Hand holding a Samsung Galaxy S10 with a coloful display in front of multicolored lights.
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You’ve probably seen the term “Super AMOLED” display being used in smartphone marketing material in recent years. These displays are more popular than ever, so what exactly does AMOLED stand for, and what makes them different from regular old OLEDs?

Different Types of OLED Displays

OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode, and it’s a type of display that first appeared in the late 1980s. OLED displays are self-emissive, which means that they create their own light and don’t need a backlight.

The “AM” in AMOLED stands for “active matrix,” which is different from less efficient PMOLEDs (or “passive matrix” OLEDs). In passive matrix models, external circuitry is required to control each pixel on the panel. Where strips of anodes and cathodes intersect, pixels can turn on and off as required.

Close-up of a powered-off panel of LEDs
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An active matrix OLED display incorporates a thin film transistor (TFT) layer in place of anode strips, which makes for a more efficient way of addressing pixels. Since there’s less external circuitry required thanks to the TFT layer, active matrix panels consume less power than their passive matrix counterparts.

AMOLED panels are more suitable for larger displays like TVs and monitors. PMOLED displays are easier to manufacture but are better suited to smaller displays of only a few inches in size. AMOLED panels are faster, which allows them to support higher refresh rates and achieve better pixel response times.

RELATED: The 5 Best OLED TVs You Can Buy Today

Super AMOLED Is Samsung Marketing

Super AMOLED is specific to Samsung devices and is often used in the branding for Samsung-branded smartphones and tablets. Samsung says that “Super AMOLED is an AMOLED display that has an integrated touch function,” which means that the digitizer (which converts touch into input) is merged into the display stack. This makes the display thinner than having an additional digitizer layer.

Super AMOLED Display Marketing on Samsung website

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Samsung also claims that these displays have a 100,000:1 contrast ratio, although this figure should only be applied to those carrying the “Super AMOLED” branding rather than all the AMOLED screens on the market.

Samsung is by no means the only company to do this, with Apple using their own “Super Retina” and “Super Retina XDR” display nomenclature, too.

Learn More About OLEDs

OLED panels go into what are arguably the best-looking TVs on the market. They have a theoretically infinite contrast ratio for deep blacks and near-instant pixel response times for gaming enthusiasts, and they’re finally cheap enough to be considered mainstream.

But before you buy an OLED, make sure that you understand the difference between self-emissive organic panels and traditional LCDs.

Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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