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2k screen headerAs the dawn of 2K screens begins to hit out smartphones, an inevitable trade-off is set to be thrust upon consumers between image quality and battery life… Is a super-crisp 2K image worth losing a few hours of battery life, or is a UHD screen simply a waste of precious power?

The screen quality debate has currently hit the media after both LG and Samsung announced smartphones with “quad HD” 2K screen, whilst Sony have stuck with the ‘traditional’ Full HD 1920x1080p format.


Sony’s director of marketing at Xperia Calum MacDougall, was pretty steady with their stance on 2K. Sony don’t “believe the trade-off between having a 2K screen and battery consumption is the right trade-off for a consumer.”

In his interview with Trusted Reviews, MacDougall commented that “it is very difficult for the human eye to discern the difference between 2K and Full HD”, especially on screens up to 8 inches.


Are Sony right or just covering their tracks?

So do Sony have a point? Is Ultra HD wasted on smartphones? Or are they just covering their backs after lagging behind the market leaders?


Pixel pointless?

Well, on the outset it seems like Sony have got a point. It’s the law of diminishing returns: The more pixels you have, the more your screen draws power and costs more to make, however the difference a user can distinguish in quality is minimal.

Once you’ve got rid of pixilation of an image (to the human eye) it’s pretty pointless to keep perfecting it.

Starting with the 2K screen. Stuffing more pixels into an 8 inch-screen does not automatically give you a better image quality. In many cases, the human eye can’t actually process that amount of detail over such a small area- especially when read at a ‘healthy viewing distance’.

Samsung actually downgraded the pixel density of their S5 smartphone compared to the S4. The market leading manufactures instead opted to upgrade the rendering systems and graphics of the S5, compensating for the slight loss in pixels.

Naturally this is not the case for screens larger than about 10-Inch, as the resolution become an issue again.



As for battery life, there’s still some debate. On the face of it a higher pixel density screen should draw more power. However both Samsung and LG are adamant their battery longevity is still competitive.

For the Xperia Z3, Sony are claiming that without the 2k screen it can last for 2 days. An amazing feat for a modern smartphone, I personally can’t remember the last time my phone lasted 24 hours never mind 48. Would be a great coup for Sony if that is the case.


Why 2K?

So is 2K a gimmick on a Smartphone then? The cynical user out there will probably say yes, a pointless addition for a screen too small to even see.

On the other hand, many users will believe there is a discernible difference in screen quality. 2K does look great especially on the larger smartphones.

The battery drain is a huge issue, unless manufactures can improve longevity there will be a tug of war between image quality and battery power.

Until a new breed of long-life batteries are introduced, for me 2K is an unnecessary drain on devices under 6-Inch, even though it does look awesome.




  1. Do you mean 2K or 4K? The resolution for 2k is 2048 x 1080 pixels. FullHD (a term I personally dislike) is 1920 x 1080. Whereas 4k is 4096 x 2160 and UHD is 3840 x 2160.

    Please confirm which resolution you are talking about. Otherwise it is just a mess of terminology that only confuses the average consumer for no reason.

  2. I would say where this comes into play (especially for the Note-4) is when you start using VR headsets where you then split half the screen, one for each eye. you still get the HD resolution…

  3. Surely worth pointing out that the 24″ monitor on my desktop that I’m reading this article on has a 1080p (full HD) screen. Do I need more pixels than that on my smartphone? No thanks.

  4. Pretty sure he means 2k as in 2560*1440, so called quad hd because its quad 1280*720. I agree the terminology is a bit of a mess

  5. The battery life depends as much on what you use the smartphone for as on its design, screen size etc. My 1st generation Moto G easily lasts several days when I’m in an area where there is good network coverage, although it can be fairly run down after a day when I visit North-West Wales where coverage is poor and it’s continually searching for a signal. However, I use it primarily as a phone, on which I don’t make or receive many calls, and not as a pocket computer!

  6. Hi all

    Just wanted to clarify a terminology that is deliberately misleading.
    The first wave of “HD” TVs have been classified as 720 and 1080 – referring to the number of horizontal *rows* of pixels.
    Currently the marketting-speak for the latest wave of high-definiton TV (UHD) calls them “4K” which is an abbreviation for “4000”
    But, here, this 4000 refers to the number of vertical *columns* of pixels NOT horizontal rows (like the first wave)

    On that basis the first wave of of HDTVs where “1K” (for the 720s) and “2K” (for the 1080s)
    Or conversely, the UHD (“4K”) TVs should be called 2160s (on the same basis as 720 and 1080 TVs)

    Let’s put aside the fact that so-called “4K” HDTVs are actually UHD which have 3840 columns of pixels (and not quite 4000).

    Personally, I don’t think we need resolutions beyond “Full HD” on smartphones and tablets.


  7. Screen Definition v Battery Life?

    I think the screen matters most to those who like watching videos on post-card sized screens (for pity’s sake, why?). But, of course, they’re also likely to be the ones wanting to maximise their battery life, too. Tough call.

    Me, I tend to use my smartphone (Galaxy S3 – I’d love an S5 but can’t justify the cost for the relatively marginal difference it would make), as a pocketable computer (with a Surface tablet in my photographic kit where screen size and quality matter more), so battery life matters rather more than screen quality. That said, I never leave home for more than a few hours without taking an emergency power-pack with me (or a spare battery). Anyone who doesn’t have one or the other – and there are a staggering number of people who don’t have so much as a second battery – is just asking for trouble.

  8. It’s not pixilation, it’s pixelation or pixellation, pixilation is a technique used in stop frame animation. I have an LG G3, just bought to replace my Galaxy S3, I don’t watch much video at all, but I like to view photos at decent resolution. My battery life is very good and will do a full day no problem. I chose the high res over the battery life side of the see-saw. Gone are the days when your old Nokia or Motorola would go 2 or 3 days without a recharge. I have a bedside Android Bluetooth alarm dock, so my phone charges while I’m sleeping, ready for the next day… If what I’m reading about the next gen of lithium ion batteries coming to market in under 2 years is correct, then us high res screen users will all be laughing.

  9. I bet Sony will charge the same prices for their phones with lesser screens meaning much lower production costs and exceptionally good profit margins if they pull it off.
    I think that for watching videos a 1080 full hd screen is the best resolution to go for, images always look their best viewed in their native resolution.

  10. 2K is too much to eye to recognize
    Other comparison between 1080p and 2K displays in mobile phones and what the difference in reality


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