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Are 4K smartphones the biggest waste of money on the market?

Published Sep 7th, 2015 6:00PM EDT
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium 4K Display
Image: Sony

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Having a 4K smartphone may sound cool but can you actually tell the difference between a 4K smartphone display and a quad HD display? Mashable’s Ray Wong recently got to take a look at Sony’s new 4K smartphone and he honestly couldn’t tell the difference between a regular old high-definition phone and a 4K phone.

FROM EARLIER: Forget the iPhone 6s – insider report reveals key detail about next year’s iPhone 7

The story behind this is a little complicated: Wong and other reporters were given some hands-on time with a new Sony device that they believed to be a 4K phone but that was really just a phone with a 1080p display. Sony was displaying the actual 4K phone at its event in a separate exhibit, but it wasn’t letting any reporters touch them. Instead, they could just look at it from a safe distance to get a sense of how much “better” it was compared to the regular display.

“I love high-resolution screens as much as the next nerd, but we all know that most people can’t tell the difference between a 1080p display and a QuadHD display when holding their phones out at 10-12 inches (a length considered to be normal) from their face,” Wong writes. “And now Sony’s expecting people to be able to discern the difference between its even more pixel-dense 4K smartphone display and “conventional” phone displays, which I guess is what we’re calling full HD and Quad HD?”

While it sounds like 4K displays are indeed a pointless gimmick for smartphones, this still isn’t the most gimmicky product Sony has unveiled this year. No, that award goes to Sony’s memory card that costs $155 and offers “premium sound” for audiophiles. We wish we were kidding.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.


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