We've seen a couple phones from HTC with a 1080p screen; namely the Droid DNA and J Butterfly, and have rumors of similar phones coming from Sony and LG. Clearly, someone in charge of the secret cabal of folks who designs smartphones likes the idea of a super high-resolution screen on a smartphone.

I just finished playing with a Droid DNA (knowing a mobile device reseller has its perks), and the screen looks awful damn nice. Because it's smaller in size, I say it looks as good (pixel wise) as the Nexus 10. But -- so does the HTC One X's 720p screen. In all honesty, I can't say the DNA screen is any better than the One X screen. Push the One X to 5-inches and maybe it's different, or maybe my eyes are tired from looking at Android devices for a few years. In either case, looking as good as the One X screen is nothing to be ashamed of.

Of course, the best part of the Android world is choice. So what I think really doesn't matter to anyone but me. 1080p screens are coming. Are the new must have? Tell us in the poll you'll find in the sidebar to the right or after the break.

Before we go, a look at last week's results.

Which has your interest -- the Galaxy Note 2 or the Droid DNA?


It's pretty conclusive that Samsung has things pretty well in hand for Verizon customers. We're not sure if one OEM having that much influence is a good or bad thing, but customer dollars do all the talking.


Reader comments

This week's sidebar poll: Are 1080p screens the next big thing?


Yeah I'm more than happy with a 720p display as long as it stays around or below 4.7". I don't want phones bigger than that but if I'm going to take a 5+" display, I'll gladly take the extra pixels.

I agree. I can see the argument that 720p is low for 5"+ phones. 1440x900 is a standard resolution, doesn't have all the detriments of 1080p (such as brightness, cost, etc), and has 309ppi at 5.5".

The argument for 1080p is pretty weak below 7"

Jerry, I wonder..do you think its possible for Samsung to create a Samoled display like in 5he Note 2, but it would be on par spec wise with the d8splay of the OneX.
I realise their 2 different technologies, but Clarity, contrast, brightness, all the incredible attributes that make the super LCD 2 or 3 displays what they are. Can Sammy give them a run for the money?

Of course I want more pixels but also want great battery life so bring on larger batteries like Motorola is doing. Soon its going top be who can offer the best software experience since they are all using mostly similar specs.

1080p would be great, but I feel like we are still struggling with battery power and graphics power when dealing with 1080p in a phone. So i'm happy to stick with 720p until the battery and graphics tech don't struggle streaming 1080p movies. Also, do you know how much space a 1080p movie needs? We need to graduate from 8-16GB phones if you want 2-3 1080p movies at a decent bit rate on the phone and cutting out external storage (I'm looking at you N4 and DNA) is making 1080p even more useless.

I have the new HTC Droid DNA and the battery life is excellent. I read a thread on here that mentioned the new LCD3 display is 2.5 times more efficient than other screens. Whether that it is true or not, I don't know, I just know that I unplugged my phone exactly 14 hours ago and I still have 71% battery left. I completely agree with you on the 8-16gb internal storage. It's an absolute insult to only have 16gb, and 8gb is beyond offensive.

On a small device like a phone, 1080p resolution is just a marketing gimmick. It is certainly not a "must have". All it really accomplishes is using up more RAM and GPU, and possibly battery. Almost nobody will be able to tell the difference between 720p and 1080p.

I voted for 1080. The only reason I'd because people love specs. This is better than that because of some tangible metric. Next year 1080 will be this years 720.

And a bonus for me is I get to ask iPhone users if they are "full HD".

In my own opinion 720p is plenty enough for phones up to 5" in size, and quad core is plenty also (even that is overkill in many respects) as others have said all the specs will be the same across the top phones and it will all be about the UI and software features OEMs add to Android. I absolutely love the SGS3 I bought it a week before the Nexus 4 launched because I didnt like what I saw completely in the Nexus 4 and I'm glad I did buy the SGS3. I find that despite the Pentile screen, it is more enjoyable and pleasing to look at than my friends Nexus 4 display; but they both have enough PPI, no need for 1080p, just slap better and bigger battery tech in these ol' devices.

Yea but it sounds like you might just be justifying your purchase. In what's way is your screen better than LG's?

I only want to see 1080p if performance and battery life aren't compromised. I love a beautiful screen as much as anyone, but I'd much rather have a phone that pushes 720p at 60fps with 2 days battery life over 1080p at 30fps for 1 day.

