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Resistive vs Capacitive Touchscreens

In a previous article, I talked about how touchscreen technology has become the most common method of entering information into a computer. We are all exposed to touchscreen technology today, that we are becoming so adapted to it. I talked about the advantages of touch screens, among which providing very direct interactions, and the ease of learning makes them ideal for use to everyone.

But have you ever wondered what is the difference between resistive and capacitive touchscreen?

Nowadays, interacting with a touchscreen display is something ordinary. Just think that nearly 80% of us, as first thing in the morning, interact with the mobile device. And another thing is most of us interact with the smartphone before we go to sleep. During the day we are so exposed to use touchscreen displays that we don't even notice, there are touch-based phones, computers, television, cash registers, information kiosks, and gaming consoles. Touchscreen systems represent one of the more expensive modules in portable applications, and they need to be designed at a lower cost while still providing a high level of functionality. There are more than a half-dozen different types of touchscreen devices. The two most popular, however, include capacitive and resistive. So, what is the difference between them? And which of these touchscreen technologies yields the best image quality? Let's go and have a look at the differences:

Resistive Touchscreen

This is the older technology of the two. Resistive touchscreens consist of several very thin layers. When someone presses the touch panel, the top layer bends to make contact with the bottom layer, closing a circuit and causing a current loop.

They can be used effectively for simple panel controls, such as an automotive GPS panel control. Resistive touch screens are insensitive to water, allowing underwater usage for water-resistant devices. The resistive screen's poorer responsiveness to light touches has caused it to generally be considered for use with low-resolution screens and to lose market share to capacitive screens in the 21st century. Capacitive touchscreen technology overtook resistive touchscreen technology in revenue in 2010 and in units in 2011.

Capacitive Touchscreen

Commonly made of two layers (a surface insulator and a transparent conductive layer beneath it). Since the human body itself is an electrical conductor, when the touch panel is touched with a finger, the electrostatic field of the panel is distorted. The touchscreen’s controller is able to tell where this distortion is on the touch screen and sends instructions to the rest of the system accordingly. Human interface devices based on capacitive sensings can replace the computer mouse. Capacitive screens are also far more sensitive than resistive displays and can work with multi-point inputs, known as 'multi-touch'. Touchscreens used in smartphones are generally capacitive, which allow dual touch gestures but do not respond to a pen, gloved hands, or stylus.

Image from Xymox Technologies

Market Value

The primary value proposition of resistive touchscreens is that they are low-cost to manufacture. Resistive touchscreens can be found in automotive, medical, and industrial equipment, and of course, point-of-sale (POS) terminals. In contrast, projected-capacitance touchscreens offer high performance in accuracy, power consumption, and refresh rate. They also feature excellent optical transmissivity (greater than 90%), resulting in brighter, clearer displays. Unlike resistive touchscreens, projected capacitance is durable, scratch-resistant, free of aging symptoms, and needs no calibration. Projected capacitance can also support multi-finger touch input and gestures, enabling significant improvements to the user interface. Popular gestures such as two-finger pinch and zoom let users zoom in or out on an image.


Capacitive and resistive touchscreens both have strong positive advantages. Really, their use depends on your business’ environment and the way in which you plan on using your touchscreen devices. Using the information we’ve provided, you’ll better understand these advantages and you will be certain to make the right choice for your unique business.

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