There’s no denying the fact that touchscreen technology has revolutionized the way in which we use computers and other electronic devices. No longer are we forced to use traditional peripherals like a physical keyboard and mouse. Thanks to touchscreen technology, we can now control devices by tapping or touching the display interface.

While all touchscreens support touch-based commands, there are several different types of touchscreen technologies, each of which operates in a different way. In recent years, capacitive and surface acoustic wave (SAW) have become two of the most common types of touchscreen technologies. So, what’s the difference between capacitive and SAW exactly?

What Is a Capacitive Touchscreen?

A capacitive touchscreen is a type of touchscreen device that relies on capacitance to detect touch commands. They are constructed with a glass top layer that’s coated in a conductive material, such as indium tin oxide (ITO). A uniform electrostatic field is then applied to this layer. When you tap or touch the display interface, your finger will absorb some of the electricity, allowing the capacitive touchscreen to identify the location of your touch command.

What Is a SAW Touchscreen?

A SAW touchscreen, on the other hand, is a type of touchscreen device that uses sound waves to detect touch commands. Also known as acoustic pulse recognition, SAW touchscreens are designed to project sound waves across the display interface. When you tap or touch the display interface, your finger will disrupt the sound waves in that area, which the SAW touchscreen detects as a touch command.

Benefits of Capacitive Touchscreens

As the world’s most popular type of touchscreen technology — even more popular than SAW — it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that capacitive touchscreens offer many benefits. For starters, capacitive touchscreens offer crystal-clear, high-quality images.

Capacitive touchscreens are also less likely to trigger false touch commands than other types of touchscreens. If you store a capacitive smartphone in your pocket, for example, it shouldn’t trigger a touch command from pressing against your pants.

Benefits of SAW Touchscreens

Of course, there are still reasons to consider a SAW touchscreen. Unlike capacitive touchscreens, SAW touchscreens can read touch commands created with a traditional stylus. In fact, you can use any object to perform touch commands on a SAW touchscreen. Any object placed on the display surface will disrupt the sound waves in that area.

SAW touchscreens are also long-lasting. This is because performing touch commands on a SAW touchscreen places little or no stress on its components. Therefore, SAW touchscreens can last for hundreds of thousands of touches.