Resistive Touch vs Capacitive Touch - What's The Difference?

Comparing the technology of capacitive (Display Module/ Touch Screen Overlay) and Resistive (Display Module/ Touch Screen Overlay touchscreens, Resistive is the older technology while Capacitive touch gets a lot of press these days as the hot new thing. But what’s the real difference between them?

Touch Screen

Resistive touch screens consists of several very thin layers. When someone presses the touch panel, the top layer bends to make contact with the bottom layer, closing a circuit and causing a current loop. Resistive touch screens can generally only be used as a single-touch device, but they cost less to make and incorporate into your application and respond to any type of touch. They can be used effectively for simple panel controls, such as an automotive GPS panel control or other keypad-replacement applications, or in applications which require gloved use.

Capacitive touch screens are commonly made of two layers (a surface insulator and a transparent conductive layer beneath it). Since the human body itself is an electrical conductor, when the touch panel is touched with a finger (or a conductive pen), the electrostatic field of the panel is distorted. The touchscreen’s controller is able to tell where this distortion is on the touch screen and sends instructions to the rest of the system accordingly. Capacitive touch screens accept “Multi-touch” controls and require less physical force to register a touch. They’re longer-lived than comparable resistive touch screens, making them suitable for high-grade panel controllers or mobile phones.

This table breaks down some of the common advantages and disadvantages of resistive vs. capacitive touch screens. Select the touch technology that’s right for your application!

Resistive Touch Screen Capacitive Touch Screen
Advantages Inexpensive Higher touch sensitivity
Better resistance to dust and water Supports mulit-touch
Can be used with gloves Good visibility even in sunlight
Disadvantages Low touch sensitivity Cannot be used with most gloves
Unable to support multi-touch More expensive
Poor visibility in sunlight Does not work well with pointed objects