The only reason I miss having my old Motorola KRZR is because I only charged it every 4 days or so.

While we're on the topic of screens... I'd much rather have a 4.3" screen with software buttons over the current 4.7"+ beasts we have now. My EVO 3D with hardware buttons is just slightly uncomfortable to use. Please, Google, give me a 4.3" Nexus with 2 days battery life and a decent camera.

Keep in mind. 4.3in screen with software buttons doesn't automatically give you more bezel..so you're probably looking at a 4in screen.

Seconded! 720p still looks damn good to me. I can't see any pixels on my Galaxy Nexus. Maybe if I used a magnifying glass... Battery is really what the manufacturers should be focusing on these days.

Before I bought the DNA, I thought it was overkill. Comparing the screen to my old GNex or my wife's GS3 and I am wowed. That said, I have no idea whether it is because of the screen technology or the ppi. I do think the pendulum has swung a bit. When I had my original DInc, I envied the Fascinate screen and absolutely loved the Droid Charge Screen. I thought Samsung Screen were the poo. Now I think the SLCD screens have the edge. At some point, I bet it swings back...

That is nothing to do with the resolution and everything to do with the LCD technology. Hold the DNS up to an Evo LTE or One X and you will probably not notice any difference except it being a little larger.

The answer is an obvious YES. All of the high end phones will flock to 1080 screens. They will have too if they want their phone to look as good as the next guys on paper or in reviews on sites like this. I'm hoping we see something like 5"+ phones have 1080 and anything below sticks to 720. The screens are all so good now regardless, no matter the technology. We are just being picky about displays, a year ago the Gnex had one of the best displays now people say how bad it is. I use one everyday and the display is still beautiful. Technology came a long way in the last year and I'm sure by next November it will be amazing to see what's happened and what's next.

I'd prefer to see things like my Asus Prime had with IPS+ for sunlight viewing and better ways to make the screens use less power. I'm just kind of glad the 3D thing seems to have gone away for now.

Really it doesn't matter, until you have 4g and even wifi broadband fast enough to disply that resolution I think it is over kill.. and puts too much strain on the processor that could be put into user experience... my note II looks just great, and so does my 10.1.. what do you think?

I love my galaxy nexus and the colors really do pop however after going through 2 of these phones the burn in issue sucks. White looks yellowish and there are clear signs of where the navigation bar and notification bar are. As for the resolution, 720p is more than enough for me. the human eye can also only distinguish so much detail at that screen size.

720p is enough at 5 inches and below. It hurts my eyes to try and hold the phone close enough to notice any SDE as it is. 1080p is complete overkill, just like it is in most people's livingrooms.

Give me faster performance and better battery life at 720p instead.


unnecessary but welcome and it is the direction it'll go, really so long as battery life stays the same or better I'm fine with it.

Give me a 1080x1920 (9:16), 7-inch tablet @ 315 ppi or a 1080x1728 (10:16) 7-incher @ 291 ppi. 720p on my EVO LTE is perfect as it is.

Edit: Is 1080x1728 (10:16) a thing? What about 1080x1800 (9:15)?

Yeah. First it was CPU cores, then it was HD screens, now it's more HD screens. Next year it'll be even more powerful CPU's, lots of RAM combined with 1080p+ screens on phones.

Except it seems like while all other specs are increasing, the trend is to strip the devices of storage space... a huge move BACKWARDS.

This I also agree with. Hopefully Samsung never succumbs to the sealed in battery, no microSD designs that others have gone with.

We should not be getting this super powerful hardware in our phones that can run games and play 1080p movies on our 1080p phones and shoot 1080p video but only get 8 or 16GB of space. I put my foot down on that. No matter what one of these guys on here says. 8GB is unacceptable for a Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 with 2GB of RAM. It's not acceptable. 16 is the minimum but even it won't be enough at some point.

I have Galaxy Note II, and I can still see pixelated edges of objects in various games.
As well as text without antialiasing in FBReader.
Yes, 1080p makes sense.

