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Sony: 2K smartphone screens are not worth the battery compromise

Luke Johnson


Sony Xperia Z3

With the Sony Xperia Z3 having failed to follow the LG G3 down the QHD display route, Sony has suggested adding a 2K screen to a phone is not worth the hit to battery life.

While some have been left disappointed by the iterative updates made to the newly confirmed Xperia Z3 over the Xperia Z2, Sony has claimed the omission of a 2K display is actually a benefit to consumers.

“Perhaps the most important thing to say about the screen is what we haven’t done,” Calum MacDougall, Sony’s Director of Xperia Marketing said speaking to TrustedReviews. “What we haven’t done is make it a 2K screen.

We have made the decision to continue with a Full HD, 1080p screen for the Xperia Z3, although we see in the marketplace some of our competitors bringing in 2K screens.

With the damaging affects to battery life the primary reason for this lack of technical progressions, MacDougall has suggested there are further thoughts behind not making the move to a 2K screen.

“Why have we made that decision? Well, there are three important reasons,” he told us.

“Firstly, if we think of this size of screen, even up to 8-inches, they are relatively small screens and it is very difficult for the human eye to discern the difference between 2K and Full HD.

“Thinking again about user-motivated innovation, we see from the user experience point of view that the differences are minimal, particularly if you add on top our Sony TV technologies which are reason number two.”

He added: “We have brought into the screen, as before, a Triluminous display for mobile which widens the colour gamut, X-Reality for mobile which is the equivalent of DSEHX for TV – it up-rates your pictures – and this gives us a 600 candela screen, a really bright, vivid screen with IPS that works in direct sunlight without having to implement a 2K screen.”

Finally, battery life is the key. With the Xperia Z3, Sony has managed to extend the staying power of its flagship phone to two days, a key benefit over rival devices.

“The final point goes back to battery consumption,” MacDougall said.

“If we believe that a key part of the user experience for consumers is to have a longer term battery, and if we believe we can deliver a great screen with Full HD and our Sony technologies, we don’t believe the trade-off between having a 2K screen and battery consumption is the right trade-off for a consumer.”

Would you rather a two day battery or a 2K display? Let us know via the comments section below.

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September 4, 2014, 6:15 am

i tend to agree.

Prem Desai

September 4, 2014, 7:36 am

I actually agree with Sony.

There is a visible difference between an HD and QHD screen - however, you would really need to see them side by side to appreciate it.

In actual use, on a day to day basis, you won't even notice it.

QHD bring its own issues - battery life and cost. I'm guessing they're more fragile too (happy to be corrected on this).

Sandy Smith

September 4, 2014, 9:54 am

I agree with Sony, but as an Xperia Z owner I hope that, one, they have ditched the shatter-proof film that scratches too easy and two, the screens don't crack in your pocket, I am awaiting my 4th repair, forget water and dust just make it pocket proof :D

I'm in the market for an update and like Sonys software so this is up my street but am tempted by other brand in the hope of robustness.

Damon Ganto

September 4, 2014, 11:26 am

Says Sony, the company that produced the Vaio 15, which has a battery life of under 2 hours because they didn't bother to put more than 2 li cells in it.


September 4, 2014, 12:12 pm

Smart Move Sony!


September 4, 2014, 12:25 pm

Sony is absolutely correct. I was planning on a Moto X+1 or Nexus x, but 1) I don't want a huge monster of a phone, and 2) Battery life is MUCH more important than pixel density.
Therefore, my next phone will be a Z3 Compact.

I think Sony will win over a lot of customers with this customer-oriented attiude.

Philip Carlin

September 4, 2014, 12:49 pm

Personally think the 1920 (FullHD) resolution is more than adequate for smartphones, plus being a resolution standard for video is a positive for it as well (going beyond that resolution means that the source material is most likely just being upscaled, meaning you won't be getting any extra benefit).

Also as Sony stated, battery life is also a concern so why add something that will drain the battery faster and not really give the customer any benefit.


September 4, 2014, 1:55 pm

battery ftw

Paul Pardo

September 4, 2014, 2:02 pm

So it's not okay to learn from your mistakes and correct them? Okay.

Besides, I doubt the team that makes the laptops also make the phones.


September 4, 2014, 2:03 pm

Once you hit the resolution of full HD, then I really don't see the point to go higher on a small screen at the expense of battery performance. One of my favorite features of my current phone is that i can use it for all of my general daily activities and typically only need to charge it every other day (with a few exceptions). Even on heavy use (except GPS and certain games) I never end up with a situation where I have to charge the device before I get home. I think if I could have that by keeping the current 1080p screen I would.

