"Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee"Heavyweight Boxer Cassius Clay who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, described his fighting style with the words: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". Another contender with heavyweight specifications but a lightweight body, is the HTC J Butterfly smartphone with a 5-inch screen putting it directly into a form-factor classification known as phablets. The J Butterfly joins the Oppo Find 5 in a rarefied, but soon to explode category, of full-HD, 1,080p, high-resolution smartphones that make Apple Inc.'s so-called "retina display" look like last year's obsolete technology.
Considering the slow pace of Apple's iPhone releases by comparison to other manufacturers, the situation is serious enough to make Apple's top executives cringe at what could become a flock of smartphones released before the next generation iPhone, with displays that are vastly superior to Apple's current iPhone 5.
The Eyes Have ItEven more important than display size, the primary feature that determines perception of quality in a display screen is the PPI density (Pixels Per Inch). Recently this writer covered a 651 PPI, 2.3-inch display by Japan Display Inc. (JDI) that appears to be only a research and development device for now. That display offers almost precisely twice the PPI of Apple's iPhone 5, but does not pose an immediate threat for three reasons. First: it is not nearly large enough for most device applications. Second: the current state of graphics hardware and software operating systems are not capable of controlling the total number of pixels that 651 PPI would generate on larger displays. Third: software developers have not written enough code for controlling such large total pixel counts. The upshot is that it will probably be twelve to eighteen months before consumer devices with 651 PPI displays of five-inches and larger become available to the public.
The Future Threat to Apple Arrives in 2012[caption id="attachment_8073" align="alignright" width="300"] HTC J Butterfly[/caption] Apple's "retina display" provides only 326 PPI by comparison to 440 to 443 PPI displays on smartphones that will be released in the immediate future. Those new display screens bring a 35% improvement in pixel density over Apple's "retina display". The HTC J Butterfly will probably be released in Japan before the end of 2012, with a later arrival in the USA, accompanied by a change of name better attuned to U.S. markets. A release date for the Oppo Find 5 has not been announced, but it's only a few months away at most, and may be available to consumers before the end of 2012.
Incoming Barrage of 440 - 443 PPI Full-HD 1,080p DisplaysLG is the company that will provide full-HD screens for the Oppo Find 5, and without any doubt to several other companies by early 2013. Sharp Corporation is producing its own 5-inch full-HD (1,080 x 1,920 pixels) LCD panels for smartphones utilizing CG-Silicon (Continuous-Grain Silicon) technology and a new pixel design.
AssessmentIt's reasonable to expect most smartphone manufacturers to make products using 440 - 443 PPI display screens from LG, Sharp, or other sources within a matter of months. Apple Inc. may want to hide in a bunker and batten down the hatches, because if pixels were projectiles, Apple would be punched full of holes.
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