Countless touchscreen devices are powered by resistive technology. Resistive, in fact, is the second-most popular type of touchscreen technology, surpassed only by capacitive.

They are known as “resistive” touchscreen devices because they feature an electrically resistive coating. When you tap or touch the display interface, the electrodes will touch each other, allowing the device to detect your touch command. With that said, resistive touchscreens are often categorized by their respective layers. Some resistive touchscreens use analog layers, whereas others use matrix layers. So, what’s the difference between analog and matrix layers in resistive touchscreens?

What Are Analog Layers?

Some resistive touchscreen devices feature two analog layers. Each of the analog layers are made of an electrically resistive material, but they contain electrodes so that they can detect touch commands. With the transparent electrodes facing each other, touching the display interface will push them together.

What Are Matrix Layers?

Other resistive touchscreen devices feature matrix layers. Like with analog layers, there are typically two matrix layers in these resistive touchscreen devices. The difference is that matrix layers are designed in a striped pattern, whereas analog layers feature no patterning.

Matrix layers live up to their namesake by forming a “matrix” of electrodes. The top matrix layer features either horizontal or vertical electrodes, whereas the bottom matrix layers features electrodes in the opposite orientation. When compared, the two alternating matrix layers form a grid-like matrix of transparent electrodes.

Analog vs Matrix Layers: Which Are Best?

Either analog or matrix layers can be used in resistive touchscreen devices. They work in a similar way by relying on physical pressure to detect touch commands. In its default state, a resistive touchscreen’s layers will be separated by air. Whether it uses analog or matrix layers, the device’s layers will be separated by air. Touching the display interface, however, will push the top layer into the bottom layer. The contact between these two layers will result in the electrodes touching each other.

The only distinguishable difference between analog and matrix layers lies in the orientation of their respective electrodes. Matrix layers feature horizontal and vertical electrodes — in opposite patterns — whereas analog layers don’t feature any patterning. They still work in the same way by requiring contact between the electrodes to detect touch commands.

Because they don’t feature patterning, analog layers typically cost less to produce than matrix layers. As a result, resistive touchscreens that use analog layers are generally cheaper than their matrix counterparts.