HTC has published the User Agent Prof file for the HTC M8, which is the successor of HTC’s flagship from last year, the HTC One. It seems that it won’t be getting a 1440p panel like some high-end phones are expecting to get this year. Instead, it will get the same resolution as last year, 1080p.
So why did HTC decide to go with the same resolution if others like Samsung want to move to 1440p and even 2160p for mobile phones soon? The reason is the 1080p resolution was already thought to be more than enough, and way beyond “retina”, the standard for crisp high-resolution displays.
Moving to higher resolutions means that instead of using a cheaper panel this year (since costs fall every year), they would be using one that is at least as expensive as the one from last year. That may not be a huge problem with it’s expected to improve certain components as much as possible every year, like say the camera component, but it is a problem when you don’t have to do it anymore. At that point it just takes money that could be used to improve other components.
That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be using newer, more efficient, and higher-quality panels that perhaps are better in bright sunlight, too. But it does mean they should stop increasing the resolution and making the panel unnecessarily more expensive. Higher resolution panels also means it unnecessarily requires a larger battery, too, because panel efficiency usually doesn’t rise by 100 percent every year. So if you double the pixels, but the panel isn’t twice as efficient, then it will be less efficient overall, than the one you used last year.
Another issue with higher resolution panels is that they keep gaming graphics standing still. Instead of getting better looking games, you’re going to get games that looked the same as last year. Even if mobile GPUs get twice as fast every year (which they tend to do), that’s cancelled out by the fact that the pixels needed to be processed have almost doubled, too.
As you can see there are many issues with needlessly increasing resolution in smartphones “just because we can”, and at some point other things become more important than keeping increasing that resolution. HTC seems to have realized this, and hopefully we’ll get a really good camera this year in return, or something else to wow us.