Capacitive Touch Screen vs Resistive: Touch the Difference

by Andy Brock on December 30, 2011

Capacitive Touchscreen vs ResistiveTouchscreen devices are everywhere, from smartphones to tablets, these devices have changed the mobile technology landscape. When a person purchases a tablet PC, there are essentially two types of touchscreens, and they are either capacitive touch screen or resistive touch screen. The differences between the two types are small, but they are big enough to make each user and his or her experiences with using the tablet very different.

How the Capacitive Touchscreen Works
A capacitive touchscreen does not sense pressure, but instead it uses capacitive sensing to allow users to control a tablet with his or her fingers. The sensors used to make a touchscreen capacitive include those that measure a finger’s position and proximity when moved from one spot to another, and another that measures the acceleration or speed of the finger when it moves. Combined, they create the tracking sensors indicative of the capacitive touchscreen, which allows the screen to “feel” the user’s finger, and it reacts so the user can control the tablet accurately with the fingers.
How the Resistive Touchscreen Works
A resistive touchscreen senses pressure, not the motions or finger speed that the capacitive devices measure. Because resistive is pressure-based, the touchscreens require direct, heavy-handed pressure for the sensors to track the touches. The sensors track where the user applies the pressure, and then the tablet performs its functions accordingly. While it is possible for a user to use his or her fingers to control a resistive screen tablet, typically, the user does not press hard enough for the device screen to detect and react to the pressure. For this reason, resistive screen device manufacturers typically supply a stylus in the package.
Choosing Capacitive or Resistive
The Samsung Galaxy Tab and iPad are examples of tablets that use a capacitive touchscreen. Situations in which using a capacitive screen is better include when a user needs the operating system, game or other program to respond quickly to commands. Additionally, when the device user plays games that require repetitive motions, the capacitive screen is a better choice. Because capacitive devices do not rely on pressure to track movement and game commands, but rely on skin contact instead, the screen and its sensors do not wear out as quickly as the sensors do on a resistive screen.
Many of the more inexpensive tablets (there are of course exceptions) use resistive screens but there is a market for these devices. A resistive touchscreen is best for users who use handwriting recognition programs because of the pressure used to write on the screen. However, because the resistive screen reacts to pressure, using the stylus with the handwriting recognition program could scratch the screens. Otherwise, just about anything can be used to operate a tablet PC with a resistive touchscreen as long as it exerts enough pressure.

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