Is there any reason to have a 720p screen on a phone?

Verizon posted a sneak peek of their upcoming Droid X this morning and promptly got the Internet buzzing with a little teaser next to a picture of the phone that read "720p screen." Turns out it was a mistake, but it begs the question: Do we even want one?

That level of screen resolution would be unprecedented for a phone, and it turns out it was all just somebody's careless mistake. By early afternoon Verizon corrected the page to read 720p capture, which is still pretty sweet although not exactly front-page news, since plenty of phones, including the new iPhone 4, can capture 720p HD video. The phone's screen resolution is actually 854 x 480 pixels, which is the same as the slightly smaller screen of the current Droid.

This little episode got us thinking, does 720p on a 4.3-inch screen really make any sense? Apple describes its iPhone 4's 3.5-inch screen as having a "Retina display", and at 960 x 640 it's quite a lot sharper than even the Droid X, but does any of this really make a difference? One thing we do know is that the higher the screen resolution, the bigger the drain on your phone's battery.

The two key factors here are screen size and viewing distance, after all most people are perfectly happy watching 1080p HDTV on a 50-inch screen from 10 feet away. The closer you get the easier it becomes to see each individual pixel, so a 50-inch screen from 10 feet gives about the same image as a 4.5-inch screen from about 10 inches away. That's way closer than most people hold their phones, but remember that the phone isn't 1080p.

What do you think? Do you want to see a full-HD screen on a cellphone? And why?

Verizon Droid X