When Apple first began marketing the display resolution of the iPhone 4 using terms like “Retina display,” a race began to produce smartphones with the highest resolutions and pixel densities. Android devices had been ahead for quite a while with 800 x 480 displays when the iPhone was still at 480 x 320, and quickly eclipsed the iPhone again by moving on to 720p panels. While they may not all be “Retina” displays thanks to varying screen sizes, the higher resolution displays on all high end smartphones look quite good, especially compared to just a year or two ago.
However, that apparently isn’t good enough for Samsung. According to a Korean source, Samsung is planning to upgrade its smartphones to 1080p displays, which will have pixel densities of over 400ppi. They are said to be coming sometime next year, presumably to compete with the HTC DLX’s rumored 1080p display.
While this kind of advancement is certainly nice, I’m not sure that it is entirely necessary. I have certainly found a difference between my 720p Galaxy Nexus and other qHD and WVGA devices, but even that difference is slight. The pixel density, even on the 4.65-inch display, is high enough already that I don’t think more pixels will make a difference. In fact, if Apple’s claims about the “Retina display” having pixels indistinguishable to the naked eye, then increasing the resolution of devices from 720p to 1080p won’t make any sort of difference.
It is possible that Samsung may be planning to market an absolutely massive phone (5.5-inch display) that would benefit at least some from a 1080p panel, but in my opinion even then the benefits are negligible. Personally, I’d rather have better colors, dark blacks, and bright whites, as well as better battery life and brightness, than a resolution that only looks good on paper. Also, I’m not sure if I’ll be ready to upgrade to a 1080p phone until I upgrade my HDTV to at least that same resolution.