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Do you need a smartphone with 1080p display?

If 1080p in a phone sounds like a lot, that's because it is. When the first iPhone with a "retina display" came out, it packed a 3.5" screen with a resolution of 960x640, giving it 326 pixelsper inch (or ppi). Notably, when Apple increased the physical size of the iPhone to 4", it also increased the resolution to 1136x640 which is still 326ppi. In most cases, 300ppi or so exceeds what the human eye is able to distinguish at a normal viewing distance (which is what Apple's "Retina" is supposed to refer to).

A 1080p phone, on the other hand, has an insane amount of pixels in comparison. In a 5" phone, a display of 1920x1080 has a whopping density of 440ppi. If you go down to, say a 4.7" phone like the HTC One, you reach 468ppi. That's a resolution that's about 50% higher than what most human eyes can readily distinguish under normal usage. You can probably see pixels if you squint really close, but is there any real benefit to going up this high?

High resolution displays use more battery power
It's impossible to add more pixels to a device without needing power to run them. Some types of panels like AMOLED only light up pixels as they're needed, which means you can conserve some power by using darker themes, but LCD displays will light them all up no matter what, which requires more juice. Not only to physically turn them on, but it also requires battery power to run the processor harder to account for the added complexity (which we'll come back to in a bit).

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