Mobile technology has improved rapidly over the past decade, going from pixellated little screens to massive pixel-perfect slabs that seem lifelike.
We have come a long way, but display researchers are turning a blind eye to the progress, and claim that there is a limit to the abilities of the human eye.
The debate started when full-HD screens came on smartphones, and many said that the difference was negligible. Matters intensified when Quad-HD displays came into the picture, and hit the boiling point when Sony revealed the Xperia Z5 Premium with a 4K Display.
We had to ask ourselves: Is 4K just a number for smartphones? There’s no denying that a 4K TV looks better, but when you put so many pixels into a small space (Like that of a smartphone display), would your eyes even be able to make out the difference?
We, for one, are not claiming that you can see a difference between a 4K and a quad-HD display (Or a full-HD display for that matter). The key point that many make is that to see a difference in a 4K display, you would have to get uncomfortably close to it. This does not happen during normal usage.
So where does a 4K smartphone make sense? Two words: Virtual Reality. Lets face it, innovation in smartphones has stagnated, and everything has become a spec-game. Virtual Reality can pump some life back into the smartphone industry.
Faster smartphones don’t matter in day to day usage, except with VR Headsets that demand pixel-perfect graphics with high framerates. Similarly, Virtual Reality Headsets need displays with very high pixel-densities, else they don’t manage to be immersive enough.
Virtual Reality is set to become the next big thing in the next few years, and while desktop-headsets like the Oculus Rift would surely be popular, there is a market for mobile VR Headsets like the Galaxy Gear VR.
These are simply ingenious: Using your smartphone, a comfortable headset and some lens-wizardry, they are able to replicate the Virtual Reality experience on the cheap.
Google Cardboard has already made strides as a dirt cheap mobile VR Headset, and as Virtual Reality itself grows more popular, the market for mobile VR would expand.
And for good Virtual Reality (Immersive without nausea), you need ultra-sharp displays. When you wear a mobile VR headset, you are extremely close to the display, and it is very easy to make out pixels in full-HD and quad-HD displays.
With 4K displays, you can get the ideal mobile VR experience, that manages to be immersive and fun. Of course, mobiles need to scale up in power before they can render Virtual environments in their full glory (And in 4K resolution), but the fact is that a 4K smartphone would make sense in the future.
Right now, there is no use for a 4K smartphone. 4K content is scarce, and on a smartphone, it won’t even make any difference. But when mobile VR takes off, we would see the true use of a 4K Smartphone.
What do you think? Still think 4K smartphones are useless?