Purpose: Visually demanding tasks are performed on Smartphones. Presently most advanced smartphone displays vary in their spatial resolution, luminance, and color rendering. Users of different ages might be differently affected by these properties because of their visual abilities. The present study evaluated effect of these display properties of smartphones on user’s viewing performance, viewing discomfort, and subjective preference. Methods: Young (age 18 to 30) and old (age 40 to 65) adults were recruited to perform visual detection and reading tasks on three phones with Advance Enhanced In-Plane Switching [AH-IPS] LCD, Pentile matrix [PenTile] OLED, and Vertical strip [VStrip] OLED displays. Their viewing distance and visual performance was measured with a visual discrimination task. Their viewing distance, reading performance, and perceived discomfort was measured with continuous reading. Subjective comparisons of display properties for the tested phones were also conducted with text, photo, and video images. Results: LCD resulted in better identification on the Landolt Ring visual acuity test (with fixed target distance) and enabled longer viewing distances in the reading task compared to OLEDs. OLED displays were better in displaying saturated red and blue text, whereas LCD was better in displaying black&white text. Subpixels arranged in vertical strips allow better visual performance and better visual appearance than in the tested PenTile structure. The older group performed more poorly on the Landolt Ring task with fixed viewing distance, but less so for LCD display with self-adjusted distance. Conclusions: The present findings demonstrate that higher resolution of LCD compared to OLED displays result in better perceived display quality and performance advantages as measured by human resolution and viewing distance. The increased resolution of the LCD apparently enabled the older group to adjust the viewing distance to attain equal performance with the younger group. These indicate the importance of improving smartphone display quality to enhance the performance for those with greater visual difficulty.
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