Screen resolution has been a differentiator for phone manufacturers ever since Steve Jobs pulled the Retina Display gag on the world with the iPhone 4. We’ve seen devices jump to 720p, 1080p and now QuadHD as manufacturers are able to squeeze more and more sub-pixels onto smaller displays. We’ve even, briefly, seen a 4K display from Sony, in the Xperia Z5 Premium.
The truth is that the law of diminishing returns means these screens don’t really add a great deal to the phone’s capabilities, especially when the cost of additional power drain is considered.
So there’s a highly dubious claim that the Galaxy S8 will sport a 4K display when it arrives in 2017 doing the rounds at the moment. Aside from the obvious reasons why this might not be the case – cost, battery consumption, limited (read zero) improved perception of screen sharpness when compared to QuadHD – there is also one very good reason why Samsung may decide that its new phones will need to come packing such high-resolution screens.
The current Gear VR headset is the best selling true VR setup on the market. However the success that HTC appears to be having with the Vive suggests that there is a massive and barely tapped market for VR headsets.
The biggest issue with the Gear VR is screen resolution of the phones it supports. Samsung phones running at QuadHD look great to the naked eye, but magnified by the VR’s lens setup you can start to pick out individual pixels quite clearly.
That blockiness somewhat impinges on the otherworldly experience the VR creates and offering a handset with significantly more numerous and smaller pixels will ease that effect, if not erase it completely.
However that doesn’t mean that the screen will run at full resolution permanently. I suspect that in order to improve the battery life and also reduce heat issues, the Galaxy S8 will run as a normal QuadHD device except when plugged into the Gear VR.
Its not a cast iron guarantee, but it seems the only plausible reason for spending so much money for so little return.