There are two major categories of touchscreen displays: capacitive touchscreen and resistive touchscreen.
Resistive touchscreen works through pressure applied to the screen. A resistive screen consists of multiple layers. When the screen is pressed, the outer later is pushed onto the next layer, then the pressure application is sensed and the touch-sensitive technology works. Resistive touchscreens can be operated with a finger, a fingernail, a stylus or any other object.
Capacitive touchscreen displays detect the user’s touching on display by the electrical properties of the human body. Therefore, capacitive displays can be controlled with very light touches of a finger and generally cannot be used with a mechanical stylus or a gloved hand. Resistive touchscreens require much more pressure to activate than capacitive touchscreens.
Differences between them:
Briefly speaking, resistive touchscreens is“soft screen”while capacitive touchscreen is “hard screen”.
A capacitive screen usually has a hard glass face and are not activated by pressure. So it is more responsive than a resistive screen and what’s more, capacitive touchscreen supports multi-touch, such as swiping and pinching while resistive one doesn’t.
Detailed information is in the following chart:
|Resistive Touchscreen||Capacitive Touchscreen|
|Visibility Indoors||Very good||Very good|
|Visibility in Sunlight||Poor, the extra layer reflects too much ambient light||Very good|
|Touch Sensitivity||Pressure is needed to make the contact within the screen’s layers, can be affected with fingers (even with gloves on), fingernails, stylus, etc.||Even the slightest contact of your bear finger with the screen’s glass is enough to activate the capacitive sensing system below. Doesn’t work with inanimate objects/ fingernails/ gloved fingers. Handwriting recognition is therefore cumbersome.|
|Accuracy||Accurate to at least display pixel resolution, as can be seen when drawing (or writing characters) with a stylus. Useful for handwriting recognition and interfaces with smaller control elements.||Accurate to within a few pixels, in theory, but seriously limited by the physical size of your fingertips, which make it hard to accurately press any control element or select something on screen that’s smaller than 1cm2.|
|Possibility for Multi-Touch||Non, without re-engineering the way a resistive screen is wired into a device’s electronics||Depends on implementation and software, but used in the iPhone and tech-demoed on the HTC-made G1. Also may be legal battles with Apple, depending on how multi-touch is used.|
|Robustness||The very nature of resistive screens means that their top layer is soft, soft enough to press down and indent. This makes such a screen vulnerable to scratches and other minor damage. A resistive screen also gradually wears out and requires more frequent calibration.||Glass can be used as the outer layer. Although not invulnerable (and certainly prone to shattering on major impact), glass is more resistant to casual scratches and blemishes.|
|On the plus side, a resistive layer over a plastic screen does make for a device that’s generally robust and unlikely to be damaged by a fall.|
|Hygiene||Because a stylus or fingernail can be used to effect each touch, there’s a potential for less fingerprints, finger grease and germs to be transferred to the screen.||Full finger touch is needed on the screen, but the use of glass as the main material means that the screen’s also very quick and easy to clean.|
|Environmental concerns||Nokia has stated that the Nokia 5800, like all their phones, will work happily between -15°C and +55°C and at all real world humidities.||Typical operating temperature is 0° to 35°, requires at least 5% humidity (for capacitive effect to work)|