higher opposition ratio is much desirable due to the fact that it provides much extent to colors successful the image.

If a show doesn’t nutrient cleanable blacks, darker portions of an representation whitethorn look grey instead. Naturally, this is not perfect from an representation reproduction standpoint. A debased opposition ratio besides affects our quality to comprehend extent and detail, making the full representation look washed retired oregon flat.

The checkerboard trial is simply a bully mode to visualize the quality betwixt debased and precocious opposition ratios. The beneath images, captured from 2 antithetic displays, amusement a marked quality successful opposition levels.

contrast ratio checkerboard test

Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

Imagine a acheronian country specified arsenic a starry nighttime sky. On a show with a debased opposition ratio, the entity won’t beryllium transportation black. Consequently, idiosyncratic stars won’t basal retired precise overmuch — reducing the perceived quality.

Low opposition ratio is particularly evident erstwhile contented is viewed successful a acheronian room, wherever the full surface volition glow adjacent though the representation is expected to look mostly black. In agleam rooms, however, your eyes apt won’t beryllium capable to archer the quality betwixt a precise acheronian grey and existent black. In this instance, you could possibly get distant with a little opposition ratio.

At a minimum, your show should person a opposition ratio supra 1000:1. Some displays execute importantly higher opposition ratios acknowledgment to their usage of newer technologies. This is discussed successful the pursuing conception connected section dimming.

Local dimming

LED Backlight Array TV

Local dimming is an innovative diagnostic utilized to amended the opposition ratio of backlit LCD displays.

Displays utilizing OLED exertion thin to boast the champion contrast, with galore manufacturers claiming an “infinite:1” ratio. This is due to the fact that OLED panels are composed of idiosyncratic pixels that tin wholly crook disconnected to execute existent black.

Traditional displays similar LCD televisions, however, are not made up of individually lit pixels. Instead, they trust connected a azygous achromatic (or blue-filtered) backlight that shines done a filter to nutrient colors. An inferior filter that doesn’t artifact capable airy volition effect successful mediocre achromatic levels and nutrient grays instead.

Read more: AMOLED vs LCD: Everything you request to know

Local dimming is simply a caller method of improving opposition by splitting the LCD backlight into abstracted zones. These zones are fundamentally groups of LEDs that tin beryllium turned connected oregon disconnected arsenic required. Consequently, you get deeper blacks simply by turning disconnected a peculiar zone’s LEDs.

full array section  dimming

Effect perchance exaggerated for marketing. Courtesy of LG.

The effectiveness of a display’s section dimming diagnostic depends chiefly connected the fig of backlight zones. If you person galore zones, you get much granular and precise power implicit however overmuch of the show is illuminated. Fewer zones, connected the different hand, volition effect successful a distracting glow oregon halo astir agleam objects. This is known arsenic blooming.

While section dimming is becoming a beauteous communal selling term, wage attraction to the fig of zones and the implementation. Full array section dimming is the lone due implementation of this concept. Edge-lit and backlit section dimming techniques usually don’t amended opposition arsenic much, if astatine all.

Read more: OLED vs LCD vs FALD TVs — What are they and which is best?


 1.0 vs 2.2

Gamma 1.0 vs 2.2

Gamma is simply a mounting that you tin usually find buried heavy wrong a display’s settings menu.

Without getting ace in-depth, gamma refers to however good a show transitions from achromatic to white. Why is this important? Well, due to the fact that colour accusation cannot beryllium translated 1:1 into show brightness. Instead, the narration looks much similar an exponential curve.

Experimenting with assorted gamma values yields absorbing results. Around 1.0, oregon a consecutive enactment according to the gamma equation, you get an representation that is highly agleam and flat. Use a precise precocious worth similar 2.6, though, and the representation gets unnaturally dark. In some cases, you suffer detail.

The perfect gamma worth is astir 2.2 due to the fact that it forms an nonstop inverse curve of the gamma curve utilized by integer cameras. In the end, the 2 curves harvester to signifier a linear perceived output, oregon what our eyes expect to see.

See also: The value of gamma

Other communal gamma values for displays are 2.0 and 2.4, for agleam and acheronian rooms respectively. This is due to the fact that your eyes’ cognition of opposition depends heavy connected the magnitude of airy successful the room.


Bit-depth refers to the magnitude of colour accusation a show tin handle. An 8-bit display, for example, tin reproduce 28 (or 256) levels of red, green, and bluish superior colors. Combined, that gives you a full scope of 16.78 cardinal colors!

While that fig whitethorn dependable similar a lot, and it perfectly is, you astir apt request immoderate context. The crushed you privation a larger scope is to guarantee that the show tin grip flimsy changes successful color.

Take an representation of a bluish sky, for example. It’s a gradient, which conscionable means that it is made up of antithetic shades of blue. With insufficient colour information, the effect is alternatively unflattering. You spot chiseled bands successful the modulation betwixt akin colors. This improvement is called banding.

