updated 05:58 am EDT, Fri May 11, 2012
Samsung says PenTile AMOLED displays offer long-life
The launch of Samsung's Galaxy S III was met with a muted reception from some sections of the tech community. While its quad-core Exynos processor has been shown to be very fast, some have criticized its extensive use of plastic materials and some its size. However, one detail in its specifications that probably caused the most consternation is its use of a Super AMOLED PenTile pixel array instead of the Super AMOLED Plus technology found on its predecessor, the Galaxy S II which includes a true RGB array without sharing subpixels.
As Mobile Burn explains, a Super AMOLED PenTile display uses an RGBG (red,green,red,green) layout resulting in more green pixels and fewer red or blue pixels. This also results in a lower actual pixel density than displays advertised resolution may suggest - 'Plus' (RGB) variants also have 50 percent more subpixels. According to Samsung, it opted for the PenTile pixel arrangement on this occasion because it has found that PenTile AMOLED displays have a longer lifespan than its Plus variants, although those are generally the preferred choice for display aficionados.
Samsung's Philip Berne told Mobile Burn that blue pixels degrade faster than the red or green subpixels, though admitted that the use of a PenTile array can make the edges of images, such as app icons, look 'fuzzy.' However, Berne was of the view that the 720p (1280x720) display used on the Galaxy S III has a resolution much higher than the 800x480 WVGA display used the Galaxy S II, significantly reducing any unwanted side-effects of using a PenTile arrangement.
Where that leaves Galaxy S II owners who thought that they had a better quality display is an unknown. The comments by Berne seem reminiscent of the comments that Samsung executives made when the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab debuted, not with and AMOLED display, but a Super-LCD display. Although Samsung had previously sounded the praises of AMOLED technology as being up to 30 percent more power efficient than LCD displays, Samsung defended its choice at the time saying it used an LCD in the Galaxy Tab because it used less power than the AMOLED equivalent. Not mentioned at the time were possible cost considerations.
A further irony is that the first AMOLED tablet on the market, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 uses a 'Plus' variety display using the standard RGB pixel layout. While it is true that the use of different display technologies will have trade-offs, Samsung's use of the both PenTile and Plus displays, and the purported reasons for doing so seem to be in conflict. The reality is that for most users, however, the 'PenTile versus Plus' debate is probably meaningless and will not come into the equation when considering their purchase. What will likely matter more is whether they think the device looks cool or not - which is another debate in itself.