Lately, the Sharp IGZO matrix has been appearing more and more frequently in smartphone specifications. This technology is replacing the classic IPS and TN+film screens, and not only for the expensive top products but for cheap Chinese devices.
For example, Sharp IGZO matrix has the recently released “cheapest flagship” Apollo Lite from Chinese startup Vernee, which costs about 200 USD, or last year even more affordable MEIZU M2 Note.
So we decided to figure out what is better in the end for a smartphone: IGZO or IPS, or maybe Samsung’s much-loved Super AMOLED technology. In general, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this relatively new technology from Sharp compared to the time-tested solutions?
IGZO display: what is it?
Sharp IGZO technology bases, like IPS, on liquid crystals. The name itself stands for Indium gallium zinc oxide. This semiconductor material is a good substitute for amorphous silicon, which uses for classic LCD screens.
The main advantage of the new technology is the ability to create inexpensive high-definition screens up to 4K UltraHD. Back in 2014, Sharp unveiled an IGZO display at the IFA in Berlin with a pixel density of 736 ppi: 2560×1600 dots (WQXGA) at a diagonal of 4.1 inches.
In April last year, we showed 5.5 inches screen made on this technology with a resolution of 2160×3840 pixels (density of 806 dpi). However, Sony, creating in the same year the first smartphone with a 4K UltraHD screen (Xperia Z5 Premium), gave preference to the good old IPS matrix.
IGZO vs IPS: which is better?
If we compare IGZO matrices and more “traditional” IPS matrices, the use of alternative semiconductor material allows for more sensitivity to touch and generally accurate touch screens.
Sharp technology also enables to reduce the matrix response time and the pixel size. True, the latter is not a limitation for IPS and even TN+film.
In terms of color reproduction, IGZO screens do not have any distinct advantages, although some experts note that the images on them look more “colorful” approaching the AMOLED matrix, however, the naturalness of color reproduction is not lost.
Moreover, the Sharp IGZO matrix is thinner and more transparent. This factor makes it possible to make brighter screens and at the same time to reduce battery consumption since less backlighting is required.
Another advantage of IGZO matrices is the relative simplicity and cheapness of the technology, due to which they have become increasingly common among Chinese smartphones. True, we are often talking about matrices with a low pixel density (FullHD 1920×1080 at a diagonal of 5.5 inches).
A little history
IGZO technology owes its appearance to the development of a Japanese professor Hideo Hosono, who worked at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In the mid-1990s, he synthesized transistors from a compound semiconductor material, which was just an oxide of indium, gallium, and zinc.
In the autumn of 2012, the new screen technology made its debut at the IFA exhibition in Berlin where Sharp showed the first screens and prototypes of devices based on them. However, at that time they were displays for TVs, monitors, notebooks, and tablets.
Later matrices for smartphones introduces, with the IGZO displays decreasing in size and increasing in pixel density year by year. The first smartphone with such a screen was initially presented at the end of 2012; we are talking about a model from the Sharp called Aquos SH930W.
It is worth noting that Sharp Aquos SH930W was the first smartphone with a screen FullHD, which was launched in US. The device had flagship features and had a much “-hiseled” price for those days: $300.
IGZO vs AMOLED
In our opinion, the SuperAMOLED matrix that Samsung uses for most of its products is more preferable for a smartphone. In addition, here is why. Most of the content that you view on the screen, starting with the interface of the mobile OS – drawn.
In addition, on the screen AMOLED and SuperAMOLED any graphic looks much more spectacular than on the IGZO or IPS. The advantage of the latter is noticeable only when viewing photos, but if you do not take sophisticated professionals, the mass consumer will definitely choose AMOLED.