Resistive vs Capacitive Touch Screen

Even though various devices with touch screen technologies have been around for quite some time now, people are still not sure when asked about the difference between resistive and capacitive touch screens. Perhaps you are too, considering that you are reading this article right now. Maybe you are after a new smartphone, or you are just wondering whether you should equip the device you’ve been designing with a resistive or capacitive touch screen. No worries! Below, you can read about both resistive and capacitive touch screens as well as how they differ from each other.

What are Resistive/Capacitive Touch Screens?
Resistive and capacitive touch screens have very different designs and mechanisms. A resistive touch screen is made of two thin flexible layers that are separated by an air gap or by microdots. Each layer has a coating that faces the other layer. When these two coating layers touch each other, a voltage is produced and considered as a touch input on the particular location. So, a resistive touch screen relies on the mechanical pressure made by a finger or a stylus. Meanwhile, a capacitive touch screen relies on human body’s electrical properties. It is usually made of an insulating glass layer that is coated with a transparent conductive material on the inside surface. When your finger touches the screen, you cause a change in the screen’s electrical field, which is then registered as a touch input.

Advantages &Disadvantages of Resistive/Capacitive Touch Screen
Although the first resistive touch screens don’t support multi-touch, there are now various models, some support multi-touch while the others don’t. Some capacitive touch screens also don’t support multi-touch, though most of them do support it. Resistive touch screens are easier to make and thus are cheaper than capacitive touch screens.

In general, resistive touch screens are more durable than capacitive touch screens. Obviously, resistive touch screens have been designed to withstand certain levels of physical pressures, so they are less prone to breaking. They are also more resistant to dust and water. Capacitive touch screens are usually more prone to breaking, but modern technologies have allowed production of scratch-resistant and durable glass products that now many smart phones use, such as the Gorilla Glass and the Panda Glass.

Resistive touch screens can be used with bare fingers, gloved hands, or styluses. However, they are not very sensitive; you may need to press down pretty hard. Also, due to having two layers that produce more reflections, resistive touch screens usually have poorer contrast and sharpness.

Capacitive touch screens can’t be used if you are wearing thick gloves. But they are much more sensitive. You can easily type without pressing hard into the screen. Capacitive touch screens typically have better contrast and sharpness.

Resistive Touch ScreenCapacitive Touch Screen
- Relies on physical pressure for input- Relies on human body’s electrical conductivity for input
- More durable and more resistant to dust and water- More prone to breaking, less resistant to dust and water
- Cheaper- More expensive
- Less sensitive- More sensitive
- Poorer contrast and sharpness- Better contrast and sharpness

In general, smart phone users will find capacitive touch screens easier and more convenient to use. The image quality is better, and they are much more sensitive so that you can enter a touch input easily. However, if you are working on a project that somehow requires durability and low production cost more than image quality and input sensitivity, you can choose to equip your project with a resistive touch screen instead.

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