Laminated vs non laminated tablet : What is a laminated display?

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Laminated displays are the new big thing in display technology. Every single device whether it is a tablet, smartphone or monitor – is boasting about their laminated screens.

laminated and non laminated screen comparison
Non-laminated(left) – Laminated(right) : source,MKBHD

But what are the laminated screens and how they are different from the pre-existing non-laminated displays?

What does laminated screen mean?

Before we discuss laminated screens, we need to know about how screens work. The top panel of our smartphones has three basic layers which consist of a display panel, touch layer, and top glass.

non laminated display
Conventional non-laminated screens

The display panel is present at the bottom of the sandwich followed by the touch layer. The touch layer essentially makes our device touch sensitive. Now the topmost glass layer is the protective layer which protects the bottom layers and usually has scratch resistant properties.

Non-Laminated displays

laminated vs non-laminated displays
Laminated vs Non-Laminated display

In conventional non-laminated displays, the screen sit at the bottom. And the touch panel and top glass layer are stuck together. In this type of arrangement, an air gap builds up between the two layers. The air gap causes disturbances in the light coming in and out of the screen. These disturbances affect the quality of the image produced.

Solution – Laminated screens

In modern devices which have laminated screens. The three layers are laminated together as a single piece of display and glass. First, the top layer is laminated with the touchscreen panel followed by the screen. The glue used in this process is not visible in the final result. Making the screen seamless.

Advantages of laminated displays

  • Reduced thickness
  • Improves visual quality
  • No dusty screen
  • Reduced hollow sound
  • Pictures look painted on
  • Outdoors performance
  • No parallax
ipad pro reduced thickness through screen lamination
iPad Pro – thinnest tablet

Reduces thickness

One of the main advantages of the laminated screens is they are very thin, that is how Apple was able to make the iPads so thin.

Improves display quality

No air gap between layers means to room for light refraction or light interference, making the screen clear and vibrant.

No dusty screen

As the device gets older, dust particles make their way inside the air gap, giving the screen a dusty appearance. These dust particles cannot be cleaned without opening the device. Laminating the screen completely eliminates this issue.

Reduced hollow sound

If you are one of those people who uses their tablet for taking notes or drawing. You might have noticed the hollow sound it makes when the stylus touches the screen.

This effect is more evident in older generation iPads and drawing tablets. Some artist finds it really annoying.

The laminated screens do not completely remove the tap sound but definitely reduces the hollow effect. In other words, the tap sound it makes is more pleasing.

display quality of laminated screen Pictures look painted on

This is one of those things which is visible when you observe closely. Still improves the viewing experience in a major way. If you have an older smartphone you’ll notice the actual screen appears a few millimeters below the surface.

Looking at those screen feels like we are peeking into the screen through some top layer. The image on the laminated screens appears as they have been painted on the top glass. They look more inviting and real.

Outdoor Performance

Laminated screens have improved visibility in strongly lit environments and under the sun.

parallax in stylus
Parallax example

No parallax

Many of the drawing tables which accept stylus inputs suffer from a common issue called parallax.

In parallax – the line appearing on the screen is a few millimeters away from where the actual pen touches the surface.

It deteriorates the drawing and writing experience. This mainly happens due to the gap between the top digitizer glass and the display layer.

This effect is minimum in iPads and most of the Android tablets. Mainly because these devices have small screens. In professional drawing tablets, the displays are large and the issue is more prominent.

To solve parallax issues tablet manufacturers like Wacom started making laminated displays.

Soon other brands such as Huion, Xp pen started making the laminated tablets. Nowadays most of the new drawing tablets come with laminated displays with do not have parallax.

Disadvantages of Laminated displays

Laminated screens are great and have a lot of advantages over their non-laminated counterparts. But there are some minor disadvantages too which are important to consider.

Cost – Although both laminated and normal screen is almost made of the same base materials but the main difference is in the manufacturing process. Laminated screens are more complicated to make and that is why it costs more.

Repairability – Electronics are fragile and easy to break. In earlier devices, if the top glass breaks you can simply swap it with the new one – with minimal repair costs.

In laminated screens, if the top glass breaks you will need to replace the whole display even if the screen is working just fine. It inflates the replacement costs to very high levels.

Do laminated screens reduce glare?

Screens glare when they are in a bright environment or when some bright light like tablet lamp is bouncing off the screen. Glare depends on the top layer of the screen, which are generally made of glass. In laminated screen too the top layer has glass.

The laminated screen helps in improving the visibility of the screen by reducing the light spill. So laminated screens can be a little help in these situations. But a simple matte screen protector can do a much better job at protecting from glare.(more tips)

Related –
How Wacom Stylus work – with the help of EMR

Shubham Singh

Shubham Singh is an Adobe Certified Associate, Graphic Designer, and 3D artist. He likes to acquire new skills and explore how things work.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Daniel John

    Thank you for outlines

    Now I know.

    I was thinking about eye strain if not a laminated screen could influence that.

    1. Essential Picks

      There are a lot of variables involved when we talk of eye strain due to displays. In general, the laminated screens are easier on your eyes compared to non-laminated displays.

  2. martin

    With ipad 2018 no problem apart the screen air gap issue, on ipad pro 2018 I noticed under the pencil the screen flexes making whiter area such like on old laptops you push on the screen with the finger. is it normal? I find it pretty annoying.

    1. Essential Picks

      Yes, it is normal for LCD screens (of iPad 2018) to show disappearing white liquidy marks when pressed hard. We recommend you to use lighter hand pressure when using the Apple Pencil.

  3. martin

    Thanks, I meant I was not comfy to draw on iPad 2018 for the parallax effect but its screen is thick, so when I recently got the iPad Pro 2018 I noticed the liquidy marks effect when pressing that I didn’t have on the basic Ipad. Do you mean on the iPad Pro 2020 the screen doesn’t show the marks when pressed like on iPad Pro 2018 or still same situation?

    1. Essential Picks

      Since the newer 2020 iPad Pro also uses an LCD screen, chances are it will also act the same way (we haven’t tested it yet). But like we said it is an inherent property of LCD screens.

      So the best option is to turn the pressure sensitivity of the Apple Pencil to the max, so you don’t have to apply that much force.

  4. martin

    ok clear, I guess I have to find the pencil pressure on the ipad settings, thanks a lot!

  5. Hasan

    Now I am able to find differences among the display (s) of iPad/iPad Air / iPad Pro. Thanks.

  6. Peter Yuan

    I have never used a laminated display. Older IPads/IPad air/IPad mini have a non laminated display. (I like typing IPad but it means ipad).

  7. Peter Yuan

    Oh and I forgot, the IPad 9 even has a non laminated display.

    1. Essential Picks

      Yeah, sadly the 9th gen of iPad (2021 model) still comes with a non-laminated screen.

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