Increasing demand for high information content and multimedia capability in mobile devices continues to drive flat panel display resolution to higher levels of pixel density. With panel makers developing ultra-high resolutions, such as 4K × 2K for TVs and QXGA (2048 × 1536 pixels) for tablet PCs, the average pixel density of flat panel displays is expected to grow over the next few years.

According to the latest DisplaySearch Quarterly Worldwide Flat Panel Display Forecast Report, the average pixels per inch (PPI) of large-area (>9.1”) TFT LCDs will increase from 88 in 2010 to 98 in 2015, while average PPI for small/medium (<9.0”) TFT LCDs will grow from 180 to 210 over the same period. Mobile phones are the most obvious driver of increasing PPI due to growth in smart phones, with displays like 3.5” 960 × 640 resolution (330 PPI), 4.3” 800 × 480 (217 PPI) and 1280 × 800 (330 PPI). In 2010, the share of mobile phone displays (including TFT LCD and AMOLED) with more than 200 PPI was 22%. By 2015, the share is forecast to reach 50%, and increase further to 55% in 2018.

Figure 1: Mobile Phone Display Resolution Trends

Source: Quarterly Worldwide Flat Panel Forecast Report

According to Hiroshi Hayase, DisplaySearch Vice President for Small/Medium Display Research, “As consumers come to expect multimedia performance and internet access on handheld devices such as mobile phones or tablet PCs, it is important for such devices to utilize high resolution displays.”

Charles Annis, Vice President for Manufacturing Research, added, “Panel makers are rapidly commercializing a variety technology solutions that enable super high resolution FPDs, such as low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) and other high mobility backplane materials, low resistivity metal bus lines, high aperture ratio pixel designs, and laser induced thermal imaging (LITI) for AMOLEDs.”

Later this year and early in 2012, products will offer displays such as 7” 1280 × 800 (215 PPI), 9.7” 2048 × 1536 (264 PPI) and 10.1” 1920 × 1200 (218 PPI). Such products are expected to be attractive to consumers who spend more time on applications that require pixel formats closer to that of PCs or TVs. “More and more consumers are expecting seamless experience and visual performance between smart phones and tablet PCs, and manufacturers are looking to extend high resolutions from smart phones to tablet PCs,” added Hayase.

Figure 2: Pixel Density Evolution in PC and Smart Phone Displays

The DisplaySearch Quarterly Worldwide Flat Panel Forecast Report covers quarterly worldwide shipments of all major flat panel applications. With over 140 FPD producers across 10+ countries and authored by industry experts, the report analyzes historical shipments and forecast projections. PPI is the latest feature added to this report.

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Posted by Janine E. Mooney, Associate Editor