I remember going with my old 32" Samsung bedroom TV with a max resolution of 720p because I was told that at THAT size you can't notice the 1080p benefit (of course viewing distance comes in to play just a little)

I'm ok with 1080p on a phone as long as they don't get any bigger. I guess I'm one of the rare few who thought the 4.3" was perfect. Don't get me wrong, I love my galaxy nexus, but the screen doesn't need to be that big and it is a stretch to use it sometimes. Wouldn't even be mad if 720p was standard for midrange phones next year.

The issue for me is that I don't want a huge screen, I'm annoyed by the huge phone war. I'm currently waiting for something at 4.5 or 4.6 inches, 720p here will give you over 300ppi easily, but screen quality and type is important also, I don't want some generic LCD.

The Galaxy SII came with a bright as hell 4.27 inch, 480x800 screen, called Super AMOLED Plus.
The Galaxy SIII comes along over a year later, and brings a 4.8 inch, 720p screen, called Super AMOLED HD...

The Galaxy S3's screen can be HD all it wants, but with the loss of 'the Plus', the brightness went aswell, leaving anyone who bought one with a so-so screen.
Ps: I know the tech in the two screens are quite different in regards to S2 focussing on saving battery on black pixels, and the S3 doing RGBG or something fruity, among things.

I'm sticking with my S2 and won't buy another phone unless it's 4.5 OR 4.6 inches, over 330ppi and has a truly awesome, non-power hungry, extremely bright screen that equals or surpasses the S2's, on top of not being average in any other area. 1080p would be nice, but I don't think we'll see that even in 4.7 inch form.

ps: I wish phone screens were given a candlepower rating, measured using a white background hehe. (but all the manufacturers would lie anyway)

Well, I have the Galaxy Note 2. I must say that my biggest worry was its Humongous size, but the size has grown on me and I have gotten quite used to it. I compared it to my friend's GS3 and too my surprise, I was shocked to find how small the GS3 was!! As far as pixels are concerned, even though the GN2 has less pixel density, I am very impressed with the screen. I only see pixels when the screen is literally 2 to 3 inches from my eyes, and I have to squint to see them.

Obviously, I would love to have a full 1080p screen. Who wouldn't, given the choice? The problem is I did not have a choice... at least not yet. I'm on Sprint. If the DNA had come to Sprint, I'm almost certain I would have gotten that over the GN2, because of my initial reluctance to the size of the GN2. But, alas, I did not have that option, so GN2 it was, and I'm quite content with it. :-)

This is the trade-off

Slightly gorgeous screen vs. Storage,functionality and battery life....

Hardware? I HONESTLY think they are about equal since there will be no discernable real world differences whatsoever... Note 2 all the way

It's a good thing you didn't have that option. If you use the two phones (DNA and Note II) back to back, you'll quickly realize the DNA is no more than an over-sized One X. While it's a great phone, all the reasons that (I presume) made you want a Note II are not the reasons why you'd want a DNA.

They're really not similar devices at all and the comparisons are silly.

If the 1080p is meant to degrade battery life..no thank you.. Im not buying that non sense gimmickry...give me at least a 3,500 mAh battery then I might change my mind...nobody wants the hassle of charging your phone twice a day

Ok people...just so you know...a good 1080p blu ray rip is just 2-3 gigs on the average (depending on the length) defnitely NOT 5 or 6 gigs as most people claim....YIFY is the master of torrent bluray rips.,bar none

1080p resolution reminds me of the megapixel race of today's DSLRs...you only notice the difference when you crop an image or viewed on a large monitor

One positive is that computer screens(including laptops) should finally hit 1920x1080 on laptops at LEAST, and on the desktop, those 23 inch screens should go well above that. Things have been stagnant on the PC side of things when it comes to resolutions.

As far as phones, a big thing is getting content that makes proper use of the higher resolution now available. Going to 1920x1080 means that video clips will not lose quality, and with HDMI outputs, we WANT our devices to be able to output at native resolutions for the larger screens. You make a video with your phone, and with 1920x1080 on the phone, you can then put it on a flat panel TV to show others.

