What Is HVGA?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2018
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Half video graphics array (HVGA) is a screen technology common to certain handheld devices. They are generally small screens used in handheld devices, such as smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDA). Some handheld projectors also use this technology. The most common resolution for this type of screen is 480x320 pixels.

This type of technology is used in small screens and comes in a narrow range of sizes. Resolutions common to an HVGA device include 480x320 pixels, 480x360 pixels and 640x240 pixels, with the first being the most common. It's called half-VGA because, at its standard size, it is half the size of the 640x480 pixel screens standard on a VGA setup.

The primary benefit of this type of technology is its extremely compact size, and it's one of the smallest types of screens in common use in personal handheld computing. HVGA is becoming a less common technology for screens on handheld devices as new technologies, and larger handheld screens, take over the market, however.

Not every consumer appreciates the small size of the half-VGA screen. Some consumers find that this type of technology, though compact, is too small for daily use, especially for those who use their devices frequently. Many users are turning to their handheld devices to play games and movies, so a larger screen is becoming popular among heavy handheld computer users.


Pixel counts are used to describe the resolution in digital images. The word pixel, also called pel, is short for picture element, and it is one of the multitude of pieces from which a digital image is created. It is somewhat similar to the dots seen in print photographs. The higher the pixel count, the more detailed the picture information in a digital image is likely to be. Its low resolution makes this type of technology a less suitable choice for handheld projectors used to project images on large surfaces.

Resolution refers to the number of those pixels on a screen or within an image. Though an image with a certain number of pixels can be digitally enlarged to a greater size, the image will still have the same number of pixels, so the image will seem lower quality on a smaller screen. Videos recorded for an HVGA size will look low-quality when enlarged on a large monitor or television screen.


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Post 3

@SkyWhisperer - If you want an even higher resolution, then consider Windows phone, like I did. I couldn’t be happier with the resolution.

My Windows phone 7 has WVGA (480 by 800) and HVGA is supported as well. When debating whether to choose WVGA vs HVGA, more is not necessarily better.

For example, heavy gaming applications which use a lot of resources might do better scaling down to the lower resolution. However, if like me you just want to browse the Internet and take photos, WVGA is the best way to go.

Post 2

@hamje32 = I agree. If you want an even better comparison, go beyond computers to personal video discs. The old VCD technology that preceded the DVD revolution offered a resolution of only 352 by 240 pixels, the compression standard used for mpeg-1.

Yet many people watched VCD movies on their TVs, which meant stretching the video image to fill up the screen to 720 by 480.

Compare the VCD resolution to the HVGA screen of 480 by 320. That means the HVGA you get on many smartphones is actually higher resolution than what was once par for the course with VCD disks, or even VHS camcorder resolution.

And when it comes to QVGA vs HVGA, HVGA wins again. HVGA is 480 by 320 and QVGA is only 320 by 240.

Post 1

Smartphones with LCD screens should not need more than HVGA resolution sizes in my opinion. Let’s not forget that it was not too long ago that regular desktop computers were sporting VGA resolution, which is only double the size of what the smart phones use.

Of course, this was in the early days of the personal computer revolution; nowadays you can go to 1680 by 1050 or higher resolution on desktops.

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