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iPhone 4 trumps Galaxy S in smartphone display showdown

updated 12:45 pm EDT, Tue September 28, 2010

DisplayMate picks iPhone 4 screen over Galaxy S

Despite perceptions, the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 is overall better than that on the Samsung Galaxy S, DisplayMate discovered in a close look at smartphone screens. Apple's screen was undersaturated and too high contrast in photos, but its brightness, deep blacks, high contrast ratio and 960x640 resolution all made it the overall best display of five different models. The Galaxy S' Super AMOLED was better in blacks and contrast but, like many OLEDs, had oversaturated color and was noticeably dimmer.

It also disabuses notions that LCDs are automatically more power-hungry than OLEDs, as the Samsung Android phone used much more energy when bright objects were on screen and wasn't any better than the iPhone 4 even in dark scenes that supposedly favor OLED.

The now almost year-old Motorola Droid still had the best pure picture quality thanks to its well-known, 24-bit IPS screen, but it had low contrast and lost brightness very quickly at significant viewing angles.

Of the group, the iPhone 3GS fared the worst, though its display is largely the same as from the original iPhone in 2007. Google's Nexus One was close behind as it had all the OLED drawbacks of the Galaxy S but without the single-layer touch and display combo that gives Samsung's newer phone its higher brightness, more outdoor-friendly reflection factor and somewhat more accurate color output.

The comparison is a potential source of embarassment for Samsung, which criticized the iPhone 4 and claimed it was inherently obsolete through the use of LCD.

by MacNN Staff



  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Fair comparisons

    >>> Of the group, the iPhone 3GS fared the worst,

    How about comparing current technologies and not compare a phone that is 2 years old.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Technology is still in it's infancy. That said, it is quite impressive with what they offer now. The tech is only going to get better.

  1. coyoteblue

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Gaudy Images

    I am not disputing the test results, or the testing procedures, but when did the term 'Gaudy' -- which to me is a matter of perception and an individual human viewers interpretation of the image -- qualify to be included in testing results... 'Gaudy' as compared to *what*? A nun? A clown?

    Just made me chuckle...

  1. kkthompson

    Joined: Dec 1969



    If they can get the same DPI on the next iPad, that thing is going to be drop-dead gorgeous. Ebooks would really benefit from razor sharp fonts.

    And the comment about "gaudy" is pretty accurate when you see the images. They are crazy over-saturated, especially in the reds. The interface looks great, but makes for some whacky looking images. Could easily be fixed in software with some proper calibration.

  1. gitcypher

    Joined: Dec 1969


    How's that reporting working out for you, Electron

    "There is no decisive winner as each of the three “Super” displays significantly outperforms the others in more than one important area and significantly underperforms in other areas. The iPhone 4 by far has the brightest and sharpest display and is the most power efficient of the displays. The Motorola Droid by far has the best picture quality and accuracy. The Samsung Galaxy S by far has the lowest screen reflectance and largest Contrast for both bright and dark ambient lighting, and the best viewing angles. On the flip side, the iPhone 4 has a weak color gamut and viewing angles, the Motorola Droid has weak screen reflectance and viewing angles, and the Samsung Galaxy S has lower brightness, excessive color saturation, higher power consumption and some sharpness issues.

    Each of these “Super” displays is none-the-less impressive and deserves an award: the iPhone 4 performed better overall so it earned the DisplayMate Best Mobile Display Award, the Motorola Droid earned the Best Mobile Picture Quality Award, and the Samsung Galaxy S earned the Best New Mobile Display Technology Award. Each of these displays has lots of room for improvement and can leapfrog the others in their next iteration with appropriate action…"

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