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QHD may be power hungry, but it may make tiny text a bit more readable -- cue the inevitable debate

Frequent Twitter leaker @evleaks is best known for his Windows Phone leaks, but he also often has the goods on Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android, as well.

I. LG Isai FL == LG G3?

This week he posted a pair of tweets about a new Android smartphone from South Korea's LG Electronics, Inc. (KRX:066570)(KRX:066575).  He refers to the device as the LG Isai FL, and shows it in blue and white:
The phone is reportedly debuting on the network of Japan's KDDI Corp. (TYO:9433).  KDDI -- which also owns the local UQ Communications network -- is currently in third place in the tight Japanese telecom race, behind NTT Docomo Inc. (TYO:9437) (in first) and Softbank Corp. (TYO:9984) (in second).
 
Unlike domestic rival and world smartphone leader Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) which typically introduces products first in either its home country (South Korea) or in the U.S., LG often uses the Japanese market as a test bed for its upcoming smartphone designs, as they get up to speed volume-wise.
 
Last year saw the LG G2, which debuted in August 2013 under its official name.  In that case the Japanese market was a bit behind the curve; the LG G2 would be rebranded as the LG L22 or LG "Isai" a month later in Oct. 2013.
 
The name was typically spelled in Japanese letters, rather than Kanji, leaving it ambiguous which of the three meanings -- "conspicuous color", "details/particulars" or "prodigy/man of genius" -- the name meant.
 
This year it looks like Japan may be getting a leg up on the U.S. when it comes to the LG G3.  Reportedly the Isai FL (aka the LG L24) is the LG G3.  The screen on the leaked shots reads "May 1st" hinting at when it may be announced.

LG G3
The LG G3 will be coming in gold, apparently. [Image Source: The Verge]

The Verge reports that outside of Japan it is being developed under the code name "B2" and is "set for a summer release."  They got their hands on a product box that's rather golden.  And they say to expect a golden model variant, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Apple, Inc. (AAPL) iPhone 5S.
 
II. Screen Resolution vs. Battery Life -- The Contentious Leap to "2K"
 
Lastly, Ubergizmo is reporting that the new phone pack a quad high-definition (QHD) (2560x1440 pixels).  QHD is commonly referred to as "2K", and is the next step up the screen resolution ladder, from 1080p (1920x1080 pixels), the current ubiquitous standard in the high-end smartphone market.  If true, this would be a first for a mass market U.S. release.  
 
We do know, however, that QHD is incoming to the smartphone market.  China's OPPO Electronics Corp. was the first major device maker to announce a device with QHD with the Oppo Find 7.

OPPO Find 7
The Oppo Find 7

The Find 7 will surely make a stir when it debuts in coming months. However, that device's 5.5-inch QHD LCD panel reportedly illustrates why others like Samsung have been slow to adopt QHD.  The device reportedly needs a whopping 3000 mAh battery to deliver a 13 hour talk time.  Contrast that with the HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) HTC One Max, which has a larger screen (5.9-inches, 1080p), and only a slightly larger batter (3300 mAh) but still manages to near double the Find 7's talk time (HTC One Max: 25 hours).
 
QHD LCD displays are clearly very power hungry.
 
In OPPO's case, the plan appears to be to offset that with the new 4x charging speed technology -- whose full name is "voltage opened loop and multi-step constant current charging", and has the more manageable abbreviation "VOOC".  VOOC promises to charge that 3000 mAh cell to 75 percent, so a quick refresh on the way to work may be enough to help your QHD phone survive the day.
 
(Remember, 13 hours of official capacity will quickly deteriorate in a year or so to as little as several hours worth.)
 
Vivo -- another Chinese manufacturer -- has a similar device called the Xplay 3S on the market currently in China, which features a 6-inch QHD display, a 3200 mAh battery, and similar battery difficulties.  Vivo offers up this justification of going 2K, examining the aforementioned improvement in text rendering:

QHD benefits
QHD, aka "2K" -- 2560 x 1440 pixel displays -- bring crisp text rendering to phablet (5-to-6 inch) form factors. [Image Source: Viva on Weibo]

Alternatively, a designer like LG might be looking to avoid this problem by using an OLED QHD panel.  That would obviously be an expensive solution, but it could spare the user a lot of headaches that even VOOC can't fully mitigate.
 
Of course the inevitable debate will be whether we truly need a 2K display in such a small device, when laptops are only starting to get these kinds of resolutions in mass market designs.  The high resolution could make text more readable or help with other applications where true rendering trumps anti-aliasing fallbacks to some extent.  However, many users may notice little difference versus 1080p, but notice a big difference in terms of inferior battery life.  Unfortunately for those unhappy with that trade off, all the market's top players appear headed towards QHD adoption.
 
