What is a HDR Display? How does it work?

When you hear the word HDR, you think about that specifal mode in your camera that allows you to take better photos which brings out the colors more vividly finds the details in the shadows.

SDR image

HDR image

Well, actually HDR is not only for capturing images, but also for displaying images. So, the question before us is,  what is a HDR display and how does it work?

What HDR stands for?

HDR stands for high dynamic range, and the idea is that it gives you a display that gives you more vibrant colors, greater brightness, and greater contrast. Therefore, just a better picture on your smartphone.

Now, there are different competing expand as different competing ideas about exactly what HDR means and whether a display qualifies to be called a HDR display. But, there are three important ingredients.

The first is the brightness, the display has to be able to offer a high level of brightness and the reasons for that is because actually it want to have a good level of contrast.

What is Contrast in display?

Contrast is the difference between the brightest pixel on the screen and the darkest pixel on the screen. The brighter you can get the screen and the blacker you can get the black screen,the greater the contrast will be.

Now, Brightness and contrast together, give that kind of sharpness that you want for a display. Now, once you have a bright display, we could get better contrast.

How 16 million colors are generated in smartphone?

The next thing you need is some vivid colors. Now, colors are just made on our smartphone displays using RGB color scheme, combination of Red, Green and Blue.


Each of those colors was aged between the Blues are given eight fifths of information, by 256 types of red, 256 types of green and 256 types of blue and then when you combine them together you get an overall of over 16 million colors.


Surpassing 16 million color display

Now, that human eye is able to see more than 16 million colors. So, the HDR is recommending the use of a new color space called Rec 2020. Now, in Rec 2020 defines an area but taking about 76% of the visible spectrum.

New level of color with 10 bits or 12 bits encoding of color

Now, to get that level of color, we need to move beyond a fleeting coding of the colors into 10 bits or into 12 bits. Now, when you use 10 bit encoding of color, there are now a thousand types of red, a thousand types of green and a thousand types if blue.


Combining all together, you get over a billion different types of color. Now, to get the most from a HDR display you need to watch HD content. Now, if a movie or a TV series, you are watching is actually encoded using 8-bit color channels, then you can not invent those extra two bits, to give you that extra color.

You can not create something from nothing. To actually have full HD area, you need to watch a media that actually been recorded and encoded in 10 bit color or even in 12 bit color.

10 and 12 bit color encoding

Now, some video formats don’t support 10 bit color channel. So, mpeg 2 and the format that is used on Blu-ray don’t support 10 bit color. But some of the newer codecs like h.265 and there are some profiles for h.264, which means you can have 10 bit color as media.

So, if you have got 10 bit color media, you have got the brightness and you have got the contrast, then you can truly say that you are watching HDR content on your HDR display.


HDR display is better than SDR display. Same goes for content. To have HDR display, you have to be with 10 bit or 12 bit color encoding, you need screen with high brightness, high contrast and high sharpness.

Watching HDR content on SDR display won’t change anything, as your display will only be limited for 16M color and same goes for vice-versa.

HDR and HD is two different thing, as HD stands for High Definition and that represents for resolution. Of course both are related to Pixels, but HD represent number of pixels and HDR represents range of Values of each Pixel.

Which means you need HDR content with HDR display to experience true HDR.

What do you think about HDR display? Let me know in comment section. Share this with friends too.


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