I have the DNA, and as far as I can tell there's no down side to the 1080 screen. I brought it in to the Verizon store yesterday to compare the screen with every other phone there. In terms of color/white accuracy, brightness and sharpness, I didn't see anything that compared. There might have been one or two that appeared slightly brighter, but there was a major trade off on accuracy. Honestly, the only screen in the store that could compete was the iPhone 5 which was slightly brighter while still having good color. But nothing compares to the sharpness of the DNA's image. Where you see it most is actually text. That may not seem like a big deal, but it makes reading much better. I actually find it quite distracting trying to read on my N7 now after getting used to the DNA. To be fair, the jump from 720 to 1080 on a phone is subtle, but it is certainly noticeable, especially when going back to a lower resolution. From what I can tell, there's no down side. Battery life is good, speed is good, everything works and looks great. And it's not priced any higher than other phones (in fact less than some other "flagship" phones). Since there doesn't appear to be a real "down side", why NOT have a 1080 screen?

It's not a fair comparison to pit the DNA against a tablet that has a much larger screen AND a lower resolution. Any phone with a 720p display will be sharper than the N7. It doesn't speak much of the DNA's screen, rather than make the N7 seem terrible, which it isn't.

There are plenty of downsides with the DNA for the right user. No sense in beating a dead horse, though.

What you're saying is also backing up his point. The difference between 720p and 1080p is noticeable. It's not a case of whether or not it's "good enough". A car with 100 HP is good enough to get me to the store but a car with 200HP, while still not a race car, will deliver a better experience (meaning more fun). Isn't that what all this is about? Making the screen prettier so it's more enjoyable to use?

I have not heard of a single DNA owner that has said that they can't tell the difference between it and other screens. They all say it's better (with varying degrees of enthusiasm). Incrementally so but it's better. A 1080p TV has better resolution than 720p. It's noticeable. Subtly so on smaller screens but it is. Maybe you can't count pixels at these screen sizes but that's not really the point. Your eyes will notice the difference in quality.

I was playing with Air Play yesterday in the office... transferring iphone 4 and iPad 2 screens to the TV in the conference room. They both looked horrible and I remember thinking how awesome it would be to be able to do the same thing with something like the DNA that's running the same resolution as the TV natively. Seamless transition between devices with practically no degradation in image quality because it's all in the same format at the same scale. Awesome!

Now couple that with the recent announcement from Google to create a standard for that type of technology across all manufacturers and you have the beginning of a much bigger vision.

"The difference between 720p and 1080p is noticeable. It's not a case of whether or not it's "good enough". A car with 100 HP is good enough to get me to the store but a car with 200HP"

Math matters. 2.25x more pixels @ 1080p.

What remains of your comment is best when ignored.

Yeah, I didn't mean for that to be any sort of argument for why 1080p on a 5" or smaller phone was necessary... just pointing out that until you've seen 1080 and how clear text is, you probably wouldn't think it was necessary. Previously I thought the N7 screen was the bomb, but now going "backward" to it, it seems kind of lackluster. I don't have a 720p phone on hand to compare to, but I did side-by-side comparisons of every phone in the Verizon store, and the DNA's screen was "noticeably" better than everything else. In some cases it was more subtle, but you could still see the difference.

Could you elaborate on the "down sides" of the 1080 screen? I couldn't come up with one as implemented on the DNA (and battery/SD card don't count, they have nothing to do with the screen itself).


It IS noticeable, but it's only slight at best considering how dense the screen already is with a 720 display at around 4.5-5 inches. If I remember correctly, the perfect human eye can detect less than the full amount of pixels than a 720 screen can offer in a 4" form (which is easily over 300dpi), which lessens the difference even further. While I don't doubt everyone's opinion of the screen, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that some opinions are swayed by a placebo effect.

Regarding your car analogy, a more accurate example would have been the difference between a 7 speed transmission to a 9 speed. A 7 speed is already very efficient at what it does and the increase to a 9 speed becomes less of a quantum leap from a 4 speed to a 6 speed. At what point does an incremental increase in resolution justify the lack of key features in a phone?

I welcome improvements as much as anyone else but the jump from 720p to 1080p nowhere near a change from a 115hp Jetta S to a 200hp Jetta GLI. Conversely, likely why the take rate of a R32 versus the GTI is so low. It's just an incremental step up from something that's already great at what it does.

people only say 1080 p screens are unnecessary because ya you dont need one and also becase youve never seen them. it is actually beutiful way better than 720p. now i would understand why people dont want the dna and rather get a note 2 or something, because of no expandable memoryy, and the battery is ok, opposed to the note which besides for the screen is sick! not saying the screen is bad though, just not as nice as the dnaa