AMOLED… It’s one of two displays commonly used on smartphones, the other being IPS LCD. AMOLED is an acronym for Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode.
The Active Matrix in the display refer to the use of a TFT (thin-film-transistor) and a capacitor to attach themselves to the Red, Green and Blue lighting.
The Organic part of the display refers to the fact that AMOLED displays use organic materials that are placed between two conductors in each diode
The LED part of the display refers to the Red, Green and Blue lights that are arranged in clusters to create a single pixel.
So there you have it, the simple explanation of what AMOLED is and how it functions. Basically, it uses organic materials placed between a TFT to create light and a single pixel.
But… you may have heard terms like POLED, SAMOLED, and recently, Fluid AMOLED that was used by OnePlus in their OnePlus 7 Pro. What are these and how are they different to the “common” AMOLED?
Let’s start with SAMOLED
SAMOLED, or Super AMOLED, is a marketing term by Samsung to refer to their AMOLED displays; similar to how Apple calls their AMOLED display “Super Retina Display”. According to Samsung, instead of having a layer that recognises the touch on top of the screen, this layer is integrated within the screen itself.
According to their website SAMOLED has a contrast ratio of 100,000:1, making their displays have high contrast ratios and adjust to any environment to any viewing angle.
SAMOLED also has a lot of synonymous terms, including Full HD SAMOLED, SAMOLED Advanced and SAMOLED Plus. These are just minor upgrades to the SAMOLED with better contrast, colour accuracy and/or viewing angles and does not actually improve AMOLED performance.
P-OLED (Plastic OLED) uses a Plastic Substrate rather than glass. The use of plastic gives it more flexibility to form into other shapes, and that plastic is much more cost-effective than glass.
Multiple types of plastics have been tried on P-OLED. Ranging from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyethylene naphthalate (PEN). However, this depends on the type of TFT technology used, as companies would need to either lower down the manufacturing temperature of the display, or use stronger plastics that could withstand hot temperatures.
The most prominent manufacturer of P-OLED is LG, and is almost always used on their high end or flagship devices, such as the LG V60 Thinq.
However, Samsung also seems to use plastic for their SAMOLED displays in order to curve them, it’s just that Samsung still refers to it as SAMOLED, while LG prefers to it as P-OLED
Super Retina Display
You may have heard of the term “Retina Display” whenever Apple advertises their phones. Now, did you observe that no one else uses the term? That is because the term “Retina” is exclusive for iPhones.
Last September 2012, Apple trademark the term “Retina” when referring to displays. That means “Retina Display” is a brand name from Apple to refer to their displays.
Super Retina displays are the same concept, except that they are AMOLED instead of IPS LCD. The current iteration of the iPhone uses what Apple calls “Super Retina XDR”, which has high dynamic range.
A new challenger approaches! The challenger goes by the name Fluid AMOLED.
Fluid AMOLED is a marketing term made by OnePlus to refer to their QHD display found on the OnePlus 7 Pro. This display also has 90hz refresh rate and is only found on the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Essentially, it is a modified version of SAMOLED with sprinkles and sparkles all over it.
Recently, the Fluid Display makes its second appearance, on the OnePlus 9 series. It is more or less the same thing as the OnePlus 7 Pro except that the refresh rate is 120Hz and is based on LTPO instead of LTPS, which means, the refresh rates adjust based on your touches on the display.