The Super AMOLED Screen on Your Galaxy S6

By Bill Hughes

All Samsung Galaxy S6 phones have a Super AMOLED screen. Here’s what makes this so good — and what makes you so smart for having bought the Samsung Galaxy S6.

To start, think about a typical LCD screen, like what your TV or PC might have. LCDs are great, but they work best indoors where it’s not too bright. LCDs need a backlight (fluorescent, most commonly), and the backlight draws a fair amount of power, although much less power than a CRT. When used on a phone, an LCD screen is the largest single user of battery life, using more power than the radios or the processor. Also, because of the backlight on an LCD screen, these screens display black as kinda washed-out, not a true black.

The next step has been to use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which convert energy to light more efficiently. Monochrome LEDs have been used for decades. They are also used in mongo-screens (Jumbotrons) in sports arenas. Until recently, getting the colors right was a struggle. (Blue was a big problem.) That problem was solved by using organic materials (organic as in carbon-based, as opposed to being grown with no pesticides) for LEDs.

The first organic LEDs (OLEDs) looked good, drew less power, and offered really dark blacks — but still had two problems. Their imaging really stank in bright light, even worse than did LCD screens. Also, there was a problem with crosstalk: individual pixels would get confused, over time, about whether they were on or off. You’d see green or red pixels remaining onscreen, even if the area was clearly supposed to be dark. It was very distracting.

The solution to the pixels’ confusion is called Active Matrix, which tells the pixels more frequently whether they are to be on or off. When you have Active Matrix technology, you have an Active Matrix Organic LED, or AMOLED. The image you get with this technology still stinks in bright light, but at least it’s some improvement.

Enter the Super AMOLED technology, made by Samsung. When compared with the first AMOLED screens, Super AMOLED screens are 20 percent brighter, use 20 percent less power, and cut sunlight reflection by 80 percent. This is really super!

This screen still uses a significant share of battery life, but less than with earlier technologies. With Super AMOLED, you even save more power if you use darker backgrounds where possible.