Pixel density race starts to get silly as LG smartphone display hits 538ppi

We may all be eagerly awaiting affordable 4k displays for our computers and TVs, but things are starting to get just a little silly in the race for ever higher resolutions in small-screen devices. LG has just announced a 5.5-inch screen with a 2560×1440 resolution, giving it a pixel density of 538ppi.

It’s an impressive technological achievement, but the question we have to ask is: why? Once you get much beyond 300ppi, pixels essentially become invisible at any sane viewing distance. 538ppi is over-kill. Of course, one could ask ‘Why not?’, but there’s a simple answer in mobile devices: both the display itself, and the beefier graphics processor needed to drive it, consume power. Pointless resolution equals pointless reduction in battery-life.

The sad thing is that non-tech-savvy consumers will likely lap it up. Bigger numbers are better, right? It’s the same phenomenon we’ve seen with cameraphones, with manufacturers boasting higher and higher megapixel numbers when any photographer will tell you that cramming masses of pixels into a tiny sensor actually results in worse image quality, especially in terms of low-light performance. It’s why DSLRs have much larger sensors than smartphones.

There’s only one reason you might want ultra-high resolution in a phone: the ability to push the display to a large-screen device.

As an aside, LG refers to the 2560×1440 resolution as ‘Quad HD’. It would be more accurately described as ‘Quad 720p HD’ as it’s the same number of pixels as four 1280×720 displays.

Full press release below …