The difference between front-lit and back-lit displays.

A question that still perplexes the mind of many, is what the difference is between a front-lit and back-lit screen. The answer to this is surprisingly simple and it really boils down to personal preference overall.  To make it easy: 

Front-Lit Screens -

Have lights positioned in front of the display, casting it along the surface. Making a previously non lit screen appear more visible in low-light situations.  


  • Great way to enhance the playing experience by providing easy viewing for handheld consoles that did not have any form of lighting for their display. 
  • Often less expensive than back-light mods. 
  • Easy to install and isn't overly bright.


  • Often leaves a small bit of "Glare" over the screen in older models. This cannot be helped with any front-lit display. 
  • Typically does not look remarkable in well-lit circumstances.
  • Less color vibrancy in front-lit displays. 


Back-Lit Screens - 

Have lights positioned behind the display. Fully illuminating it and making the image very visible in nearly every lighting situation. 


  • Very bright often / or adjustable brightness options. 
  • Picture is clear and display can be seen in nearly any lighting situation.
  • High Color Vibrancy.


  • More expensive tech involved. 
  • Not the "Classic" way of playing older games. 
  • Some users report eye strain much more often with a bright display.


Overall it boils down to personal preferences and user experience. Some fare well and wish to remain true to a consoles original display, and others wish to modernize and play on a brighter display to get the most out of the way the developers created the game.

The market is unfortunately filled with misleading sellers that will try and sell "front-lit" displays as back-lit. Educate yourself on these differences before buying and potentially wasting your time and money on a display you might not want! The general consensus is that a back-lit display is superior, and prices typically reflect that. Only shop with sellers you can trust or that are honest with their listings and make sure you distinguish what the listing outlines to be true. 

The selections available from 8-Bit Trade clearly outline which type of lighting mods they are using, if any in their title and descriptions. 

Check out this useful video that demonstrates the difference between a front-lit display and a back-lit display on a Gameboy Advance SP model. 

Video Link: Here


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