8 Popular Smartwatch Display Types with their Pros and Cons

While selecting a smartwatch, one of the most important factors you should consider is the type of display. A smartwatch with a good display is necessary because it is the main way to interact with your smartwatch. If the display is not up to the mark, it can result in a bad user experience.

Smartwatch Display Types

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8 Popular Smartwatch Display Types

There are currently eight popular types of displays used in smartwatches: AMOLED, OLED, LED, E-Ink Displays, etc. Each display has pros and cons that you should be aware of before purchasing.

1. AMOLED Display Smartwatch Display

Apple Watch Ultra

AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) displays are the newest type of display available in expensive smartwatches and other high-end gadgets. These displays are made up of tiny organic polymers that emit light when electricity is passed through them.

AMOLED displays are known for their excellent image quality and high contrast ratios. It can also display intense blacks and vibrant colors. They also have high contrast ratios, meaning the difference between the screen’s darkest black and the brightest white will be more pronounced. This can make the text or images on an AMOLED display easier to read.

AMOLED displays are also very power-efficient! Since black pixels on an AMOLED display are actually turned off, it can save some battery power on your device. However, there are some drawbacks to AMOLED displays. One is that these displays can suffer from image retention or “ghosting.” This occurs when a static image is displayed on the screen for too long and leaves a faint imprint of that image even after it’s been turned off.

Another problem with AMOLED displays is that they gradually degenerate over time. This means the display will slowly lose its ability to produce bright colors and deep blacks. Because of its excellent display quality, high-end smartwatches use AMOLED displays. Here are a few examples:

  • Google Pixel Watch
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
  • Fitbit Sense 2 and Sense
  • Amazfit GTR 2e Smart Watch

Pros of AMOLED Smartwatch Display

  • High picture quality
  • High resolution and pixel quality
  • Energy efficient
  • Always-on Display

Cons of AMOLED Smartwatch Display

  • Expensive
  • Images may retention

Overall, AMOLED is the display technology, offering benefits such as low power consumption and a sleek look.

2. OLED Smartwatch Display

Garmin Vivosmart 5

OLED displays are cutting-edge display technology. Rather than using the traditional method of flat, liquid crystal screens that require a backlight, OLED screens work by placing thin organic films between a series of conductors. When electrical current is applied to these films, bright light is emitted due to a simple design. This results in modern and energy-efficient displays, making them ideal for smartwatches and other devices.

Additionally, OLED displays are highly customizable and can be designed to emit light in specific areas or to produce vibrant color combinations that wouldn’t be possible with older technologies.

The new Garmin Vivosmart 5 comes with an OLED display.

Pros of OLED Smartwatch Display

  • Excellent image quality with high contrast and vibrant colors
  •  Energy-efficient
  • Customizable design
  • No need for a backlight
  • Thin and lightweight

Cons of OLED Smartwatch Display

  • Short lifetime
  •  Expensive than LCD
  • Poor visibility under sunlight

3. LCD Smartwatch Display

Smartwatch with LCD Display

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, one of the most common types of display found in smartwatches. The LCD screens use liquid crystals to create images on a screen, and thin-film transistors control the liquid crystals, allowing a high degree of image control. This makes LCD screens great for displaying pictures and videos.

The LCD screens are not as saturated as AMOLED screens, resulting in lower quality images and texts compared to the AMOLED. However, it can still show pictures in bright colors and is less expensive to produce. 

Plus, the power consumption of LED screens is generally higher than AMOLED screens. Because of this, watchmakers generally do not offer an always-on display mode in their smartwatches with LCD screens, and Garmin Venu Sq has an LCD screen.

Pros of LCD Smartwatch Display

  •  Better outdoor visibility
  • Lower price

Cons of LCD Smartwatch Display

  • Lower image quality
  •  Higher power consumption

4. TFT LCD Smartwatch Display

Realme Watch S with TFT Display

A thin-film-transistor liquid crystal display, or TFT-LCD, is a type of LCD that utilizes thin-film transistor (TFT) technology to increase the display quality. This LCD type features higher resolutions and faster response times than traditional LCDs, making them an ideal choice for electronic devices such as smartphones and televisions. In addition, TFT-LCDs consume less power and are less prone to issues like color shifting and ghosting, which can sometimes occur with traditional LCDs and even AMOLED displays.

