AMOLED good, LCD bad, right? When it comes to the Nexus One, things might not be so clear-cut. Frustrated by what he describes as “swizzled” edges to what should’ve been clean, crisp text and graphics, Nexus One owner Luke Hutchison took a magnifier to the smartphone’s AMOLED panel and discovered that while WVGA may be the resolution HTC and Google claim, the actual resolution could be more like 392 x 653.
That’s because of the way the display uses color in its pixels. It turns out that, rather than each pixel having all three color channels (red, blue and green) they actually have either a blue/green or red/green pair, with the blue or red pixel being double-width. The technology is called PenTile, and there are various justifications for using it that include apparently extending blue pixel longevity.
So, when you add up the number of RGB triplets on the display, you get the lower 392 x 653 resolution. That’s apparently why the Nexus One display – while brighter and richer in color than that of the LCD-based DROID – has text that is less sharp than the Motorola smartphone. There’s far more to it than that, of course, but the underlying issue is that the AMOLED display Google and HTC used doesn’t quite deliver what buyers probably thought they were getting.