IPS Vs. AMOLED: Which Is the Better Screen for Your Needs?

IPS and AMOLED screens are some of the most popular display technologies in the market. These two display technologies aren’t just engineering jargon. They both represent equipment and devices we interact with in our day-to-day lives, such as smartphones, laptops, tablets,  and monitors.

Have you ever wondered how they compare to each other and which one you should go for? In this guide, we’re going to look at each of the display technologies and seek to understand how they stack up against each other.

What Is the Definition of IPS Display Technology?

IPS is an abbreviation for In-Plane Switching. It’s a variant of a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) technology. If you’ve read about LCD screens before, then you probably know that they use liquid crystals to illuminate light and produce images. 

IPS technology refers to how the liquid crystals are aligned. Unlike the traditional LCD models, such as Vertical Alignment (VA) and Twisted Nematic (TN). The liquid crystals in an IPS screen are arranged in a parallel arrangement called in-plane. This arrangement allows the backlight to pass through them easily. 

When current is applied to the liquid crystals inside an IPS screen, the crystals rotate parallel to allow light to pass through them. This procedure results in a much clearer image on the screen since it reduces the level of interference on the light being illuminated by the screen.

IPS display technology was developed to overcome the limitations of VA and TN LCD screens. Since the liquid crystals can shift horizontally, IPS screens have a wider viewing angle of about 178 degrees both horizontally and vertically.

Besides, IPS screens can produce over 16 million colors, meaning they have better color accuracy compared to their predecessors. They also have faster response times and are easier to view in sunlight compared to other LCD technologies.

For these reasons, IPS is often referred to as “Super TFT”. It also has various variations such as Enhanced IPS (E-IPS), Horizontal IPS (H-IPS), Professional IPS (P-IPS), Advanced High-Performance IPS (AH-IPS), and Plane-to-Line Switching (PLS). 

All these variations are collectively referred to as ‘IPS-type’ panels since their mechanisms are closely related. 

Most of the iPhones and iPads before the iPhone X used IPS screen technology for their superior color reproduction and visibility in sunlight. 

What Is the Definition of AMOLED Display Technology?

AMOLED stands for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. This technology is quite unique since every pixel on the display is illuminated individually. This means that every pixel can be turned on and off.  This feature makes AMOLED displays produce deeper blacks and have high contrast ratios.

AMOLED technology is an improvement to LED and OLED technologies. LED panels use LED technology to produce backlight for an LCD screen. On the other hand, Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) have semiconductors made from organic material that help control the color reproduction and light up every pixel.

AMOLED screens are simply improved OLED displays. Instead of using an organic material between the LED conductors, they use a matrix of active wiring made of transistors to control every single pixel.

AMOLED screens also have an advanced technology known as Super AMOLED displays. Super AMOLED displays feature thinner screens which are more versatile. If you’ve come across screens that can be folded or are curved (think of Samsung), they’re most probably Super AMOLED.

On top of the high contrast ratios and deeper blacks, AMOLED displays are known for low power consumption since they have no backlight. Besides, the pixels are completely switched off when not in use, leading to power-saving.

IPS Vs. AMOLED: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Both IPS and AMOLED displays have unique strengths and weaknesses. When choosing a screen for whichever function, understanding the differences and comparisons will help you make a wise decision.

That said, let’s dive deep into a side-by-side comparison to understand IPS and AMOLED screens better.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Variance

One of the basic comparisons to compare IPS and AMOLED display technologies lies in the technologies behind them. IPS technology is a variant of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). LCD technology is quite older, having been invented in the 1960s and became mainstream in the 2000s. It was a replacement for the Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs), which were the big boxy TVs popular in the 90s.

LCDs need a separate source of backlight to illuminate light to the display. Most LCDs use a fluorescent lamp or LED as a backlight to the liquid crystals which allow or block light to produce an image.

The liquid crystals change their physical orientation to allow light to pass through when aligned and to block light when not aligned.

On the other hand, AMOLED screens are a variant of LED technology that came as an alternative to LCDs. The diodes illuminate when current is applied. The diodes produce three colors, which are red, green, and blue (RGB). When combined, they can display almost all colors on the spectrum.

Please note that while LCD is a type of display, LED is used to refer to a semiconductor that produces light when current passes through it. For this reason, it’s right to say that all LED screens are LCDs, but not all LCD screens use LED technology. Remember, some manufacturers use fluorescent light as a source of backlight for their LCD screens, although LEDs are superior.

Also, some electronic brands will advertise their screens as LED monitors or TVs, while they’re just LCD screens that use LED as a backlight.

