Talks are going round that Samsung is planning to introduce a 560ppi (pixels per inch) smartphone by next year. The trend from Samsung is that both its flagship devices for each year feature almost the same screen resolution so probably both the Samsung Galaxy S 5 and Samsung Galaxy Note IV due in 2014 will feature the high 560ppi. If the same pixel resolution is maintained but the screen size of Note IV is significantly higher than the S 5, then the ppi in Note IV would be slightly lower.
Samsung also intends to have smartphones feature 4K resolution by 2015 (probably 4096 by 2160 pixels). But what does these high screen resolutions mean for smartphone users?
A higher resolution is very important for big screen TVs. For precision in details, the bigger the TV the higher the resolution it requires otherwise it will blur the image. This is the same as zooming in a picture until you start noticing some “boxes” or “dots” or rather blurriness on the image. So to retain the same details, bigger TVs should be fitted with more pixels. In essence an image that looks clear on a 5 inch screen (e.g. smartphone) with a pixel density of 300ppi, will look the same on a 50 inch screen with the same 300ppi otherwise if the number of pixels in the smartphone is the same for the 50 inch screen then each pixel will be like 10 times bigger hence the TV will “magnify” the image ten times to create blurriness. This explains why movies on small screen TV look sharper and clearer than viewing the same on bigger TVs.
It is important to note that the higher the pixel density, the better the viewing experience. But for every pixel crammed up per inch to increase the resolution, the phone or TV will need more energy to power the many pixels. The increased pixels also mean that the gadget will need a more powerful processor and memory to feed each pixel with required information or else the phone will be very sluggish. Powering a 4K phone means using expensive resources that will in turn make the the phone costly to acquire.
Given that phones with very high resolutions like 560ppi and 4K (at 5 inches 4K phone will have a ppi of about 926), will push demand for better batteries and high level CPUs and GPUs, do we as humans really need them? That is, would we ordinarily notice the difference between a 300ppi and a 926ppi in terms of image clarity and sharpness?
Although the actual resolutions (specifically pixel density) that the human eye discerns (above which the eye won’t notice any difference in detail) is debatable, a number of people think that pixel density at 300ppi is the optimum for natural discernment of reality. That is densities above the 300ppi should be treated as “luxurious” and nothing more.
The question therefore is, is Samsung justified to continue pushing the limits of pixel densities on mobile devices yet 300ppi is already good enough? Personally I think the OEMs of phones such as Samsung, Apple, and the rest ought to concentrate on making smartphones smarter by pushing the limits on what phones can do. They should invest in researching for smartphone’s functions, increase battery life to over one week, and improve on security and durability. I would prefer a smartphone that doesn’t break, is water proof, and remembers to wake me up just because it heard me say that I’d prefer to wake up at 4am without setting the alarm.