TFT Vs Amoled: Choosing the Best Screen Technology for Your Needs?

TFT and Amoled are two of the most popular screen technologies. They are both different varieties of screen display technologies.

But they’re both different when it comes to their basic principles. In this guide, we’re going to look at both technologies, their pros, and cons, and compare them based on different metrics.

TFT Screens

What Is TFT Display Technology?

Thin Film Transistor (TFT) is a type of display technology used in Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) displays. It’s used to improve the quality of LCD displays since they’re made of large sheets of transistors. Each pixel consists of four transistors, with each transistor being individually illuminated. 

LCDs with TFT technology are often referred to as active matrix screens since all transistors are independently controlled. Before the TFT mechanism was invented, there were passive matrix LCDs that were only used on devices with monochrome displays.

It’s important to keep in mind that TFT isn’t the screen or display itself, but the mechanism or technology behind the TFT LCD. Liquid crystal material is placed between glass plates to form a sandwich-like structure.

When the electrode in the liquid crystal material is activated, it activates the colors to form pixels.

As for the four transistors in each pixel, three are used for the basic colors, which are red, green, and blue (RGB). The fourth transistor is used for brightness.

This mechanism has helped TFT LCDs provide the best resolution of all available flat-screen technologies.

What Is Amoled Display Technology?

AMOLED is an acronym for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. To understand AMOLED display technology, you have first to understand LED and OLED technologies. 

Conventional LED displays use interior white LEDs as a backlight to illuminate an LCD panel that produces colors or dims the light to control the display on the screen. In short, what you see on an LED display depends on the LED’s brightness and the LCD panel’s ability to influence light. 

OLED displays exert current on a semiconductor to produce light. The semiconductors are organic materials that work in a small range to illuminate each pixel and control color. The pixel-by-pixel illumination means that each pixel can be made brighter or darker (or absent by turning fully black). Due to this mechanism, OLED displays produce excellent light and great contrast ratios without the need for an LCD panel.

AMOLED displays improve on OLED technology for monitors, laptops, and TV screens. They have a TFT layer that controls the light being produced by the OLED. As we have seen, TFTs are also referred to as Active Matrix since each pixel has a transistor that controls the current. As such, TFT accounts for the AM in AMOLED.

AMOLED screens have four different layers- anode, organic middle, cathode, and substrate layers. The anode layer, also known as a layer of a positive pole, forms an electron hole that dumps electrons when current is applied. The organic layer consists of organic molecules or polymers which activate each pixel directly. The circuit stimulates this layer to deliver current to both anode and cathode materials.

As for the cathode layer, it’s either transparent or opaque. When electrified, this layer injects electrons. The substrate layer, which is the bottom layer is the base for OLED screens. It can be made up of foil, plastic, or glass, and it contains an integrated circuit.

TFT Vs. Amoled: A Side-by-Side Comparative Analysis

Now that we understand what these two display technologies are, let’s dive deep into comparative differences so you can tell them apart and make an educated choice 

TFT Vs. Amoled: Variant

TFT displays are a variant of Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) while AMOLED screens are a variant of Light Emitting Diodes (LED).

LCDs replaced the traditional Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) displays. Do you remember 20th-century TVs with curved screens that appeared thick and elongated backs? They used CRT technology. LCDs use a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) to produce high-quality images. Their display grids use either active or passive matrix.

Liquid Crystal Displays are mostly used on cell phones, computer monitors, TVs, video cameras, tablets, laptops, instrument panels, and calculators. 

On the other hand, LED is a more recent display technology that came after LCD. It uses an array of light-emitting diodes as pixels. The diodes produce light when current is applied. Due to this mechanism, LED screens are great for outdoor displays, since the presentation is clear even in the sun. 

TFT displays aren’t great for outdoor applications since they have apparent glass panels. The glass panels display glare from natural lighting.

LED technology is used on digital watches, calculators, computers, aviation lighting, outdoor signage, billboards, lamps, car headlights, and street lights.

