Simple questions: What is an AMOLED screen? What does AMOLED mean?

AMOLED is a display technology that is used on many screens. Most of them are usually found on smartphones, so if you have been looking for a smartphone, from brands like Samsung or Google Pixel, you might have stumbled on some that brag about having AMOLED displays. Do you know what AMOLED stands for and what it is? If you want to know the answer and see why AMOLED is both good and bad, read on:

What does AMOLED screen mean?

AMOLED is a type of OLED display and an acronym for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diodes. The OLED part means that the display uses LEDs and an organic compound made of carbon and other substances to light up and display colors. The AM part of AMOLED, which comes from Active Matrix, represents the electronic implementation behind the screen.

A Google Pixel 3 smartphone with an AMOLED display

What is the difference between OLED and AMOLED?

OLED screens can use two types of electronics to control the pictures they display: PMOLED and AMOLED. Thus, there is no difference between OLED and AMOLED, as AMOLED is an OLED display.

There are differences, however, between PMOLED and AMOLED. PMOLED comes from Passive Matrix OLED, and it is an electronics implementation that does not have a storage capacitor. AMOLED, as we already know, stands for Active Matrix OLED and its electronics driver has a storage capacitor.

Is AMOLED better than LCD?

Some people think that AMOLED is better than LCD, while others argue about the opposite. However, there are pros and cons to both these display technologies:

  1. AMOLED displays can light up or turn off each of their pixels independently, and that means that they can offer much better and more natural colors than LCD screens. LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens do not light up their pixels independently: they use a backlight and a panel of pixels that actually block the white light behind them to make colors. This technology cannot offer the same natural colors as AMOLED can.
  2. Also because of the different way they display colors, AMOLED and LCD screens are not the same when it comes to the level of brightness they can offer. Each of the pixels on an AMOLED display has its own tiny light source, while LCD have backlights that are usually provided by lamps behind the display. Thus, LCD screens tend to offer higher brightness levels than AMOLED displays.
  3. Another consequence of the way AMOLED and LCD screens light their pixels, is that AMOLED offers true blacks (by turning off pixels independently), while LCD offers cleaner whites (because it has a stronger backlight).
  4. When talking about the use of AMOLED or LCD on a screen powered by a battery, power consumption is an issue. Because AMOLED can completely turn off pixels independently, you might assume that it is more power efficient than LCD. However, that depends on how you use your device. AMOLED displays need less power than LCD screens when the images they display do not have much white but consume more power when they display a lot of white. When there are lots of bright colors to be displayed, AMOLED needs more power to turn on its pixels. On the other hand, LCDs need the same constant amount of power regardless of the type of images they display, because their backlight is always on.
  5. AMOLED screens have an organic component in their pixels, while LCDs do not. That means that the lifespan of AMOLED screens tends to be lower than that of LCDs.
  6. Because OLED technology is pricey, AMOLED displays are more expensive to manufacture than LCDs.
AMOLED versus LCD screen

Image source: Wikipedia

AMOLED vs. IPS LCD

IPS LCD stands for In-Plane Switching Liquid Crystal Display, and it is an improvement of the LCD technology. IPS LCD offers more brightness, contrast, and colors that look more natural than a traditional TN (Twisted Nematic) LCD screen, as well as much broader viewing angles. However, all the pros and cons we talked about in the previous section from this article still apply. There is no clear winner when it comes to AMOLED vs. IPS LCD, as both technologies have their strengths and weaknesses.

The benefits of AMOLED

The main benefits of AMOLED are the pure blacks, bright colors and strong contrast ratio that this type of screens can give you. If you want all that, you should look into buying devices with AMOLED screens.

Do you want your devices to use AMOLED displays?

Now you know what AMOLED stands for and why it is a great technology. You also know why nobody can say that it is the best display technology and why other display technologies such as IPS LCD compete with it. Do you want the true blacks and bright colors offered by AMOLED? Or do you prefer the cheaper LCD? Share your thoughts in the comments below.