Overall, TFT-LCDs represent a step forward in screen technology, offering image quality and performance that were once thought impossible for a standard LCD screen. The Realme Watch S comes with a TFT LCD that offers excellent image quality and performance.

Pros of TFT LCD Smartwatch Display

  • Affordable
  • Better image and text quality than the LCDs
  • Low power consumption

Cons of TFT LCD Smartwatch Display 

  • The image quality still isn’t as good as an OLED display
  • Low Viewable Angle
  • May suffer from screen burn-in over time

5. Transflective LCD in Smartwatches

Amazfit Bip comes with a Transflective LCD display

Transflective LCD is a reflective and transmissive LCD mixture, making it more efficient than either type alone. In transmissive mode, light passes through the display from the backlight and then through the image on the screen.

In the transflective display type, light bounces off the screen’s surface like a mirror, which is why it offers better visibility in direct sunlight. However, the visibility in low light is not as good as that of a transmissive LCD.

Smartwatches with Transflective LCDs are energy efficient and commonly found in smartwatches with longer battery life. For instance, the Amazfit Bip has a Transflective LCD display and offers a whopping 45 days of battery life.

Pros of Transflective LCD in Smartwatches

  •  Offer better visibility under direct sunlight
  • Power-efficient
  • Low manufacturing cost

Cons of Transflective LCD in Smartwatches

  •  Poor visibility indoors

6. Transflective Memory-in-Pixel (MIP)

Transflective Memory-in-Pixel (MIP)

A transflective MIP display is a type of display technology used in most Garmin wearables, such as Fenix 6, Fenix 7, Forerunner 945, etc. This type of display does not have high image quality as AMOLED displays, and the color reproduction is also not very good. However, transflective MIP displays have the advantage of being able to support an always-on display feature, which can be helpful for some users.

In addition, transflective MIP displays are very reliable in direct sunlight, making them suitable for use in outdoor environments. Transflective MIP displays are more energy efficient than AMOLED and other display types.

Pros of Transflective Memory-in-Pixel (MIP)

  • Always-on display feature
  • Good sunlight visibility
  •  Energy efficient

Cons of Transflective Memory-in-Pixel (MIP) 

  • Lower resolution than AMOLED
  • Colors are not as rich as AMOLED

7. E-Ink Display

E-Ink Display

E-Ink displays are a screen that utilizes electronic ink closely resembling text on a printed page. They are designed to be energy-efficient and easy to read in many different lighting conditions. Since it is black and white, they are rarely used in smartwatches.

Furthermore, E-Ink display is gradually disappearing from the market as newer display types emerge. However, it is still used in kindle e-readers and some entry-level smartwatches. The Fossil Men’s Collider Hybrid Smartwatch uses an E-Ink display, and it comes with longer battery life but poor display quality.

Pros of E-Ink Display

  • Energy efficient
  •  Easy to read
  • Sharp display

Cons of E-Ink Display

  • Limited to black and white
  • No color displays

Which is the best Smartwatch display for you?

It really depends on your needs and preferences. A smartwatch with an AMOLED display offers excellent image quality, color reproduction, and contrast ratio. However, they are not as power-efficient as other display types. Additionally, smartwatches with AMOLED displays are more expensive than other types.

MIP or Transflective LCD is a good option for those needing an energy-efficient and affordable smartwatch. They do not have the same image quality as AMOLED displays, but they are much more power-efficient.

Final Words

Finally, it is totally up to you to decide which is the best smartwatch display type. If you are looking for a more feature-rich smartwatch, you should go for AMOLED or OLED displays.

But, if you prioritize battery life over other features, you should opt for transflective MIP or E-Ink displays. They are also energy efficient and easy to read.

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