In the world of smartphones and wearable gadgets, there are various displays, from LCD and OLED to Mini-LED and LTPO. LTPO display has been considered in recent years, especially after increasing the refresh rate of various devices. But what is an LTPO display and how does it help reduce product battery life?
For some time now, various companies have been equipping their flagship and even mid-range phones with high-refresh displays. As refresh rates increase, the user experience improves and a smoother user experience is provided, but that better experience takes a big toll: the device’s battery level. This problem has led companies to look for solutions and explore different display technologies.
One of these technologies is called LTPO display, which stands for low temperature polycrystalline oxide. These panels perform much better in terms of energy efficiency than their previous generations and are therefore a very good option for portable devices such as smartphones.
Various companies have gone for this type of display, from Samsung and OnePlus to Apple. This panel is currently used in flagship phones, but maybe in the near future mid-range and even low-end phones will be equipped with such a panel.
In this article, we want to introduce you to the LTPO display, how it works and why you might want your smartphone to have such a display one day. Stay with Digito until the end.
What is an LTPO display?
Before we get to the LTPO display, we need to know how traditional panels work. The OLED displays that Samsung calls Omud are made up of three layers, including an organic emission layer, a protective glass surface, and a back panel that controls how each pixel behaves individually, and that’s where LTPO technology comes in. Takes action.
OLED back panels are made of thin film transistor or TFT. Transistors are basically scaled-down electronic components that provide the logic of a circuit. Modern processors, like those used in your smartphone and laptop, use billions of transistors. In OLED displays, these transistors have two functions: turning on and off individual pixels individually and keeping a certain level of brightness.
In the display industry we have come across several TFT back screens and we have seen different types of them such as LTPS and IGZO. Each of these technologies has its own strengths and weaknesses.
IGZO displays have high energy efficiency, but their large production cost is high. In addition, it is higher than LTPS panels, which have long existed in the world of smartphones. However, energy efficiency prevents us from passing such technology easily.
IGZO panels can dramatically reduce the refresh rate of OLED panels, for example at a refresh rate of 1 frame per second. As can be guessed, such an approach leads to a significant reduction in energy consumption, which is very important, especially in devices such as smartphones that have small batteries and high-consumption components.
While the IGZO back panel can be used in displays, many industry activists have turned to a hybrid or hybrid technology called low-temperature polycrystalline oxide, or LTPO. Simply put, the LTPO display is a combination of existing technologies, namely LTPS and IGZO.
The result of such a combination is that you can achieve a wide refresh rate; From 1 Hz to 120 Hz and even higher and you can also experience variable rate refresh technology (VRR). In addition, LTPO panels can achieve high pixel densities, just like the LTPS displays found in many smartphones today.
It is worth mentioning that Apple has several patents in the field of LTPO technology. However, display manufacturers are still working on this technology to achieve higher quality. Samsung, for example, uses HOP displays in its flagship handsets, which are a combination of hybrid-oxide and polycrystalline silicon. The panel used by the Koreans has the same performance and energy efficiency as LTPO, which we will examine below.
The benefits of LTPO monitors in the real world
Aside from energy efficiency, does variable rate refresh have another advantage? Especially since many new smartphones allow you to manually change the refresh rate. The answer to this question is simple: Refresh rate technology enables more precise variable refresh control over the two or three steps manually provided by manufacturers.
While many devices take advantage of software features such as adaptive refresh rates that can adjust the refresh rate from 60 to 120 Hz, their performance is limited to just these two numbers. However, sometimes we may want to achieve a different refresh rate from these numbers.
For example, look at the always-on display technology. In this technology, a fixed content is displayed on the screen of your phone for a long time, so why should the content of the panel be refreshed 120 or even 60 times per second? With variable rate refresh on LTPO monitors, a refresh rate of 10 or even 1 Hz can be achieved when needed.
Another advantage of LTPO panels is that they are convenient for viewing content. Most movies are produced at 24 frames per second, and if you see them on 60 Hz panels, you will encounter artificial movements. Although software can prevent this as much as possible, it does not make sense to access unused refresh rates with higher power consumption.
Low refresh rates can also reduce the pressure on the chip and do not require much work. In other words, the GPU consumes less power than the 60 or 120Hz refresh rate. With an LTPO panel, the monitor can more easily reduce refresh rate when you are not touching or touching it. Many displays that take advantage of the adaptive refresh rate reduce the refresh rate from 120 to 60 Hz, and no less is possible.
In general, LTPO displays are the best option when you need a specific refresh rate, whether for a specific application or energy saving. These panels consume about 10 to 20 percent less energy than similar displays.
Phones equipped with LTPO display
The Apple Watch 4 Series was one of the first consumer devices with an LTPO display to arrive in 2018. The panel’s high energy efficiency led Apple to increase the screen size and also move to a smaller battery than the previous model. Although you might think such an approach seems a bit contradictory, the Cupertinos were able to increase the screen size without having a negative effect on battery charging, and the user would not feel short of charging.
Since then, countless products have been equipped with LTPO panels, including the iPad Pro and iPhone 13 Pro models. In the Android world, many flagship phones use this display, from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to the Google Pixel 6 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro.
Another good thing to know about LTPO TFT technology is that it can be used in LCD monitors as well. For example, both versions of the Razrphone use an IGZO-based LCD panel that can have a refresh rate of 120 Hz. Of course, all flagship phones that use variable rate refresh technology use OLED panels with LTPO.
The reason for such an approach in the world of smartphones could be that Samsung makes most of the displays, while only one company tests LCD-based IGZO Sharp panels.
Do we have to go to the LTPO panel for our next phone?
LTPO displays, along with bulky batteries, allow smartphone makers to use the power of their products for a variety of purposes. For example, companies can switch to high-power 5G modems as well as more powerful processing chips. While you may not encounter a higher battery charge than the previous generation of handsets, you will experience higher performance without sacrificing battery power, which is a positive thing in itself.
We expect LTPO displays to make their way into mid-range phones in the not-too-distant future, just like the technologies of the past that are no longer used in flagships and are also found in mid-range phones.
Most LTPs use adaptive refresh technology until the LTPO display is inserted into the mid-range devices. However, if you do not have a budget problem and you want to get a new phone, look for a device that is equipped with an LTPO panel to enjoy its benefits.