Mobile Devices with 4K Screens Expected to top 478 million Units by 2019

by on August 15, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – August 15th, 2014

The current Upper end of the display technology found in the very best smartphones on the market in 2014 is 2K or Quad HD screen display resolution that gives users roughly 2048 × 1536 pixels of display clarity instead of the previous high end of Full HD at 1920 x 1080 pixels.

However, according to technology research firm ABI, the shift towards 4K as the absolute premium in smartphone displays will start happening in early 2015. 4K offers a resolution of 3,830 x 2,160 pixels.

Given these massive pixel counts on such small mobile device screens, this resolution race among manufacturers of high end consumer electronics is more about marketing and differentiation than any genuinely visible difference in display qualities. Furthermore, given the still ongoing scarcity of native 4K content for any device, whether it be a TV, PC monitor or smartphone screen, any devices with these screen resolutions will not upscale normal HD content in any sort of visually visible way, at least to a normal human eyeball.

According to senior analyst at ABI Michael Inouye, “While some content owners and broadcasters have or are preparing to launch 4K programming, video resolution delivered to mobile devices will continue to lag behind screen pixel densities. While mobile device components such as processor, memory and in some cases batteries are gearing up to handle 4K, network and infrastructure elements remain challenging.”

He also explained that many key video to mobile services still actually deliver content to smartphones in SD format, which isn’t even at the level of conventional HD. This, according to Inouye, is largely due to very weak consumer demand for huger resolutions on their small screens, particularly over existing wireless networks and WiFi connections, which would have a very hard time even handling 4K video.

However, given that many higher end smart phones already do have 4K capable cameras –including models from Samsung, Sony, LG and Acer—many users of mobile devices with actual 4K screens could benefit from them in the form of massive amounts of user generated content that they create themselves or download to their phones via HDMI 2.0 cable from another source.

An excellent example of this kind of user generated content is the popularity of GoPro broadcasting, which uses the popular 4K action video cameras to create spectacular footage of high intensity sports activities.

When it comes to this kind of user generated content on smartphones, there are indicators of high user demand, and for this reason, some mobile device makers are looking at the possibility of using LTE Broadcast technology as an outlet for next generation video broadcasting to mobile. This technology relies on HEVC, which should make the burden of transmitting ultra-high resolution lighter by a certain margin.

For now, the major focus amongst streaming and OTT video services is to make delivery to 4K TVs work well and smoothly while delivering only HD level content to smartphones. However, if the predictions of more than 470 million smartphones with 4K screens being in use by 2019 come true, the pressure for effective broadcasting of native 4K content will mount, possibly enough for serious breakthroughs that make 4K to wireless devices feasible within the next 5 years.


Story by

Be the first to comment!
Leave a reply »


Leave a Response