TFT Vs. Amoled: Backlight

Displays that use TFT technology don’t produce a backlight for themselves. They use fluorescent lighting to light the crystal solution which in turn projects images on the screen. The crystal solution allows or blocks the lighting from passing through. 

Traditionally screens with TFT technology have used cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) to produce backlight. However, newer technologies such as LED and electroluminescent panels (ELPs) have replaced CCFL as a backlight source.

On the other hand, AMOLED displays produce their own backlight. They’re self-illuminating and don’t require a separate source of backlight. AMOLED screens can either produce light from the back (direct-lit displays) or from the edges of the screen (edge-lit display). In the latter, the screen uses a light guide plate to direct the light toward the center of the screen and ensure it’s distributed evenly.

TFT Vs. Amoled: Refresh Rate

Refresh rate is the number of times every second that the screen can produce a different image. We use milliseconds (Ms) to measure the time between these updates and use hertz (Hz) to measure the refresh rate.

For example, if your screen has a refresh rate of 60Hz, it means that the display is able to display a new image 60 times per second. As such, the higher the refresh rate, the smoother the screen is to the human eye. A screen that updates itself 144 times per second will appear more natural, more responsive, and smoother than one that refreshes 60 times per second.

Now that we’ve understood the basics, which display has a better refresh rate between TFT and AMOLED?

Screens with the TFT mechanism have an optimal refresh rate of around 50-60Hz. On the other hand, AMOLED displays have a significantly higher refresh rate that can go up to 144Hz, meaning they can display images faster and more smoothly.

For this reason, AMOLED screens are a better option for users who need a higher-performance monitor with minimal lag and ghosting issues. These include gamers who need a screen for action games that heavily rely on fast reaction time.

TFT Vs. Amoled: Energy Efficiency

The level of energy efficiency and power consumption between screens with TFT technology and AMOLED screens depends on various factors, such as screen brightness, screen size, screen quality, and power-saving settings used on the screen. 

For example, bigger screens with higher resolutions tend to consume more power. In the same breath, monitors that display heavy-motion animations or games will consume more power than screens displaying still pictures. Also, using screens with more brightness will consume more power.

Remember, TFT displays need a separate source of backlight. Due to this, they consume more power. Besides, the backlight on a TFT is always on. Even then, the rate of power consumption depends on the source of the backlight used. TFT screens with the older CCFL backlighting consume more power than modern ones with LED backlight.

On the other hand, AMOLED screens are more energy efficient due to their illumination mechanism. The pixels on the screens only light up when they need to. They use considerably less energy to display the same image as TFT screens.

TFT Vs. Amoled: Viewing Angle

The viewing angle refers to the maximum distance a user can view a display without compromising visibility or clarity. As long as the user is within this maximum distance, the display remains at optimum brightness and contrast, and without blurs. 

In essence, TFT screens have a narrower viewing angle in comparison to AMOLED displays. Their viewing angles are out of proportion and manufacturers have to struggle with retaining the RGB level for the image while reducing the change rate of saturation and hue regardless of the angle of view.

Due to the narrow viewing angle and low contrast ratio nature, TFT screens often appear less vibrant. Besides, they’re difficult to see when the user wants to view from off-center angles.

On the other hand, AMOLED displays have wide viewing angles that can go as wide as 160 degrees without image quality distortion. The brightness and colors remain consistent for users within a 160-degree angle. 

This makes AMOLED screens superior when it comes to applications that require a number of users seated or standing horizontally, such as multiplayer games. 

TFT Vs. Amoled: Image Quality

We use different metrics, such as contrast ratio, color accuracy, resolution, and viewing angle, to evaluate the quality of a picture on a screen. TFT LCD screens produce pictures of good quality, though not as great. Besides, the quality of pictures displayed on a TFT screen is greatly distorted when viewed at vertical angles.