Matthew Ferenc

September 4, 2014, 2:28 pm

Battery life > resolution


September 4, 2014, 3:23 pm

I took off my shatter proof film as soon as I unboxed it. Dropped it several times and not even got a scratch. Like you say, I hope they just leave it off next time so I don't have to fiddle with a needle.


September 4, 2014, 3:46 pm

"Would you rather a two day battery or a 2K display?"
7 days battery please. Don't care about display larger than 4" and those fancy "high" resolutions. Tools, not toys.

Damon Ganto

September 4, 2014, 4:21 pm

They didn't bother at all about battery life pretty much forever. Twisting putting a 2k screen (that can probably run in 1080p mode) on a phone into "it saves battery life" is a marketing stunt and an excuse directed at the "2k phone enthusiast" and nothing else. Besides: 2k on a phone? Can I have it get cheap on monitors first?

Saieash Mohanadas

September 4, 2014, 4:35 pm

I was thinking the exact same thing - until I realised that the Z3 compact has a 720p display. imo 1080p should be the standard regardless of screen size just because all the content is in that resolution.

I just want to phone manufacturer to make a phone that does everything every other high end smartphone does - great specs, awesome build quality and if possible, stock android on a device with a screen size 4.7" or less. It can't be that hard to make.

Lisa Naarseth Myklebust

September 4, 2014, 6:37 pm

Full HD is 2K. What is Sony going on about?

QHD, of the type LG has brought in, is 2,5K.


September 4, 2014, 7:01 pm

Exactly. I'm surprised noone mentioned this before you did. I was under the impression Sony stuck with a 720p screen before they mentioned the 1080p.

To get things straight: 2K is because of the 1920 in the 1920x1080 of 1080p. 2.5K is because of the 2560x1440 in 1440p. This all relates to the 4K which started the K-notation, in which the 4K stands for 3840 in 3840x2160, which is close to 4000. 4K in the p-notation is known as 2160p.

Goran Gligorin

September 4, 2014, 7:08 pm

First of all 2K is 1080p. What this article really means is 2.5K, which is 1440p (2560x1440). 2K monitors are quite cheap now a days, even the good ones. Even 2.5K Korean monitors are quite inexpensive. But in regards to Sony, I think they're correct in sticking to the 2K screen on a mobile phone. I have a Nexus 5 and it's a great resolution. I wouldn't mind seen 2.5K or even higher on tablets though.


September 4, 2014, 7:21 pm

So once the content becomes increasingly 4K, you are going to want a 4K phone, on the same argument?


September 4, 2014, 7:50 pm

Lots of 'experts' telling us what the human eye can and can not discern. I'm inclined to believe all of them, no, really. But maybe TR could live up to its name and actually review, nay, objectively test, the differences. I do mean in a proper way - the reviewer must not be able to know what display they are examining and rating during the test.

Come on TR, rise above the crowd, step away from all the meaningless subjective appreciation of displays and give us something objective, meaningful and robust.

Lisa Naarseth Myklebust

September 4, 2014, 8:23 pm

Think of it this way: 1920 + the additional 80 in 1080 makes it 2000x1000 = 2K.

3840 + the additional 160 in the 2160 makes it 4000x2000 = 4K.

The "K" is simply a description of the number of pixels on the longest side (usually horizontal).

Many people have the impression that it says 4K because it is 4 times as much as HD. That's not the case (but it is still 4 times as much, as 4000 times 1000 pixels is 4 times as much as 2000 times 1000 pixels).


September 4, 2014, 8:45 pm

That's actually incorrect.

First you can't just move pixels from width to height. That doesn't make any sense. The fact that they fit is more or less just a coincidence. In reality 4K standard isn't just the 3840x2160, but there's a bunch of them, with 4096x2160 actually being the dominant one. That one isn't a 16:9 aspect ratio and older content wouldn't scale as nicely, the 3840 pixels wide variant stuck. And of course marketing people don't really bother with details so they labeled it as 4K.

Secondly, the K in 4K is derived from the kilo unit prefix in the metric measurement system and means a thousand. Because of that 2000x1000 would actually make 2 million or 2000k.

Also, not that HD is not the same as Full HD. HD alone is actually 720p. Because of that the 2.5K monitors with the resolution of 2560x1440 are called Quad HD (QHD for short).

Lisa Naarseth Myklebust

September 4, 2014, 8:51 pm

The end resolt of adding 1920 with 1080 is the same. The point i was trying to make was that the end result of numbers are very round. And the numbers representer the number of pixels on each side, and therefore the "K" description is right. When you add them together you get the total number of pixels, instead of just lenght and height, which was what I was talking about.


September 4, 2014, 8:52 pm

I'd much rather have the longer battery life.


September 4, 2014, 8:58 pm

You don't add the width and the height, you multiply them. That's why there's the 'x' sign there. It represents multiplication. In a 1920x1080 screen there's 2,073,600 total pixels.

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