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Samsung, Apple trade jabs over displays

Apple and Samsung Electronics are engaged in a war of words over displays used in their newest smartphones, with the two sides claiming superiority.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs challenged display king Samsung on Monday, touting the “Retina display” used in Apple’s latest iPhone, and supposedly made by Samsung’s archrival LG Display, at its developers’ conference. Jobs said the Retina display is much better than the AM-OLED display, which is used in Samsung’s newly-launched Galaxy S smartphone, citing its higher resolution.

Samsung, the world’s No. 1 display maker, hit back at Apple on Tuesday, saying the much-hyped Retina display consumes around 30 percent more battery power than the “super AM-OLED” display first used in Galaxy S.

A spokesperson for Samsung Mobile Display said that the Retina display offers higher resolution than super AM OLED, but insisted the difference is small. Samsung Mobile Display is a mobile display joint venture between Samsung Electronics and Samsung SDI, and the world’s dominant maker of AM-OLED displays.

“The visibility difference is only 3 to 5 percent. But raising resolution to that level increases battery consumption by 30 percent,” he told The Korea Herald. 

                Samsung’s Galaxy S                                           Apple’s iPhone 4
                Samsung’s Galaxy S                                           Apple’s iPhone 4
The iPhone 4G has a resolution of 960×640, four times higher than its predecessor iPhone 3GS, while the Galaxy S’s resolution is 800×480. Samsung launched Galaxy S in Seoul on Tuesday, eight hours after Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPhone at its developers’ conference in San Francisco.

Jobs praised the IPS LCD technology used in Retina displays for “much more accurate color, and much higher resolution” than AM-OLED displays.

“You can‘t make an OLED display with this type of resolution right now.” Jobs said at the event.

"Retina display is going to set the standard for displays for the next several years. We don’t think anybody’s going to come close,” he said.

However, the Samsung spokesperson said there are several factors other than resolution that determine a picture quality, and AM-OLED display outdoes Retina LCD in those criteria including contrast ratio, color reproduction, and response time.

“Structurally, IPS LCD technology cannot catch up with AM-OLED display technology," he said.

An AM-OLED display -- active matrix organic light emitting diode display -- is called a next-generation display, and unlike a traditional LCD, an AM-OLED display does not need backlights because it emits light itself when electricity is applied. An AM-OLED display features a thinner screen with clearer images and consumes less power than conventional screens.

The LCD based on IPS (in-plane switching) technology boasts a wide viewing angle of 80 percent, but AM-OLED offers a “free” viewing angle.

An LG Display spokesperson declined to comment.

Before the new iPhone announcement, speculation was that the newest iPhone may be equipped with the AM-OLED screen, which is mainly used in high-end mobile phones.

The spokesperson said Apple may have not used the OLED because of a supply shortage, and its partnership with LG Display, which does not produce AM-OLED displays. He also said Apple did not approach the company for the possible supply of AM OLED displays.

"Currently, output fails to catch up with demand," he said.

Jobs acknowledged the importance of displays in mobile devices, as more people use phones not only to make calls and send text-messages, but to browse the web and view multimedia content. Display is one of the most expensive parts in the iPhone.

”The display is your window into the internet, into your apps, into your media, into your software,“ he said at the developer’s conference.

"We think it is the most important single component of the hardware," he said, calling its Retina display “the best window on the planet.”

By Jin Hyun-joo  (
Korea Herald Youtube