On the other hand, AMOLED screens are superior when it comes to picture quality. They outperform TFT displays in most of the mentioned metrics. For example, AMOLED provides better RGB color accuracy since every pixel on the screen produces its light, whereas TFT displays depend on the backlight. AMOLED screens end up with more vibrant colors and rich saturation.

When it comes to contrast ratio, AMOLED screens also outperform TFT screens. For starters, the contrast ratio is the difference between the screen’s darkest black and the brightest light. Remember, AMOLED displays don’t need a backlight. Pixels that need to display the black parts of an image are simply powered off. This means that the black portions can get as dark as needed, providing a better contrast ratio.

Generally, AMOLED screens offer a wider color gamut, providing users with realistic images and ensuring minimal color distortion.

TFT Vs. Amoled: Durability and Longevity

When purchasing a screen, whether as a TV, for gaming, or a workstation, it’s important to consider how long you’ll use the screen with minimal maintenance or repairs. 

While manufacturers may provide an average lifespan of a screen, its longevity depends on factors such as temperature, dust, and humidity, that may shorten or extend the lifespan. The usage of the screen for light or heavy applications also makes a difference. For example, if a screen is used for heavy gaming for 24 hours a day, it might not last as long as a screen used for light work and occasional gaming.

When it comes to durability and longevity, TFT displays take the mantle. They have a longer lifespan as they barely have any moving parts that wear and tear over time. LCD screens that use TFT technology have an average lifespan of 50,000 hours for industrial applications and 100,000 hours for TFT LCD televisions. 

On the other hand, AMOLED screens last between four and five years. They have a shorter lifespan since the organic material used to make AMOLED displays deteriorates over time.

One of the factors that affect an AMOLED screen’s longevity is burn-in. This happened when a user displays static image on an AMOLED screen for a long time, causing the illuminating pixels to degrade over time. This can cause a permanent “ghost” picture on the display. 

This can happen to any type of screen, but it’s more common in AMOLED displays, especially those used for extended periods under high brightness levels. For this reason, AMOLED screen users are advised to avoid displaying static images over long periods and to use low-brightness settings when possible.

It’s also important to invest in high-quality AMOLED screens. AMOLED screens of a superior build tend to outlast lower-quality ones.

TFT Vs. Amoled: Usage

TFT screens have been around longer than AMOLED displays. Remember, TFT LCD screens also have pretty decent picture quality, reasonable development, and a cheap price point as we’ll see later. They’re also highly reliable and the first choice for many terminal products.

For these reasons, TFT screens’ usage spans diverse sectors such as industrial, transportation, smart homes, medical treatment, electric power, artificial intelligence, and many others. You’ll find TFT LCD screens used on watches, monitors, mobile phones, and home televisions.

In the photography industry, camera manufacturers opt for TFT LCD screens because they show the photographer high-resolution captured images with color-accurate reproductions. Photographers can make an accurate judgment of their work on the spot, without having to upload the image on a laptop or computer

Due to their energy-efficient nature, AMOLED screens are more common in applications where power consumption is a concern. This includes mobile devices, such as smartphones, smartwatches, and other wearable devices.

The applications of AMOLED screens exceed consumer gadgets. They also have unique benefits for industries such as automotive, medical, advertising, and more. Here’s a breakdown of some industries where you’ll find these displays:

