Qualcomm's Vice President of Product Manager Tim Leland recently shared his view on the future of smartphone display technology. According to his vision, the next generations of smartphones will undergo tremendous improvements in terms of display quality, with future smartphones adopting 6K, 8K resolutions and beyond. While it may seem like overkill given the current state of smartphone displays and battery life, higher-resolution panels will be a natural evolution pushed onwards by the mobile VR (virtual reality) market.
Over the past few years, smartphones have evolved to accommodate an increasing number of pixels per inch with each new generation. Most Android flagship smartphones today house Full HD or 2K displays, but according to Qualcomm's Tim Leland, future smartphones will make use of panels with a much higher pixel count. "We'll see 6K, 8K and beyond" states the VP, adding that "It's going to keep going" and reach levels he "wouldn't have believed a few years ago". Interestingly enough, Mr. Leland also added that these aren't even advancements towards photo realism "but optical nerve realism." Not only will future smartphone displays deliver unprecedented resolutions, but they will also push the boundaries of "optical nerve realism" through a wide color gamut, increased color accuracy, and higher brightness levels.
As exciting as technological advancements can be, there is the question of whether 6K or 8K smartphone displays are necessary. On short, although these extreme pixel densities may have seemed unnecessary in the past, the rise of mobile virtual reality headsets will inevitably push smartphone display technology to new heights. Mobile VR HMDs (head-mounted displays) could greatly benefit from 6K or 8K screens as they can eliminate the so-called screen door effect where viewers can observe individual pixels lined up in a grid, which generally occurs in VR headsets whose displays don't have a high-enough resolution. In any case, mobile VR is expected to continue and rise in popularity, especially now that Google offers its own mobile VR solution in the form of Daydream VR, allowing Android smartphone manufacturers to implement VR capabilities into their devices using Google's SDKs (software development kits). There's also Samsung and the Gear VR platform backed by Oculus, which is arguably the most popular mobile VR solution to date.