Ubergizmo also reports that the phone will pack an octacore 32-bit Snapdragon 801 chip from Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM).

Sources: @evleaks on Twitter, The Verge, Ubergizmo



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Battery life
By GTRagnarok on 4/16/2014 8:18:27 PM , Rating: 4
However, that device's 5.5-inch QHD LCD panel reportedly illustrates why others like Samsung have been slow to adopt QHD. The device reportedly needs a whopping 3000 mAh battery to deliver a 13 hour talk time. Contrast that with the HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) HTC One Max, which has a larger screen (5.9-inches, 1080p), and only a slightly larger batter (3300 mAh) but still manages to near double the Find 7's talk time (HTC One Max: 25 hours)

Why would screen resolution matter during a call when the screen is off anyway? That 13 hour talk time is either wrong or obtained from a very different testing methodology. Or maybe Oppo just really screwed up.




RE: Battery life
By chµck on 4/16/2014 8:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe in speakerphone mode?
I agree though, it is kinda useless to measure the battery life impact of a higher resolution display through talk time.


RE: Battery life
By retrospooty on 4/16/2014 8:26:20 PM , Rating: 3
A lot of variables, some is design, some software, and some of it is poorly thought through testing methodology. I wouldn't worry about it until the G3 is in the hands of a few trusted reviewers and then we will see the battery life. The G2 battery is tremendous. I don't think they will take a step back with the G3. Going from 960x540 to 1280x720 to 1920x1080 hasnt brought the curve down on battery life, in fact it got better due to other factors. I expect that trend to continue.


RE: Battery life
By geddarkstorm on 4/16/2014 10:05:33 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Backlight management is the most crucial part of screen drain anyways. More power efficient LED backlights really abrogate the problem of denser screens needing more light.


RE: Battery life
By TSS on 4/17/2014 2:51:05 AM , Rating: 2
Regardless the testing methodology it's bound to be in that ballpark anyway. They can try to software optimise all they want, simple math shows 2560x1440 = ~3.7 million pixels while 1920x1080 = ~2 million pixels.

Whatever test they use that utilizes the screen constantly, it'll always end up to be slightly more then half that of 1080p phones. If they tested this with the screen on all the time the performance vs the HTC One Max is pretty impressive.

Purely because of pixels you'd expect 13 vs 25 hours, but the Oppa has a snapdragon 800 vs a snapdragon 600 in the HTC. The 800 is "upto 2.3 Ghz" while the 600 in the Max is 1,7 Ghz. Add the 300 mAh extra battery size ontop of that and it's pretty good.

Yknow... as long as ya trust official numbers.


RE: Battery life
By theapparition on 4/17/2014 10:51:13 AM , Rating: 2
This is so not true. Rough estimate is the backlight is 75% of a panels consumption. The pixels themselves are rather low power. Doubling current draw for the pixels only would incur about 25% more power draw since the backlight power remains the same.

OLED is a bit different, but still not going to take anywhere near double power. Probably closer to 40% more.


Can't reveal much but
By Doh! on 4/17/2014 12:02:19 AM , Rating: 3
I can tell you LG Isai FL is NOT G3. That model is exclusively for the Japanese market and will not be launched outside of Japan.




RE: Can't reveal much but
By karimtemple on 4/17/2014 9:51:07 AM , Rating: 2
Thank God because those little buttons look like a terrible idea. And that's coming from someone who owns and loves the G2.


Panel Technology
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2014 8:20:53 AM , Rating: 2
Depending on panel technology, there doesn't necessarily have to be a trade-off between resolution and battery usage.

The iPad Air uses an IGZO display that uses 57% less power than older models. However the Kindle Fire HDX has an LTPS display that uses 30% less power than the iPad Air.

If similar technologies come to OLED panels, which is only a matter of time, we'll not have to be concerned about this trade-off.




GPU vs Display power draw
By siconik on 4/17/2014 8:43:34 AM , Rating: 2
I would imagine that the increased power consumption of the devices with higher-resolution displays would be primarily due to increased GPU workload needed to drive them VS the panel itself.




QHD is pointless
By MABManZ on 4/18/2014 9:25:59 PM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one who thinks this race to higher resolutions on 5-inch screens is ridiculously stupid? I'm still rocking a phone with 800x480 res and have never had problems reading text in any app.

Not saying there's no image quality difference; there definitely is. But I'd rather have a 950x540 phone with the same specs as these new phones and get like 80 hours of talk time.




Do better than this.
By McGaiden on 4/17/14, Rating: 0
"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer














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