Are We Ready for 480ppi?
By now, you've heard about the HTC DLX. Its a phone, its rumored for Verizon, it has a 5" display and 1080p resolution. This is a FullHD phone, 1080x1920 pixels, 480 ppi. This phone is insane.
I'm sure the display is incredible, but I think its too soon. It has barely been a year since the Rezound and the Galaxy Nexus stormed onto the scene and made 720p the new standard. At 340 and 315ppi these phones got rave reviews. I have two problems though: 1) 1080p hasn't happened on tablets yet and 2) 720p has barely happened on phones.
So far, I only know of the ASUS TF700 and the Acer A700 that have shipped with full HD screens. The Acer got a 6.9 and the ASUS still hasn't been reviewed, neither of these made much of a splash, I haven't even seen either of them on shelves, and nobody raves about them in comments. This is unfortunate because 1080p is 'retina' on tablets. 1440p displays aren't really a thing yet, they're a rarity even at trade shows, so for the foreseeable future, the resolution of tablets is going to be 1200x1920, and from what I hear, its pretty great on a tablet.
To be honest, 720p hasn't really happened on phones. HTC seems to be the only company capable of shipping a good HD display, Samsung has released two terrible pentile models and a gigantic sorta-not-quite-pentile screen. To me, this means that suppliers are having trouble making enough HD LCD's for everybody.If everyone tries to make the jump to 1080p, then supply lines will choke again and most of these 'HD' displays will be total garbage. The other issue is that GPUs still don't seem to be all there, gaming on a 720p phone isn't as smooth as it coud be, and letting GPUs catch up for another year is only going to do good things for the experience.
The fact that the OneX isn't as popular as the S3 means that display quality is not a great differentiator (and apparently, neither is design and build quality). There's basically no way that a FullHD screen is going to be as good as the SLCD2 screen they're currently shipping. The technology is young and the SLCD is pretty fantastic. Its definitely going to cost more, eating into HTC's already razor-thin profits.
Unless you have perfect vision and OCD, ~300ppi is a sweet spot. The overwhelming majority of people can't see the pixels. There's no doubt putting twice as many pixels will make for a potentially better display, but I dont' think it'll be twice as good. Even if they manage to match the SLCD2 on viewing angles, brightness and colour, there's diminishing returns once you go 'retina'. Is this worth doubling the amount of effort the GPU has to put in? Is it worth doubling the strength of the backlight? Doubling the size of the memory-CPU interface? Doubling the size of every UI element?
A 1080p display on a phone won't sway buyers, is only marginally better than 720p, costs more money, polygons and milliamps and will probably be a downgrade compared to the OneX, so why is HTC doing it?