LCD screens are often made on smaller scales and are created for indoor usage. On the other hand, LED displays can be made for outdoor usage and larger settings, such as places of worship, shopping malls, and conference venues.

These variance differences form the basis upon which we compare IPS and AMOLED screens.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Refresh Rates

The refresh rate is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for a screen to invest in. It refers to the frequency of image updates on a screen every second. A higher refresh rate means more updates. 

The refresh rate is measured in Hertz (Hz). For example, a screen whose refresh rate is 144Hz means that the screen is updated 144 times each second.

For a better perspective, most movies are produced at 24 frames or images per second. This refresh rate is just enough to get smooth transitions. However, a refresh rate of 24 frames per second is quite low for a laptop or computer monitor. If a laptop screen had a refresh rate of 24Hz, the mouse cursor would appear to be skipping across the screen, instead of gliding smoothly.

The refresh rate for IPS screens varies depending on manufacturer, device, and model. Most IPS screens have a standard rate of 60Hz. However, IPS screens made for gaming or professional applications have higher refresh rates of 120Hz, 144Hz, and even 240Hz. 

Just like IPS screens, the standard refresh rate for AMOLED screens depends on the device, model, and manufacturer. AMOLED screens used on smartphones have a refresh rate of 60Hz, while most recent ones used for more intense applications can go up to 144Hz.

This means that IPS and AMOLED screens are closely similar when compared based on the refresh rate.

Keep in mind that the refresh rate is a performance metric that also determines the price point. A screen with a higher refresh rate will cost considerably more than one with a lower refresh rate.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Contrast Ratio

The contrast ratio is the ratio between the screen’s minimum and maximum brightness. While most displays have contrast settings to increase or reduce brightness, the contrast ratio simply represents the screen’s limitations. 

Generally, the higher the contrast ratio, the better. A screen with a 10,000:1 contrast ratio will produce deeper blacks and make an image look more natural than a screen with a 1,000:1 contrast ratio.

That said, AMOLED screens triumph over IPS panels when it comes to contrast ratios. This can be attributed to AMOLED screens’ working mechanism where each pixel is individually illuminated. Pixels that aren’t needed are switched off, resulting in more natural and deeper blacks.

On top of that, the whites produced by AMOLED screens are brighter and more natural since LCD screens including IPS panels produce whites with some slight blue colors due to the backlight mechanism. Remember, LCD panels have a different source of backlight that’s always on. Because of the backlight, IPS panels can’t produce blacks that are deeper and more natural like AMOLED displays.

Some IPS panels are capable of producing brighter whites without hints of blue colors and some AMOLED screens produce whites with blue hints. However, these inconsistencies are mainly dependent on hardware specifications from different manufacturers.

Even then, IPS and other LCD technologies are unable to match up to the level of deep blacks produced by OLED and AMOLED screens.

Technically, AMOLED displays have a standard contrast ratio of about 100,000:1, with advanced dynamic AMOLED screens going up to a mindblowing 2,000,000:1. IPS panels, on the other hand, are only capable of up to 10,000:1 contrast ratio.

This makes AMOLED screens more suitable for viewing images or watching videos and movies since they produce a more realistic image and offer a more immersive experience.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Color Accuracy

Color accuracy refers to a screen’s ability to reproduce shades and colors accurately as intended. A color-accurate screen or monitor reproduces images and pictures well and makes them life-like. Color accuracy is an important feature. 

While your screen can be 4K, if doesn’t reproduce colors accurately, images won’t appear the way they’re supposed to. Besides, color inaccuracy can take the audience’s attention away from the screen and make the viewing experience unenjoyable.

Let’s go back to the technology behind the AMOLED screens. Each pixel is illuminated independently. If an image has some black areas, those pixels are simply switched off. This attribute makes AMOLED screens have deeper blacks. As such, AMOLED screens can produce vibrant and saturated colors with higher contrast and deeper blacks. 

On the other hand, while IPS screens are also more accurate when it comes to natural colors, remember they have a backlight. They may have brighter whites, but their blacks aren’t as deep as the blacks on AMOLED displays. 

This means that AMOLED displays are superior when it comes to color accuracy.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Viewing Angles

The viewing angle is the maximum distance at which you can view a display while maintaining acceptable image quality. Technically, the viewing angle is referred to as the viewing cone. All monitors will show you a perfect picture when you’re at the center of the panel. However, things can dramatically change should you change your position sideways or even up and down.

Many LCD screens often experience color shifting or brightness issues when viewed from a wide angle. But this isn’t the case with IPS screens. Monitors with IPS screen technology have an ultrawide viewing angle of 178 degrees both horizontally and vertically. This means you can get a clear view from almost all angles.