A display’s spot extent specification doesn’t archer you a full batch astir however it mitigates banding successful software. That’s thing lone autarkic investigating tin verify. In theory, though, a 10-bit sheet should grip gradients amended than an 8-bit one. This is due to the fact that 10 bits of accusation equals 210 oregon 1024 shades of red, green, and bluish colors.

1024(red) x 1024(green) x 1024(blue) = 1.07 cardinal colors

Remember, though. To afloat admit a 10-bit display, you request matching contented arsenic well. Luckily, contented sources that present much colour accusation person go progressively communal of late. Gaming consoles similar the PlayStation 5,  streaming services, and adjacent UHD Blu-rays each connection 10-bit content. Just retrieve to alteration the HDR enactment since the modular output is mostly 8-bit.

10-bit displays tin grip a batch much color, but astir contented is inactive 8-bit.

All successful all, if you devour a batch of HDR content, see picking a show that is susceptible of 10-bit color. This is due to the fact that contented mastered for HDR really takes vantage of the full colour range. For astir different use-cases, an 8-bit sheet volition apt beryllium enough.

Color gamut

The colour gamut specification tells you however overmuch of the disposable colour spectrum a fixed show tin reproduce. Think of colour gamut arsenic a display’s colour palette. Whenever an representation needs to beryllium reproduced, the show picks colors from this constricted palette.

The disposable colour spectrum, oregon what our eyes tin see, is commonly represented arsenic a horseshoe shape, which looks thing similar this:

For TVs, the modular colour abstraction is Rec. 709. It amazingly lone covers astir 25% of what our eyes tin spot (like the highlighted information above). Despite that, it is the colour modular adopted by broadcast tv and HD video. To that end, see 95 to 99% sum of this abstraction arsenic a bare minimum and not a feature.

In caller years, much expansive colour gamuts similar DCI-P3 and Rec. 2020 person go cardinal selling points. Monitors tin besides connection these wider colour gamuts, but you’ll mostly lone find that diagnostic successful nonrecreational models. Indeed, if you’re a lensman oregon video editor, you mightiness payment from sum of further colour spaces.

However, astir modular contented sources similar streaming services don’t instrumentality vantage of wider colour gamuts. That said, HDR is rapidly gaining popularity and could marque wider colour gamuts much accessible.

Like TVs, astir computer-related contented is designed astir the decades-old modular RGB (sRGB) colour gamut. To note, sRGB is beauteous akin to Rec. 709 successful presumption of its sum of the colour spectrum. Where they disagree is successful presumption of gamma. sRGB results successful a gamma worth of 2.2, portion Rec.709’s worth is 2.0. Nevertheless, a show with adjacent 100% sum of either should service you well.

Most standard, non-HDR contented is mastered for the sRGB oregon Rec. 709 colour space.

About the lone devices that thin to skimp retired connected sRGB sum these days are low-end laptops. If colour accuracy is important to you, see avoiding displays that lone screen lone 45% oregon 70% of the sRGB colour space.


apple ipad aerial  2020 reappraisal  display

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

HDR, oregon High Dynamic Range, describes displays that tin output a wider scope of colors and connection much item successful acheronian and agleam areas alike.

There are 3 indispensable components to HDR: brightness, wide colour gamut, and opposition ratio. In a nutshell, the champion HDR displays thin to connection exceptionally precocious opposition levels and brightness, successful excess of 1000 nits. They besides enactment a wider colour gamut, similar the DCI-P3 space.

Read more: Should you bargain a telephone for HDR?

Smartphones with due HDR enactment are communal these days. The iPhone 8, for instance, could play backmost Dolby Vision contented successful 2017. Similarly, Samsung’s flagship smartphones’ displays boast exceptional contrast, brightness, and colour gamut coverage.

A bully HDR show needs to connection exceptional brightness, contrast, and a wide colour gamut.

Unfortunately, though, HDR is different word that has turned into a buzzword successful the show exertion industry. Still, determination are a fewer presumption that tin marque buying for an HDR TV oregon show easier.

Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are newer, much precocious formats than HDR10. If a tv oregon show lone supports the latter, probe different aspects of the show too. If it doesn’t enactment a wide colour gamut oregon get agleam enough, it’s apt nary bully for HDR either.

Refresh rate

OnePlus 8 Pro 120Hz show  refresh complaint   setting

A display’s refresh complaint is the fig of times it updates each second. We usage Hertz (Hz), the portion of frequency, to measurement refresh rate. The immense bulk of displays connected the marketplace contiguous are 60Hz. That conscionable means they update 60 times per second.

Why does the refresh complaint matter? Well the faster your contented refreshes the smoother animation and question appear. There are 2 components to this, the display’s refresh complaint and the framework complaint of your content, specified arsenic a crippled oregon video.

Videos are typically encoded astatine 24 oregon 30 frames per second. Obviously, your device’s refresh complaint should lucifer oregon transcend this framework rate. However, determination are tangible benefits to going beyond that. For one, precocious framework complaint videos bash exist. Your smartphone, for example, is apt susceptible of signaling contented astatine 60fps and immoderate sports are broadcast astatine higher framework rates.

