A Guide to the Technology Behind IPS Display

A vector render of the iPhone 7 in the flagship Jet Black color.
A vector render of the iPhone 7 in the flagship Jet Black color. Wikimedia Commons

IPS stands for in-plane switching and is used with LCD screens to form IPS-LCD, which is a thin display that solves limitations in TFT-LCDs.

Some of the limitations of twisted nematic field effect matrix LCDs include low-quality color production and a dependency on viewing angle. IPS-LCDs, then, have better color reproduction and viewing angles.

IPS-LCDs are usually found on mid-range and high-end smartphones and portable devices.

All Retina Display Apple iPhones feature IPS-LCDs, as does the Motorola Droid and some TVs and tablets.

More Information on IPS Displays

IPS-LCDs feature two transistors for each pixel, where TFT-LCDs use just one. This requires a more powerful backlight, which delivers more accurate colors and lets the screen be viewed from a wider angle.

IPS-LCDs don't show when the screen has been touched, which you might notice in some older monitors. This is particularly advantageous when using touch screen displays like those on phones and touch screen laptops.

The downside is that an IPS-LCD might consume more power than a TFT-LCD, possibly up to 15% more. They're also more expensive to make and have longer response times.

IPS Development

IPS has gone through a number of developmental phases within Hitachi and LG Display.

  • Hitachi widened the viewing angle with Super TFT (IPS) in 1996
  • They also released Super-IPS (S-IPS) in 1998 to remove color shifting
  • 2001 is when Advanced Super-IPS (AS-IPS) improved transmittance from 100/100 (in 1996) to 130/250
  • Hitachi improved the contrast ratio in 2004, 2008 and 2010 with the releases of IPS-Provectus, IPS Alpha, and IPS Alpha next gen.

LG Display's IPS technology timeline looks like this:

  • Contrast ratio was improved in 2007 with Horizontal IPS (H-IPS)
  • Enhanced IPS (E-IPS) improved the viewing angle and reduced the response time to 5ms, while also widening the aperture for light transmission. It was released in 2009
  • 2010 saw Professional IPS (P-IPS) which offered over a billion colors and more orientations per pixel
  • LG Display released Advanced High-Performance IPS (AH-IPS) in 2011 to improve color accuracy, increase the resolution and provide more light when in lower power mode

IPS Alternatives

Samsung introduced Super PLS (Plane-to-Line Switching) in 2010 as an alternative to IPS. It's similar to IPS but with the added benefits of a better viewing angle, a brightness increase of 10%, a flexible panel, better image quality and a 15% lower cost than IPS-LCDs.

In 2012, AHVA (Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle) was introduced by AU Optronics to provide an IPS alternative that featured IPS-like panels but with higher refresh rates.