What display to look for when buying an Android phone

There are many things you need to consider when buying a new Android phone. The display size and quality is an important factor you should consider if you want to get the most out of your new phone.

Most people keep phones for at least two years, so that’s a long time to be looking at the same display. If you forget to ensure the display is everything you need before buying a phone; you’ll have a long time being stuck with a phone that isn’t right for you.

The two main things to consider in relation to the display when buying an Android phone is the size and quality. It will, of course, depend a lot on how much you spend, so let’s take a look at what you should be looking for.


The display size you choose will depend on your budget and what you’ll be doing with your phone. If you’re buying a phone for making calls, receiving texts and occasionally using social media. Then it makes sense to opt for a smaller display size.

This is because they are generally cheaper than larger phones. Also, a large display will drastically increase the overall size of the phone. The great thing about a mobile phone is how portable it is. Phones with large screens can be a problem for some when it comes to how easy they are to put in your pocket.

However, if you’re someone who likes to spend a lot of time streaming movies or playing Android games. Then you’ll most likely be happier with a larger display. The trick is to get a display that is just right for your needs.

A large phablet type display is great for gamers on an Android phone
A large display is great for gamers


Display sizes on Android phones generally fall into three sections. You get the really small displays right up to the displays that are so large they are known as phablets.

They are called phablets because they are so big that they are nearly the size of a tablet. Let’s take a look at the typical sizes you’ll find when buying an Android phone.


If you’re looking for a small phone, which you’ll use primarily for making calls and receiving text messages. Then a phone with a display size of under 5-inches is a perfect choice.

These phones are compact enough to fit into the smallest of pockets. Compact phones are perfect if you need a phone but don’t want it to take up too much room.

There are some decent phones available with displays under 5-inches and they still provide the power needed for running your favourite apps.


A phone with a medium display is suitable for most people. They offer the perfect balance for someone who uses a phone for many different tasks.

The range of phones available in this display size range is vast, so you’ll have no problem finding a phone that suits your needs. They are perfect for most people because they work well with most Android apps including occasional gaming.

Also, even though they are bigger in size you’ll still be able to fit them into most pockets.

Display size is important when choosing an Android phone
A medium display is the most common for an Android phone


Phones with a display of 5.8-inches or more start to fall into the phablet category. For many people, these phones are simply too big to carry around with you all day long. They can also be difficult to use with just one hand.

However, they are the perfect choice for people who just love a big screen. If you’re mad about Android games or like watching movies when you’re out and about then a phablet may be right for you.

You’ll tend to find that more phones are now available in this size. This is usually because manufacturers have started to release the same phone with two display sizes to choose from. For example, Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL.

You will, however, notice this usually means the model with the larger display is more expensive than the smaller version. The good news is these larger phones usually have better battery life, as there is more room to add a battery providing more power.


When choosing a new Android phone the display size is important but you should not forget the display quality either. You’ll be spending a huge amount of time staring at your screen, so you need to ensure it’s something you don’t mind looking at regularly.

So what makes a decent display quality? Well, it can be a little tricky because all manufacturers will have their own technology, so you cannot compare one to the other that easily. However, you can look for certain things to make sure the display quality is decent enough for what you’re looking for.


The first thing you need to consider is the display resolution. If you want a semi-decent display the minimum you should be considering is full HD. A full HD display will come with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080.

If you’re shopping on a budget this is the resolution you should be aiming for. The resolution will also depend on the display size. If you have a small display with Full HD and a larger display with the same 1,920 by 1,080. Generally speaking, the full HD would look much better on the smaller screen.

This means if you’re going for a large phablet type display. You should ideally be trying to look for a resolution of more than Full HD.

High-spec phones also called flagship phones will usually always come with a much higher display than full HD. These phones will come with a resolution of anything between 2,560 by 1,440 and even right up to 3,840 by 2,160.

The resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 is known as QHD, which stands for Quad HD. This resolution for a mobile phone will offer superior display quality. A resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 is 4K, which you’ve probably heard of when looking at buying a TV.

Whether a phone will take advantage of a 4K display is another matter. It’s very unlikely you’d get the benefit of a 4K display on a mobile phone display. So you’ll be paying for the technology, but it’s unlikely going to be worth the extra money.


The display panel will have a huge impact on how good the display is. The most common displays you’ll find on an Android phone is LCD and AMOLED, but there are many others such as TFT, IPS, OLED and Super AMOLED.

You’ll also find combinations such as TFT-LCD or IPS-LCD. An IPS panel is better than a TFT panel because they provide more vibrant colours and viewing angles.

AMOLED offers a better experience than an LCD panel and are usually found in higher-spec Android phones. AMOLED provides real black in black scenes as opposed to a more unnatural black you’ll see when using an LCD panel.

The display panel will have a big impact on your Android phone display quality
An IPS display provides better viewing angles

However, AMOLED will tend to use more power than an LCD panel. So although they are better than LCD, you need to consider the battery as well when choosing an AMOLED display.

Some of the flagship phones use Super AMOLED, which provides an even better display than just AMOLED alone.


The refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz). The higher the refresh rate the better the display will perform when watching or playing fast-moving games. It’s not just limited to mobile phones either, as computer monitors and televisions also have a Hz rating.

A phone with a 60Hz refresh rate is the most common type you will see today. This means it will refresh whatever is displayed on the screen 60 times every second. Some phones offer 90Hz and we’re starting to see even higher than this from some manufacturers.

It’s not just about action-packed movies and fast-moving games though. Have you ever scrolled up and down on Facebook for example and found it’s very jerky and not very smooth?

This will most likely be because the phone has a lower hertz refresh rate. You’d notice this if using Facebook on a 60Hz compared to a 90Hz phone. So yes, the higher the Hz rate the better the experience.


The brightness of the display is something that is also important. It does not have a direct impact on quality. However, having a bright display is really important if you use your phone outside a lot.

Good brightness levels on your Android phone is needed when using in direct sunlight
A bright display will help in direct sunlight

This is even more important on sunny days. There is nothing more annoying than not being able to read what is on your phone because of direct sunlight. Using a higher brightness level will usually fix this.

The brightness level on a display is measured in nits and the higher the nit rating the brighter the display.


Choosing a display when buying a new Android phone can be difficult. Although we’ve looked at the different technologies in this article. It simply doesn’t give you the ability to know whether one display will be better than another.

It will give you a rough idea but manufacturers use different technology in their displays, so it really does differ from one phone to the next.

It’s always best to read a few reviews before buying a phone when it comes to the display. This way you’ll get a good understanding of whether a phone’s display is right for you.