A higher refresh complaint gives you the cognition of smoothness, particularly portion interacting with the display.

High refresh rates besides connection a smoother acquisition erstwhile you interact with the display. Simply moving a rodent cursor connected a 120Hz monitor, for example, volition look noticeably smoother. The aforesaid goes for touchscreens, wherever the show volition look much responsive with a higher refresh rate.

This is wherefore smartphones are present progressively including higher-than-60Hz displays. Almost each azygous manufacturer, including Google, Samsung, Apple, and OnePlus, present connection 90Hz oregon adjacent 120Hz displays.

Screens that update much often besides connection gamers a competitory edge. To that end, machine monitors and laptops with refresh rates arsenic precocious arsenic 360Hz besides beryllium connected the marketplace today. However, this is different specification wherever diminishing returns travel into play.

A display's refresh complaint offers diminishing returns the higher up you go.

Variable refresh rate

Asus ROG Phone 2 surface  refresh complaint   switch

As the rubric suggests, displays with a adaptable refresh complaint (VRR) aren’t bound to a changeless refresh rate. Instead, they tin dynamically alteration their refresh complaint to lucifer the root content.

When a accepted show receives a adaptable fig of frames per second, it ends up displaying a operation of partial frames. This results successful a improvement called surface tearing. VRR reduces this effect greatly. It tin besides present a smoother acquisition by eliminating judder and improving framework consistency.

Having said that, the exertion has precocious made its mode to consoles and mid to high-end televisions similar LG’s OLED lineup. This is mostly acknowledgment to the inclusion of adaptable refresh complaint enactment successful the HDMI 2.1 standard. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X enactment this standard.

Variable refresh complaint (VRR) exertion benefits gamers by improving framework consistency and reducing judder.

Variable refresh complaint exertion has besides go progressively fashionable successful the smartphone industry. Reducing the fig of surface refreshes erstwhile displaying static contented allows manufacturers to amended artillery life. Take a assemblage application, for example. There’s nary request to refresh the surface 120 times per 2nd until you swipe to the adjacent picture.

Whether oregon not your device’s show should person enactment for adaptable refresh complaint depends connected the intended usage case. That said, for devices that are permanently plugged into the wall, you’re improbable to announcement immoderate payment extracurricular of gaming.

Response time

Acer predator show   2

Response clip refers to the clip it takes for a show to modulation from 1 colour to another. It is usually measured from achromatic to achromatic oregon grey to grey (GtG) and quoted successful milliseconds.

A little effect clip is desirable due to the fact that it eliminates ghosting oregon blurriness. These hap erstwhile the show cannot support up with fast-moving content.

Slow effect times tin effect successful trailing shadows down accelerated moving objects.

Most monitors these days assertion to person effect times astir 10ms. That fig is perfectly acceptable for contented viewing, particularly since astatine 60Hz, the show lone refreshes each 16.67 milliseconds. If the show takes longer than 16.67ms astatine 60Hz, however, you’ll announcement a shadiness pursuing moving objects. This is commonly referred to arsenic ghosting.

Televisions and smartphones thin to person somewhat higher effect times due to the fact that of the dense representation processing involved. Still, you’re improbable to announcement the quality portion simply browsing the net oregon watching videos.

Read more: Gaming show vs TV: Which 1 should you buy?

At the different extremity of the spectrum, you’ll find gaming monitors that advertise 1ms effect times. In reality, that fig mightiness beryllium person to 5ms. Still, a little effect clip coupled with a precocious framework complaint means that caller accusation gets delivered to your eyes sooner. And successful highly competitory scenarios, that’s each it takes to summation an borderline implicit your opponent.

Sub-10ms effect times lone truly substance if you're a competitory gamer.

To that end, sub-10 millisecond effect times are lone indispensable if you’re chiefly utilizing the show for gaming.

Motion smoothing oregon MEMC

MEMC show  spec connected  ZTE Axon 9 Pro

MEMC is an initialism for Motion Estimation and Motion Compensation. You’ll find this diagnostic connected a assortment of devices these days, ranging from televisions to smartphones.

In a nutshell, MEMC involves adding artificial frames to marque debased framerate contented look smoother. The extremity is usually to lucifer the content’s framework complaint to the refresh complaint of the display.

Films are typically changeable astatine 24fps. Video captured connected a smartphone mightiness beryllium 30fps. Motion smoothing allows you to double, oregon adjacent quadruple, this figure. As the sanction suggests, MEMC tries to estimation oregon conjecture aboriginal frames based connected question successful the existent frame. The display’s onboard chipset is typically liable for this function.

Read more: Not each 120Hz smartphone displays are made arsenic — here’s why

Implementations of MEMC alteration betwixt manufacturers and adjacent devices. However, adjacent the champion ones whitethorn look fake oregon distracting to your eyes. Motion smoothing tends to present the alleged soap opera effect, making things look unnaturally smooth. The bully quality is that you tin usually crook it disconnected successful the device’s settings.

Motion smoothing tin look fake oregon unnatural to the trained eye. Thankfully, you tin crook the diagnostic off!

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