Capacitive or Resistive – Understanding the Different Touch Screen Types

This is an issue that I’ve long since ignored. For the longest time it was never a concern for me because I mainly used non-touch devices. I find happiness in a front facing keyboard that allows for fast text entry. Typically that means a non-touch device. So I have spent a lot of my time using Windows Mobile Standard (previously known as Windows Mobile Smartphone) based devices. I’ve seen discussions go on for pages and pages over these two technologies and which ones is better and why.

Over the last while I’ve been testing out various touch devices and that has caused me to step back and take a look at capacitive and resistance screens.  There is a really good article over at AllAboutSymbian.com that clearly shows and compares capacitive vs resistance screens. What it comes down to is this – resistive screens require resistance (ie: pressure) to work. You can use your finger or a stylus to apply the pressure required. Capacitive screens don’t work on pressure, they require an electrostatic charge from your finger to determine where on the screen you are touching. Because of this, there needs to be about 5% humidity for them to work correctly. So it can be hard to work it in extreme cold conditions. While capacitive screens can cost more, they provide a number of benefits like being easier to view under direct sunlight, and the ability for multi-touch applications.

Overall user experience is also a key with capacitive screens. They’re much easier to interact with than resistive based screens. If you’ve been using a resistive screen, generally you can move to a capacitive screen with out noticing much of a difference. However, if you’ve been using capacitive for a while and try to switch to a resistive screen, there’s no doubt that you’ll notice a difference and have problems interacting with the screen. Without realizing, I recently switched to a resistive screen and noticed a number of issues interacting with the device. Once I made the connection about the screen type, I just made sure to apply a little more pressure on the screen and things have been great since.

Get to know your touch screen so you can better enjoy that device! :)

About Mike Temporale

Mike Temporale has written 614 posts on Mobile Jaw..

Mike Temporale grew up fascinated by computers since an early age. His first hands on with a computer came when he was 7 years old and a travelling lab of Commodore PET computers made a stop at his school. Hooked on the new world these devices offered, he took any chance possible to get in front of a computer. When Compaq launched the iPaq 3600, he was hooked again. This time on a whole new world of mobile computing. Today, Mike spends his day helping clients deploy and manage their mobile device around the world. From installing custom software, to locking and securing data, and everything in between. He is also the Editor in Chief at Mobile Jaw - a site focused on today's mobile world.