In a lot of ways it’s a toss-up between AMOLED screens and LCDs. The deep blacks on AMOLED screens are wonderful, but the oversaturated colors are not everybody’s cup of tea, as is the fact that less protective layers are needed, and the interface appears as printed on the surface of the device. The sunlight legibility beats most regular LCD screens, but is in turn eclipsed by transflective LCDs. Energy consumption is lower than for LCDs when lots of black and dark colors are used, but when browsing the web with mostly white web pages this advantage is lost. In these respects, AMOLED is a question of usage scenarios, and, more importantly, taste.
The reason I’m firmly in the AMOLED camp is a single feature that Nokia have implemented on their phones with AMOLED screens, and which can’t possibly be replicated on a LCD screen: the lock-screen clock. It takes very few dots to make our pattern recognition kick in and see shapes – in this case a display of the current time. With AMOLED pixels are lit individually, so these very few dots consume very little energy. With a LCD, where the screen is backlit as a whole, this display of the time would necessitate the screen being permanently on – and kill the battery in no time.
Not having to press a button on the phone to see the time might seem like a small thing, and it is, when taken as a single action. Summed up across a day, a week, a device lifetime of use, it adds up to a substantial advantage. But it’s not just saving a few thousand taps on a button – it changes the nature of the time telling. Not requiring any interaction is a fundamental difference from requiring even the simplest one. It is no longer just a device that can tell you time when you request this information. The fact that all you need to look, that the time is right there for you to see makes the phone into a real replacement for a watch and a clock.