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Displays, what are pixel size, resolution, and density?

The truth is that years ago only the size of the screen and its resolution mattered, the density of pixels per inch was left aside. And, in essence, that is what is necessary. The higher the resolution, the better image quality that screen will have. The bigger the screen, in turn, the better it is supposed to look, right? It is not entirely true.

Pixels and screen resolution

To give us an idea. A pixel is a point that can emit a single color. Something that we all understand and are very familiar with are cameras and their corresponding megapixels. A 10 megapixel camera can capture images composed of 10 million pixels, that is, 10 million dots. The higher the number of points, or pixels, the better quality the image we take will have. With the image below it is seen more clearly.

In the six shots we are seeing the same image, but represented with a different number of pixels. In the first shot of all you can hardly see anything. This is represented by four points, four pixels, which can only be one color.

In the second shot there are already nine pixels, and the gray corners can be seen. Again we check that each pixel is a single color. The image, although it gives us more data, does not tell us anything, like the previous one.

The third take is already taking shape. We have 36 pixels that allow us to differentiate something else, although nothing sharp.

Going to the bottom row, we can see how a green element can be distinguished centered with a lower shadow, and surrounded by something gray. Here we already have 100 pixels.

In the penultimate shot there is no doubt, it is the Android mascot, and it is on a gray carpet, where it draws the shadow, and surrounded by other similar pets. There are already 900 pixels here.

In the last shot we can already see all the details of the android, with full clarity. This is the original image and can be viewed in full quality. The test we just ran shows that the more pixels, the better the image looks. Higher resolution offers better image quality.

A larger screen size loses quality

Now, what happens in the case of screen size? Does the image quality improve or deteriorate? Actually, with the same resolution, the bigger the screen, the worse it will look. The displays are like pizza crusts. The more we knead and the bigger we make it, the finer it is. Well, the same thing happens here, if we have a fixed resolution and we make it bigger, we lose quality. Again, an image clarifies it for us.

The original image on the left looks sharp, with its details, despite being small. Instead, the image on the right is the same but larger. What about this one? It loses a lot of quality, this is because it has the same number of pixels as the small original. To maintain the same quality as the small one, it would have to have a number of pixels proportionally greater to the growth in size of the image.

Thus, something similar happens with the screens. If we have the same resolution, but we increase the size, we lose quality. To increase the size of the screen and not lose quality, we also have to increase the resolution in proportion to the growth in size. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has a smaller screen than the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, since that of the former is 4.8 inches, while that of the latter is 5.5 inches. Both two have the same resolution, 1280 by 720 pixels. Which one looks better? Indeed, the Galaxy S3 offers sharper images than the Galaxy Note 2. It is true that the difference is not very great and it is not very perceptible to the human eye in this case, but it helps us to understand the case.

The Retina screen of the iPhone 4S is 3.5 inches, compared to 5.5 inches in the Galaxy Note 2. The resolution of the iPhone 4S screen is lower, at 960 by 640 pixels, compared to the Note’s 1280 by 720 pixels. 2. Now, the sharpness of the iPhone 4S screen, as well as its quality, is better, one of the bright pillars of this device. And this is where pixel density per inch comes in.

Pixel density per inch (PPI)

On a commercial level, whatever is used to attract the public’s attention. We can say that a smartphone has a large six-inch screen when in reality its resolution is as bad as that of a computer from the last century. However, it will sell a lot that it has a six-inch screen. A few years ago a very interesting feature began to be used, that of the density of pixels per inch, expressed in English as “pixels per inch” (PPI). Actually, it is this measurement that best allows us to know the quality of the screen. The device with the highest pixel density has the highest image quality.

Assimilating what the density of pixels per inch is is easy. Actually, the resolution of the screen is a good determinant to know the quality of it. However, the image quality may vary when the screen size varies. Thus, the density of pixels per inch depends on both the resolution and the size, and gives us a result taken as a function of both. What it tells us is how many dots, or pixels, there are in an inch.

Returning to the previous case, the iPhone 4S screen has a density of 328 PPI, compared to the 305 PPI of the Galaxy S3, and the 267 PPI of the Galaxy Note 2. Of course, Apple has it easy with such small screens, we will have to see what This is what happens when they release the new iPhone 5, which will carry a screen more similar to what is on the market today.

For all these reasons, the supposed data of the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung’s future phablet, which was said to have a 358 PPI screen, with a 5.8-inch screen, caught our attention. A beastly incredible sum.