Similarly, AMOLED screens have a viewing angle of 178 degrees, meaning you can enjoy stunning image views from anywhere.

This means that IPS and AMOLED displays are closely similar when it comes to viewing angles. Colors and pictures remain the same when on an IPS or AMOLED display when viewed from different angles.

These two screens also make great options for shared viewing. If you have guests over and you want to watch a movie or play a game on one screen, both IPS and AMOLED screens will serve you well. 

It’s important to note that IPS screens are still at risk of slight color shifts, especially for the low-end IPS displays. While the difference is often considered negligible, a side-by-side comparison may reveal AMOLED displays as the superior technology.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Energy Efficiency

Power consumption and energy efficiency are other important factors to consider since they determine how long the device’s battery lasts and other indirect costs, such as energy bills. Besides, the world is increasingly leaning towards energy efficiency and eco-friendly devices.

AMOLED screens are known for their energy-saving capabilities and low power consumption. This stems from the fact that each pixel is powered individually and that the pixels don’t produce much heat. When not in use, the pixel has no current running through it. This feature can be extremely useful in saving power, especially when watching movies or viewing images with predominant dark themes.

On the other hand, In-Plane Switching panels experience constant power consumption regardless of the image or video being displayed. The backlight is always on even when presenting darker colors.

IPS technology has been undergoing some advancements and improvements to develop more energy-efficient sources of backlight. For example, some use LED-based systems. However, they still can’t measure up to AMOLED screens’ power efficiency.

Keep in mind that the power consumption is dependent on use cases. Images or videos with more bright colors will consume an average of 0.7 watts while those with more dark and black colors consume around 0.3 watts. On the other hand, IPS displays will consume 0.35 watts regardless of the image or application.

Due to their power-saving nature, AMOLED screens are an ideal choice for applications where battery life is a concern. This includes smartphone and smartwatch applications. Users can engage in various activities, such as watching videos and browsing social media channels without worrying about a fast-draining battery.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Outdoor Visibility

Many screens will be consistent and won’t present much difference when used indoors and in mild conditions. Both AMOLED and IPS panels present moderate brightness and great color accuracy when used indoors or under ambient lighting. However, outdoor visibility under sunlight makes IPS screens superior.

This is due to the fact that IPS panels have a different source of backlight from fluorescent or LED lighting that’s always on. The high brightness level from the backlight makes the screen usable outdoors and under high surrounding light.

AMOLED screens have poor outdoor visibility. They don’t have a backlight since they rely on self-illuminating diodes. Some AMOLED displays become barely visible under outdoor conditions and extreme surrounding light.

AMOLED manufacturers have been making improvements to the technology to boost screen brightness and usability under sunlight. For example, screens using Super AMOLED technology have demonstrated boosted brightness levels and improved visibility under sunlight.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Applications

The uniqueness and mechanisms behind IPS and AMOLED screens make their applications and uses different. Let’s look at applications for the two screen technologies individually:

IPS Panels Applications

Due to their wide viewing angles and good outdoor visibility, IPS monitors are used in diverse industries. Common applications of IPS panels include:

  • Smartphones– Many smartphones in the market use IPS panels. IPS technology assures users of decent color reproduction and visibility even when using the phone in direct sunlight. They also work well for users who prioritize wider viewing angles.
  • Laptops & Tablets– IPS panels are common in laptops and tablets used for various applications. They’re especially important for entertainment, content creation, graphic design, coding, and gaming for leisure. 
  • Televisions– Some TV displays use IPS technology, offering better viewing angles compared to other LCD technologies. This can be crucial in living rooms and other setups where you have many people watching from different angles.
  • Gaming Monitors– While gaming isn’t their stronghold, IPS monitors perform decently when it comes to gaming. They strike a great balance between response times and color reproduction. This makes them a popular choice for gamers who prioritize picture quality.
  • Medical Displays– Medical and healthcare monitors use IPS technology as they need color accuracy and image quality for correct diagnosis.

AMOLED Display Applications

AMOLED screens’ features and advantages have made them suitable for diverse industrial and consumer applications. Let’s break down some of AMOLED display’s applications in various industries:

Automotive Industry

AMOLED’s wide viewing angles, fast response times, high contrast ratios, and slim build make them ideal for modern automotive applications. Besides, most car manufacturers are making use of high-end AMOLED screens to ensure the displays are visible under direct sunlight. 

Applications of AMOLED screens in the automotive sector include heads-up and dashboard displays, infotainment touchscreens, exterior and interior lighting, and digital rear-view mirrors.

As cars become more automated and dependent on user interfaces, AMOLED displays can provide the technology needed to keep drivers engaged and informed.

Medical Industry

Hospitals and healthcare institutions rely on precision and accuracy. AMOLED displays provide high-resolution displays with superb quality. The great contrast ratios in AMOLED screens help medical professionals not miss any details in X-rays and scans.

Multiple doctors, nurses, and radiographers can seamlessly collaborate due to the wide viewing angles. 

Military & Marine Industry

AMOLED displays provide high contrast and resolution, making them perfect for avionic control panels, night-vision glasses and screens, and heads-up displays for military vehicles. Due to their slim and lightweight build, they can easily be integrated into combat uniforms.

In the marine world, AMOLED screens provide display solutions in yacht entertainment systems, fish finders, and navigation systems. The wide viewing angles help the captains and everyone on board to view the screen or read data from any point. Manufacturers can also use proper sealants to make the screens water-resistant.

Advertising & Marketing Industry

Advertising firms are now using AMOLED screens to get people’s attention and market their clients’ products and services. You can find AMOLED displays on digital billboards, retail displays, and wayfinding signage.

Home Appliances

Many modern home appliances are now coming with interactive user interfaces. Modern refrigerators, ovens, washing machines, and smart homes HVAC systems use vibrant AMOLED displays.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Durability & Longevity

Assessing a screen’s longevity and durability is just as important as evaluating its visual quality and performance. This is one area where In-Place Switching technology triumphs over AMOLED displays. 

This can be attributed to a phenomenon called screen burn-in. Screen burn-in also referred to as ghost image, image burn-in, or shadow image is the discoloration of colors or lighting on parts of a screen panel. Burn-in leaves a visible mark on the screen that remains even when you switch the screen off or watch something else.

AMOLED screens suffer from burn-in and discoloration over their lifetime, since the organic material used in their panels degrades with time. While it may not make the screen unusable, it can affect your viewing experience, especially in parts of the screen that often display static images, such as status bars and navigation buttons.

AMOLED panels used on smartphones can last up to three years before the user begins experiencing signs of degradation. Besides, pixels that produce the color blue fade faster than those that produce green and red. This results in color shifts and reduced brightness.

On the other hand, while IPS panels can also suffer from dead pixels, they’re generally more resilient and durable. Since they rely on a backlight, they reduce the chances of permanent image retention. This makes them more suitable for applications that often display static images for extended periods, such as digital signage and control panels.

IPS panels are also more robust due to their build nature, which involves a backlight and multiple layers. This provides a certain degree of protection from pressure and impact. This is beneficial for applications with rough handling, such as industrial screens and children’s tablets.

A high-quality IPS screen can last up to 10 years without presenting any prominent signs of degradation.

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Cost

IPS screens are cheaper to manufacture since the technology has been around longer. AMOLED screens are pricier, especially for larger screens or high-end ones with cutting-edge technology. On a side-by-side comparison, the price of an AMOLED screen may end up double that of an IPS panel.

For example, high-end Android smartphones use AMOLED displays while low-end and mid-range ones use IPS panels to cut costs. 

IPS: Vs. AMOLED: Which One Should You Choose?

Now that we’ve looked at the unique advantages and potential downsides of both IPS and AMOLED screens, which one should you choose if you’re in the market for a screen? Settling for one can prove to be a difficult decision since they have their strengths and weaknesses.

AMOLED screens can be a perfect choice if you’re in the entertainment industry. This includes photographers, video editors, and professional gamers. They have deeper blacks, superb color accuracy, wide viewing angles, and are energy efficient.

If you’re a professional gamer, AMOLED screens may also suit you since they have fast reaction times. This makes them ideal for fast-paced gaming.

However, you can simply ignore that AMOLED displays won’t last you as long as IPS screens. They’re also not the best screens for outdoor usage and they’re costlier. It might make more sense to invest in an IPS screen if low cost, durability, and outdoor usage are your priorities.

As you can see, it all boils down to your personal preferences and priorities. Only you can determine the best screen for you based on your needs

Conclusion

Both IPS and AMOLED screen technologies offer high-quality images and vibrant colors. However, they both have unique benefits and downsides that have a huge impact on user experience. It’s up to you to go through them and decide which one works for you.

Keep in mind that working with industry experts will be helpful when making a big decision. Consult with NSE LED today to choose the best screen for your needs.

FAQs

Is AMOLED Burn-In Reversible?

No. AMOLED screen burn-in is permanent. It doesn’t go away even if you navigate the menu, watch something different, or completely switch off the screen. However, newer devices with AMOLED screens have burn-in prevention features.

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