I can still remember looking at full desktop websites on my G1’s 3.2 inch 480 x 320, 180 ppi display and thinking “Wow–I can’t believe I get to view full websites on my phone!” Now if I were to do that I would say “Wow–I can’t believe I viewed full websites on this phone!”
First it was the sub 4 inch displays. We were happy. Then it was the 4 inch displays. Were we getting greedy? Absolutely not. Samsung comes out with a 4.5 inch SAMOLED display on the Infuse 4G–the epic displays size-debate begins. Finally it is 2012 and it looks like 4.65 (Galaxy Nexus), 4.7 (One X) and 5.3 inch (Galaxy Note) devices are here to stay. Now that we are accustomed to these large displays, we began to delve into the curious question of which display technology is best–which display has the best color reproduction, outdoor visibility, pixel density and so on and so forth?
PhoneArena has done us a big favor and done some great side by side comparisons of these great phones:
The four displays represent a range of industry standards from WVGA to Retina resolutions and 3.5 to 4.7 inch displays. Each phone was tested in four different categories: outdoor visibility, resolution, color reproduction and viewing angles. Here’s our take on each:
Why is this important? Well, suffice to say, not everyone is stuck in a cubicle all day and if you are lucky enough to live in a place where it is sunny for more than 1 season, you might find yourself having a hard time reading the important information on your display. Samsung’s Super AMOLED’s are well known to perform well in bright sunlight but it looks like the latest generation of IPS LCD technology takes the crown for outdoor performance. PhoneArena concluded that the HTC One X “without a doubt” grabs the top spot for outdoor visibility with is Super-LCD 2 display easily outshining the rest of the competition. The iPhone 4S comes in at a close second with the LG and Samsung devices bring up the rear. The Galaxy Nexu’s Super AMOLED HD was rated as “the worst performer of the bunch.”
Why is it resolution important? Why does Apple but so much emphasis on the retina quality of its glass? Because that is on of the most obvious determinants of picture quality. You can have great colors, viewing angles and outdoor visibility, but if it all looks like NES graphics nobody will care. With that said, all of the current gen phones have resolutions exceeding 300ppi, which is enough to say that all of those displays will display details with stunning clarity. Only the Galaxy S II’s 215 ppi will begin to show jaggedness in text. Increased resolution also allows users to view more content on the display at one time which is very useful for web browsing.
Color reproduction is important because it too can strongly affect a user’s perception of image quality. Because of this subjective nature of a user’s interpretation of contrast/colors, each of these panels is successful in its own right. The high contrast ratio (dark blacks, white whites) and vibrant colors of the Super AMOLED displays are described by some as vivid and bright, while others think they are too punchy and over-saturated. IPS displays tend to emit more neutral and precise colors.
If you look closely where the bezel meets the display on the Super AMOELD displays you can understand why their contrast ratios are so high. The IPS displays of the iPhone and Optimus are a bit washed out, but they along with the One X, exhibit more accurate/neutral color reproduction.
Viewing angles are important when more than one user is viewing the device or if you often hold your device at an awkward angle. The Super AMOLED displays both performed the, maintaining relatively high brightness levels at the cost of color accuracy. The One X’s Super LCD 2 also performs well without any shift in color hue. The iPhone and Optimus aren’t terrible when viewed from an angle but they don’t quite make the cut in light of their company.
The HTC One X’s beautiful, 4.7 inch Super-LCD 2 display is one the best displays out there period. Excellent brightness, color reproduction viewing angles and resolution along with its laminated panel which makes the display appear to be on the surface of the glass, makes this a clear favorite. Despite being over a year and a half old, the iPhone’s IPS retina display is still very pleasing to the eye but is limited by its small 3.5 inch frame. The Optimus lands somewhere in the middle of the pack performing admirably, but not quite at the level of the One X.
The Super AMOLED displays despite being competitive are starting to show their age. With the RGP stripe technology becoming the industry standard, Pentile is going to become a big nono. We hope that Samsung will develop a HD Super AMOLED display that uses RGB stripe technology and can achieve a ppi of above 300 come time for the Galaxy S III launch