Capacitive touchscreens are undoubtedly popular. Research shows that roughly nine in 10 touchscreens manufactured and shipped globally use capacitive technology. Capacitive touchscreens are able to detect touch commands by measuring capacitance. When turned on, they’ll generate an electrostatic field on the display interface. Touching the display interface with a conductive object will change its capacitance, thus allowing the capacitive touchscreen to detect your touch command.

If you’re going to buy a capacitive touchscreen, though, you’ll need to choose between projected and surface capacitive. While all capacitive touchscreens work by measuring capacitance, they are available in different types, including projected and capacitive. When should you choose projected capacitive over surface capacitive exactly?

Overview of Projected vs Surface Capacitive

Projected capacitive and surface capacitive are different types of capacitive touchscreen technology. Surface capacitive is the most basic of the two technologies. Surface capacitive touchscreens feature a conductive coating on one side of the insulator layer. Projected capacitive touchscreens, on the other hand, typically have a conductive coating on both sides of the insulator layer. The conductive coatings consist of rows and columns that, during usage, form keys.


You may want to choose projected capacitive technology if you need multi-touch functionality. Multi-touch functionality allows you to perform commands using two or more simultaneous points of contact. Even if you’re unfamiliar with it, you’ve probably performed a multi-touch command before. Pinching the screen on a smartphone, for instance, is a multi-touch command. You can zoom in or out by pinching the screen.

Projected capacitive touchscreens support multi-touch functionality. You aren’t limited to performing single-touch commands. When supported by the app or software, you can perform multi-touch commands with projected capacitive touchscreens.

Small Size

For small touchscreen devices, projected capacitive technology is the way to go. Projected capacitive touchscreens are typically smaller than surface capacitive touchscreens.

Surface capacitive touchscreen technology is often used for vending machines and ATMs. Projected capacitive touchscreen technology, conversely, is often used for smartphones and tablets. If you’re looking to buy a small touchscreen device, you may want to choose the latter technology.


Projected capacitive touchscreens are usually more accurate than surface capacitive touchscreens. Accuracy refers to a touchscreen’s ability to register a touch command in the area where you physically touched the display interface. Both projected and surface capacitive touchscreens can detect the location of touch commands. Projected capacitive touchscreens, though, are more accurate than surface capacitive touchscreens.

Projected capacitive touchscreens have more keys than surface capacitive touchscreens. They feature a conductive coating on both sides of the insulator layer, resulting in more keys. And because they have more keys, projected capacitive touchscreens can pinpoint the location of touch commands more accurately.