The world of Smartphone Display Resolutions!

You might hear these terms lying the ground on smartphone spec sheets: qHD, HD+, FHD, QHD, WQHD/WQHD+ and so on. We already discussed on different types of AMOLEDs on the market, but now we are going to discuss the world of smartphone display resolutions.


Realme Narzo 30A comes with an HD+ display
Interlaced vs Progressive Scanning, courtesy of Synopi

The term “HD+” is applied to any screen with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels. On phones, they are 720p (the “p” meaning “progressive” scanning) or 720i (“i” for “interlaced”). The difference between the “p” and the “i” is the way they scan individual frames. Progressive Scanning scans video frames’ odd and even scanlines at the same time resulting in a slower processing time but also a higher quality video.. On the other hand, Interlaced Scanning scans odd and even scanlines individually. It has a faster processing speed but video quality degrades. Interlaced is still used on television broadcasting due to cost-effectiveness.

Progressive scanning is used on videography and on smartphones because they provide higher quality video and does not degrade

An example of a phone with HD+ resolution is the Realme Narzo 30A. The lower resolution meant that the processor is less stressed, therefore less heat and saves battery than those with higher resolutions, which is why we often see HD+ on budget phones, or phones with weaker processors and/or lower capacity RAM


Realme 8 5G with 90Hz FHD+ IPS LCD

FHD (Full High Definition) refers to any display with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. FHD+ is the same thing although, has a slightly higher resolution of 2220×1080 pixels.

This resolution is the most common one seen on midrange phones (including some budget ones like Redmi 9T or Cherry Mobile Aqua S9 Max) as well as laptop screens and television sets. Although higher in resolution than HD+, they both use a 16:9 aspect ratio (16 pixels each horizontally, and 9 vertically). Though it does not necessarily mean “widescreen” as phones held on portrait, are, well, on portrait.


The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a WQHD panel

Tech companies have been hungry for improving many things, including the display. These of course also includes smartphones. However, to an untrained eye (even those with perfect vision) there is barely any difference between FHD and QHD. However, the more pixels, the more detail, and the more realistic graphics get, and the differences can be drastic when using a VR (virtual reality) headset.

QHD (Quad High Definition) refers to any display with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels, and is synonymous to 1440p or 1440i. The W in “WQHD” means Wide Quad High Definition to define a wider aspect ratio. Like all HD displays, QHD come with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

You may also hear it being referred to as 2K display. They are referred to any display with a resolution higher than 2048×1080 pixels

4K Display

Sony Xperia One Mark III with 4K HDR display

4K displays are the latest trend in the display resolution race (this does not even include the even higher 8K displays we’ve seen on very expensive and large TVs). 4K displays are used in professional video productions as well as digital cinematography. These displays have a resolution of 4096×2160 pixels.

It is often confused with UHD (Ultra High Definition) which offer a similar resolution. UHD has a lower resolution and is used on consumer items and is a broadcasting standard. UHD has a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels and is four times higher than FHD.

However, no need to fret, display and television companies use the terms UHD and 4K interchangeably and both have a pixel width of 2160. So, both are technically 2160p. To avoid confusion, most would rather use the UHD moniker than 4K for consumer-grade appliances and gadgets.

Remember that higher resolutions will eat up more battery and require more processing power because of how many pixels there are in a display.


Blue Studio 5.3 S, with qHD display

The qHD display (small “q”) should not be confused with the larger and better QHD (with a capital “Q”) display. qHD stands for (“Quarter High Definition“) which, as the name suggests, is a quarter of Full HD resolutions. qHD has a resolution of 960×540 pixels, which is 1/4th of FHD. (1920×1080 pixels).

As higher definitions become normalised (like HD+), qHD sees less the light of day in today’s handsets and handheld consoles. One example that used this resolution is the PS Vita. qHD is not extinct though, it is still found on very cheap handsets with very small screen sizes.

We hope that we made it clear for you the differences between each resolution. We will discuss Pixel-per-inch calculation as well as Screen Sizes in the next article!