  • Automotive industry– Modern cars with large displays on the dashboard use AMOLED screens due to their wide viewing angles, fast response times, and superb readability in the sun. Other AMOLED displays in the automotive sector include heads-up displays, infotainment touchscreens, and transparent displays.
  • Advertising– AMOLED screens are common in the advertising industries as they help capture attention and convey information effectively. You’ll find these screens on digital signage, retail displays, digital restaurant menus, and wayfinding signage in public spaces.
  • Medical industry– Hospital and healthcare displays use AMOLED screens since accuracy and precision are crucial. The high resolution, excellent contrast, and wide viewing angles help in medical imaging, scans, and X-rays. 
  • Home appliances– AMOLED screens have taken over user interfaces used at home. Modern home appliances with user interfaces, such as fridges, ovens, washing machines, and smart home thermostats use these screens due to their sleek visuals.
  • Military– The military is always one of the early adopters of modern technology, and AMOLED displays haven’t been left behind. Common AMOLED applications in the military include night-vision devices, wearable devices for soldiers, avionic control panels, and head-up panels for armored vehicles.
  • Marine– Durability and visibility are important in the marine sector. These screens are used in fish finders, navigation systems, and yacht entertainment systems. Besides, if proper sealing is used, AMOLED screens can become water-resistant.

TFT Vs. Amoled: Gaming Applications

In the world of gaming, both TFT LCDs and AMOLED screens dominate the market. There are many considerations to make when choosing a monitor for gaming. Some common factors include aspect ratio, refresh rates, and response time. 

While these two types of screen technologies are popular options in the gaming community, they have some differences when it comes to performance. 

For example, TFT LCD screens triumph over AMOLED gaming screens when it comes to brightness and cost. Remember, TFT displays have a separate backlight source, meaning they can be brighter. This makes them suitable for gaming in well-lit environments. If you play games in well-lit rooms or outdoors and also don’t want to break the bank when buying a monitor, a TFT LCD screen might be the perfect option.

On the other hand, AMOLED gaming screens dominate their competition when it comes to performance factors, such as visual quality, refresh rates, motion handling, and battery life. These screens offer a wide color gamut, deep blacks, and high contrast while delivering an immersive gaming experience with minimal blur, lag, and ghosting.

If you’re a heavy gamer who plays fast-paced games that need quick reflexes, your priority is immersive experience and performance, and you have a considerable budget to spend, AMOLED screens might be the perfect match.

TFT Vs. Amoled: Cost and Availability

When it comes to the cost, TFT panels are certainly cheaper compared to AMOLED displays. This can be attributed to the fact that they’ve been around longer, are more available, and are cheaper to produce. 

AMOLED screens are more expensive since they have cutting-edge technology and they help consume less energy. The intended purpose of an AMOLED display can also influence its price point. 

For example, an AMOLED screen made for intense gaming is more expensive than an ordinary AMOLED display made for normal work and used by graphic designers, web developers, or photographers. Gaming AMOLED displays are made to handle heavy graphics and are optimized to provide gamers with an immersive gaming experience. 

However, keep in mind that the price of both TFT and AMOLED screens reduces or increases based on other factors such as screen resolution and size. Different manufacturers also have different price points for their products.

TFT Vs. Amoled: Verdict

Now that we’ve carried out a comparative analysis and see where each of these screens triumphs, which one should you go for?

There’s never a one-size-fits-all answer. It all depends on your needs and preferences. TFT displays aren’t as bright or high-performing compared to AMOLED screens, but they’re cheaper to acquire. Besides, they’ve been around more than AMOLED displays, so they’re more available. While they’re cheap to buy, you’ll compensate for the buying price through the running cost. They consume a lot of power as they have a separate source of backlight.

If you’re worried about image retention and price points, TFT displays may be the best option for you.

On the other hand, AMOLED screens are more expensive but beat TFT screens when it comes to performance. They offer fast response time, a high refresh rate, a wide color gamut, more vibrant colors, and deeper blacks. They’re the best option for users who prioritize performance, an immersive experience, and have a huge budget to spend.

Ultimately it’s up to you to evaluate your needs, priorities, and budget so you can make a wise decision.

Conclusion

When purchasing a screen, the technology you opt for can have a huge impact on user experience. To establish whether you need a TFT display or an AMOLED screen, we recommend you go through both the benefits and potential downsides of each.

With that said, consulting with industry experts will help you make a wise decision. NSE LED will hold your hand and walk with you through your quest for an immersive experience. 

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