Display Terminology: ‘AMOLED’

I was watching The Verge’s OnePlus 5 review on YouTube, but when Dan Seifert began going through the specs of the display and mentioned the OnePlus 5 having a 5.5-inch ‘AMOLED’ display (around the 1:00 minute mark) I became a little perturbed. I have several pet peeves when it comes to display terminology and this is one of them. Let me explain.

AMOLED. It stands for Active Matrix OLED (OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode). OLED displays in modern smartphones, tablets, laptops, monitors, TVs, etc. are almost all of the active matrix variety. The other older, less-used technology is passive matrix, but it’s been a long time since I have been exposed to a modern device sporting a PMOLED display.

Let’s use an example from the automotive industry. What would your response be if Car and Driver mentioned that the new 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS features an insane 700-horsepower turbocharged 3.6-liter flat-six fuel-injected engine? (What an engineering marvel, by the way!) Sure, there are engines without fuel injection… are there? Any cars with an engine without fuel injection? Probably not. You’d probably react, “That’s kinda weird. Why mention it’s fuel injected? Are there any modern car engines without fuel injection?” Your reaction would be appropriate since the fuel-injected part of a gasoline engine specification is assumed, and rightly so since almost all modern engines feature fuel injection. You might also start wondering if Porsche made gasoline engines without fuel injection.

Back to ‘AMOLED’. Is AM necessary, or even desirable? Absolutely not; it can be safely assumed when mentioning a modern smartphone features an OLED display that it is an active matrix OLED. Few occasions would warrant pointing out the active matrix-ness of an OLED display: when you’re comparing it to a passive matrix OLED display. And how often does that happen?

So why do knowledgeable technology sites like The Verge continue to mention the active matrix portion of an OLED display? Maybe out of habit. Or not being as anal about terminology as folks like me. Perhaps both. Utter AMOLED to long-time professionals in the display industry and it may sound to some as redundant, or worse; just OLED is, in my humble opinion, more than sufficient.