Is AMOLED Display Visible in Sunlight? (Must Read)

Man using phone in sunlight

Laptops, smartphones, and TVs have screens as one of their vital components.

Seeing as you aren’t a mythical vampire who’s only out at night, it matters how your device’s display fares in sunlight. For many of us who are out and about during the day, when the sun is at its full brightness, we still have to use our phones in maximum brightness where display becomes the most important aspect of the phone experience.

So, is the popular AMOLED display visible in sunlight?

Here is how the AMOLED display performs in sunlight

Generally speaking, visibility or readability in sunlight is something AMOLED displays often struggle to execute appropriately. However, some companies that rely on these displays have made improvements for use in sunlight, e.g Samsung’s Super AMOLED (sAMOLED) display combines the touch panel and displays as a single unit. The combined unit eliminates an extra screen barrier, thus increasing the display’s brightness in sunlight.

This article explores whether AMOLED screens have a backlight, whether it is visible in sunlight, and which is best.

Does AMOLED screens have backlight?

Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (AMOLED) is the first trending mobile display technology camp, with the other being LCD. Many smartphone manufacturers choose AMOLED displays, and there are definite benefits of using them. 

A detailed description of how AMOLED panel displays work will reveal whether its screens have a backlight.

OLED is a thin-film-display technology with organic compounds as its electroluminescent material. When activated, the individual pixels in the matrix luminesce and a thin-film transistor controls them.

AMOLED display and its “parent” display, OLED don’t use backlights. Instead, a Light-Emitting Diode (LED) is the primary component of these display forms. The display panel’s clusters of red, blue, and green LEDs comprise each pixel.

A certain amount of light passes through a pixel at varying intensities to show the color on your screen. The screens don’t need a backlight because the three colors in the pixels are light themselves. AMOLED also produces the darkest black for a higher contrast ratio.

Samsung pioneered AMOLED screens on smartphones, and now they also find applications in tablets, watches, and digital cameras. Manufacturers are also trying to increase the screen sizes to meet large OLED TVs.

Here’s an outline of some pros and cons of AMOLED screens:

Pros of AMOLED screens

  • Energy efficiency: They can reach higher energy efficiency levels than other display types. It’s due to the lack of backlight since the display can light pixels individually and turn some off entirely (proper back).
  • Vivid colors: An excellent contrast ratio gives these screens the most vivid colors. The contrast ratio is the distance in color from darkest to lightest, and in an AMOLED display, it’ll make images pop.
  • True black: Since no backlight stays on constantly, the display can turn off pixels to display the black parts of an image. Compared to LCD, which only has a gray color, AMOLED produces the blackest black.
  • Thin and flexible: The typical AMOLED screen is about 200 times thinner than a strand of a human hair—a 100 to 500 nanometers thick organic plastic layer. So, these screens are lighter and more flexible than LCD or LED crystalline layers.

Cons of AMOLED

  • Durability: One damaged pixel can ruin the entire screen and cause it to stop displaying. The AMOLED display will often crack or break before the overlaying glass.
  • Cost: Higher manufacturing costs and the newness of the technology makes its repair cost twice that of a comparable LCD.
  • Burn-in: As the screen gets older, the pixels can get stuck showing a specific color or image or an icon’s shadow.
  • Degradation: The organic materials in AMOLED displays are prone to degradation with age, causing reduced brightness and color accuracy.

Is AMOLED display visible in sunlight?

With smart devices, the screen has moved from a basic component to one of the essential hardware parts. To optimize the user experience, a device needs a high-quality screen. This will make you operate the device conveniently and deliver an excellent visual experience in several scenarios.

Different screen materials will vary in how they display the same picture, mainly differing in contrast and saturation. Screen materials also vary in their display effects in sunlight.

AMOLED displays are thin and are the preference for the popular sleek smartphones. However, since each pixel on the screen is fired separately to produce its light, its overall brightness might be lower. This will be more evident if you’re using a dark background.

However, this doesn’t apply to all AMOLED displays. Tech companies like Samsung have addressed the concerns of visibility in sunlight by producing better screens. Samsung’s Super AMOLED (sAMOLED) display combines the touch panel and displays as a single unit.

The combined unit eliminates an extra screen barrier, thus increasing the display’s brightness in sunlight. Super AMOLED screens may not yet be on par with LCD screens on visibility in sunlight, but they’re close.

Samsung’s latest OLED screen can reach up to 1500 nits brightness, raising the sunlight visibility bar. Right now, you can add an excellent screen to their high refresh rates, superb contrast ratio, and power-saving features.

Which display is best in sunlight?

Have you ever struggled to see your phone or wristwatch in sunlight? The type of display in a smart device is the primary contributor to how you see it in sunlight. So you don’t squint your eyes into straight lines, here are the best displays in sunlight:

Outdoor or sunlight readable LCD

The bright backlight of IPS LCDs gives them the advantage in sunlight. As a result, these screens perform optimally in direct sunlight, compared to other display types. SLCD displays are a brighter variant of IPS LCDs, and you’ll mostly find them in high-end HTC phones.

Reflective LCDs use ambient light instead of a backlight and are even more excellent for outdoor visibility. 

E-Ink displays

These displays are only visible in the presence of ambient light, making them the best for sunlight visibility. They have no backlighting and cause the least glare on your eyes. If you want to read outdoors, they’re perfect for digital reading.

Other factors that affect a display’s visibility in sunlight include:

  • The technology used: Like Xiaomi’s pioneer technology Sunlight Display and Nokia’s ClearBlack.
  • The display brightness: Phones with 500 nits and above brightness are ideal for outdoor visibility.
  • Screen guard protectors: Get a high-quality screen guard protector with anti-reflection coating on it or use tempered glass.

The aim is to use your device in sunlight without going blind. So, factor in the display type when selecting a device, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors.