Lab tests compare Apple's iPhone 4 Retina Display to rival phones

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The new Retina Display Apple uses in iPhone 4 was compared against alternative screens used in competing smartphones, and Dr. Raymond Soneira, President of DisplayMate Technologies, has offered additional comments about the display comparison.



The test results, published by PJ Jacobowitz of PC Mag, compared Apple's iPhone 4 with the Motorola Droid X, HTC Droid Incredible and HTC EVO, looking at brightness, contrast, color depth, and color accuracy. Soneira commented on the lab results, which provide the first technical look at the performance of the iPhone 4 Retina Display.



Brightness



The brightest display was on the iPhone 4, which at 536 cd/m² was found to be twice as bright as the OLED display of HTC's Droid Incredible. PC Mag said the Incredible measured a "weak 236 cd/m²," and that, "compared to the iPhone 4's display, the Droid Incredible is very difficult to view outdoors." Other models tested fell about in the middle.



After the results were published, Soneira added that "the iPhone 4 is 25 percent brighter than the iPhone 3GS, which was the previous record holder, so the iPhone 4 is now the brightness king for smartphones."







Contrast

Â*

Explaining that "the difference between the darkest and brightest points on a display is known as contrast," PC Mag reported that iPhone 4 was just slightly better than the Droid X in terms of contrast radio, achieving 1097 vs 1071 on the Droid X. The HTC EVO "offers a little more than half the contrast of these two, just 649."



The HTC Droid Incredible achieves a much higher contrast ratio due to its OLED screen, so while its "not very bight, it can create extremely dark level of blacks which creates contrast that eclipses all of the competitionÂ?it measured a staggering 39,373," PC Mag reported.



Soneira added, "Steve Jobs promised a Retina Display Contrast Ratio of 800 and PC Mag measured 1097, 37 percent more than the Apple advertised spec. That's very impressive because you seldom ever see manufacturers conservatively understate their specs to that degree - but then see my widely reported (and often misquoted) comments on the iPhone 4 Retina Display, where it falls short on that spec. The iPhone 4 is a tremendous improvement over the iPhone 3GS, which only had a measured Contrast Ratio of 138. But note that the Motorola Droid remains the Contrast Ratio king of mobile LCDs with 1436, which I measured in our own DisplayMate Lab tests."



Soneira also said that, "while the iPhone 4 LCD has a significantly lower Contrast Ratio than OLEDs, which typically have Contrast Ratios of 30,000 or more, it's not particularly relevant for mobile displays because they are typically viewed under bright ambient lighting, where screen reflections of the surrounding ambient light are much greater than the display's own internal black level. The Contrast Ratio spec only applies for viewing in the dark. The iPhone 4's bright screen and low reflectance means that it delivers a much higher real screen image Contrast under typical ambient lighting than OLEDs, which are not as bright and have inherently higher screen reflectance than the iPhones. But in dark ambient lighting the OLEDs deliver outstanding Contrast."



Color Depth



Color depth refers to the resolution of color supported by both the display hardware and the operating system software. Of the screens tested, only iPhone 4 and the Motorola Droid X supply screens capable of 24-bit color (16,777,216 colors, which Apple calls "millions" and which Windows refers to a "true color"); HTC's hardware on the Incredible and EVO can only display 16-bit color (65,535 colors, which Apple calls "thousands" and which Windows refers to a "high color").



In their bundled software however, only the iPhone 4 actually displays 24-bit color. Android's photo application is crippled to only support 16-bit color, reducing the Motorola Droid X to the same performance as the Incredible and EVO, expressing color banding and jaggies due to their significantly lower color resolution.



Color Accuracy



In looking at color accuracy, PC Mag wrote that displays should reproduce "100 percent of the sRGB color gamut; no more, no less. Anything more means that the colors being displayed are oversaturated, or punchy. Anything less means that colors are being understaurated, or blah." It called the test "good measure of color accuracy."



The report said the Droid X screen was closest to the desired baseline of color reproduction, with just 6 percent undersaturation; EVO was also close with 10 percent undersaturation. iPhone 4 was undersaturated by 36 percent, a figure similar to previous test results of the iPhone 3GS, while the Droid Incredible was oversaturated by 37%.

Â*

Soneira said "the PC Mag lab test result that really surprised and disappointed me was the small iPhone 4 display color gamut, which is only 64 percent of the industry sRGB/Rec.709 standard color gamut that is necessary to obtain accurate color reproduction for videos and photos. As a result all iPhone 4 images will have colors that are somewhat under-saturated and on the weak side. The same was true for the iPhone 3GS and all previous iPhones and iPods. I was really expecting the iPhone 4 to correct that deficiency and perform as well as the Motorola Droid, an IPS LCD that matches the standard color gamut almost exactly and delivers essentially perfect color accuracy images, as good or better than most HDTVs. So the iPhone 4 is disappointing in color saturation and color accuracy, but is state-of-the-art in pixel resolution and sharpness.

Â*

"On the other hand, the PC Mag lab tests found that the HTC Droid Incredible had way too large a color gamut and color saturation, the same as the Nexus One and most OLED displays on many phones. While that often gets an initial 'wow' response Â? even from reviewers who should know better Â? too much image color and coloration in photos and videos is actually visually worse than too little color. So the iPhone 4's less than ideal weak color is actually visually better and preferable to all of those OLED displays that have excessive color Â? unless you prefer gaudy colored images."



A reader added the comment, "the color accuracy (sRGB color gamut) of the iPhone is 'undersaturated' simply because higher saturation color filters on LCDs attenuate more light. Therefore, you need a brighter backlight behind a higher color saturation filter (e.g. R, G and/or B) to get the same light out of the front as compared with a lower saturation color filter. Since Apple was already taking a big hit on efficiency of the LCD assembly due to the high-resolution display, there was a trade-off made to use lower saturation color filters in order to obtain reasonable battery life in the device."



Overall results



PC Mag reported "iPhone 4 has the most well-rounded display of our bunch. It offers a completely 24-bit color experience, the brightest screen, and great contrast (for an LCD.) The iPhone 4 could be even better if didn't Apple didn't limit its color accuracy."



It awarded Motorola's Droid X second place, while noting "the HTC Droid Incredible is the master of contrast, but its 16-bit display, oversaturated colors, and lack of brightness for outdoor viewing might turn some people off. The HTC EVO 4G, meanwhile, didn't excel at anything."

Â*

Soneira said DisplayMate Technologies will be reporting its own intensive lab tests on the iPhone 4 display, "with in-depth evaluations and analysis and some comments on how manufacturers can improve their mobile displays." The company produces display optimization, calibration, evaluation, and diagnostic products for consumers, technicians, and manufacturers, used by hundreds of publications worldwide for editorial reviews for every type of display.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    The display is top notch. The 3GS and below are just horrible now.
  • Reply 2 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    The display is top notch. The 3GS and below are just horrible now.



    i never cared for the 3G/3GS display overall. never seemed as good as the original. the "only" thing holding me up from upgrading is the possible reception issue. not sure what to think of that. will likely try to get my hands on one this weekend.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    ljbyrneljbyrne Posts: 10member
    Since the Droid X is not out yet, where you reviewing a pre-release version?
  • Reply 4 of 29
    glockpopglockpop Posts: 69member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ljbyrne View Post


    Since the Droid X is not out yet, where you reviewing a pre-release version?



    Read the article: the tests were performed by PC Mag using equipment provided by HTC.



    If they'd reviewed the Droid, you'd be pissing your pants about that model being half a year old.
  • Reply 5 of 29
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,079member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by davidch14 View Post


    i never cared for the 3G/3GS display overall. never seemed as good as the original. the "only" thing holding me up from upgrading is the possible reception issue. not sure what to think of that. will likely try to get my hands on one this weekend.



    I don't think the display on my 3GS is bad, compared to most touch screen smart phones I see people using I'd rate it as pretty damn good overall.
  • Reply 6 of 29
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saarek View Post


    I don't think the display on my 3GS is bad, compared to most touch screen smart phones I see people using I'd rate it as pretty damn good overall.



    In many ways, like colour accuracy, brightness, use in sunlight, et al. it's top notch, and was a high ppi when it was introduced 3.5 years ago, but by today's standards the resolution is pretty low. I'm glad we're at a point where I don't care if the resolution is upped any more as it's beyond what my eyes can see, and any changes other real changes to make the display better quality won't affect the way apps look or developers.
  • Reply 7 of 29
    trajectorytrajectory Posts: 647member
    I have not yet seen the Retina Display in person, but, I'm so glad Apple really pushed the envelope here. I have an iPhone 3G still, and I felt that even that display was pretty decent quality for a phone. Apparently the new iPhone 4 is capable of about 320 dpi, which is higher than high-resolution printing used in glossy magazines (usually around 266-300 dpi). That's pretty incredible that our phone screens can now achieve print-resolution quality. For this reason alone, I want an iPhone 4! I just hope they fix the antenna first.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    freddychfreddych Posts: 266member
    the iPhone 4's screen is absolutely fantastic. Its razor sharp and it's not too big. I feel as if the Evo's screen is just a touch too big.
  • Reply 9 of 29
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,305member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Trajectory View Post


    I have not yet seen the Retina Display in person, but, I'm so glad Apple really pushed the envelope here. I have an iPhone 3G still, and I felt that even that display was pretty decent quality for a phone. Apparently the new iPhone 4 is capable of about 320 dpi, which is higher than high-resolution printing used in glossy magazines (usually around 266-300 dpi). That's pretty incredible that our phone screens can now achieve print-resolution quality. For this reason alone, I want an iPhone 4! I just hope they fix the antenna first.



    The display is simply the best out in the wild. I'm one week into my iP4 and it still amazes me how sharp it is. Any other display now is 2nd-rate. I can't squint my eyes hard enough to see the pixels it's that darn good.



    I have no issues with the reception. While I'm not excusing Apple for their "blunder" whether actual or implied, it's still the best phone (imho) on the market. Fandroids and Wintards would love to imply otherwise but honestly, every phone I've had has always had a case and with the the iP4, it is almost a necessity as the build quality is so high on the next level, it's like carrying around fine-china. I'm not excusing Apple but at the same time, I am using a case therefore the entire reception fiasco is moot.



    I retired my old 2g iPhone and after using the iP4, I won't be going back.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Trajectory View Post


    Apparently the new iPhone 4 is capable of about 320 dpi, which is higher than high-resolution printing used in glossy magazines (usually around 266-300 dpi). That's pretty incredible that our phone screens can now achieve print-resolution quality. For this reason alone, I want an iPhone 4! I just hope they fix the antenna first.



    326 to be exact, but it's not JUST an improvement in the resolution, it also has other very important improvements which aren't as easily advertised and therefore likely to be ignored by rivals.



    The others are:
    • Increased brightness. The 3GS was already brighter than other phones, but the iPhone 3 is even brighter.

    • IPS display. I'm amazed they improved the battery so much when using IPS over TN. » http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TFT_LCD#Types

    • The glass bonding and less distortion. The least marketable to the average person, but there is no longer a space between the display and the glass seems to have better optics resulting in a clearer image under a microscope. The iPad appears to benefit from this, too. » http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjo...etina-display/

  • Reply 11 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    326 to be exact, but it's not JUST an improvement in the resolution, it also has other very important improvements which aren't as easily advertised and therefore likely to be ignored by rivals.



    The others are:
    • Increased brightness. The 3GS was already brighter than other phones, but the iPhone 3 is even brighter.

    • IPS display. I'm amazed they improved the battery so much when using IPS over TN.

    • The glass bonding and less distortion. The least marketable to the average person, but there is no longer a space between the display and the glass seems to have better optics resulting in a clearer image under a microscope. The iPad appears to benefit from this, too. » http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjo...etina-display/




    This should also stop the dust from getting inbetween the glass and the display. i used to get that all the time with my iphone 3gs. I just got my iphone 4 today and i am amazed at the screen.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,174member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    326 to be exact, but it's not JUST an improvement in the resolution, it also has other very important improvements which aren't as easily advertised and therefore likely to be ignored by rivals.



    The others are:
    • Increased brightness. The 3GS was already brighter than other phones, but the iPhone 3 is even brighter.

    • IPS display. I'm amazed they improved the battery so much when using IPS over TN.

    • The glass bonding and less distortion. The least marketable to the average person, but there is no longer a space between the display and the glass seems to have better optics resulting in a clearer image under a microscope. The iPad appears to benefit from this, too. » http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjo...etina-display/




    H-IPS doesn't suffer from the S-IPS refresh rates.
  • Reply 13 of 29
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by majortom1981 View Post


    This should also stop the dust from getting inbetween the glass and the display. i used to get that all the time with my iphone 3gs. I just got my iphone 4 today and i am amazed at the screen.



    Another benefit. And hopefully that bonding will help with the Corning Gorilla Glass' ability to absorb an impact.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    H-IPS doesn't suffer from the S-IPS refresh rates.



    Can you add more info. My knowledge of displays is very limited. I know H-IPS came out after S-IPS but I don't know the inherent pros and cons of each. I can't even find info on which IPS display they are using. I've read that is also includes AFFS, but that doesn't seem universally accepted.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    djrumpydjrumpy Posts: 1,116member
    If you upgrade, I would suggest you hold your old phone next to the new one. You will be surprised by two things. The first being how clever they are when the dither colors to smooth edges and jaggies on fonts, and what second, what it looks like when that just isn't necessary.



    The display is flat out amazing. I didn't think it would be one of my favorite points in the new phone, but it has turned into a surprising pleasure.



    If you're holding out on a new iPhone due to problems with reception, know that a simple cover, which most people seem to end up with anyway, will resolve any issues. I just bought a clear Belkin case, which increased the thickness only by about 2 millimeters. I haven't been able to affect signal strength at all with the cover on, and it's MUCH improved over 3GS's call quality.



    If you like your phone bareback, then hold out until they resolve whatever issues they are having, but if you normally use a cover, don't sweat it.
  • Reply 15 of 29
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DJRumpy View Post


    If you upgrade, I would suggest you hold your old phone next to the new one. You will be surprised by two things. The first being how clever they are when the dither colors to smooth edges and jaggies on fonts, and what second, what it looks like when that just isn't necessary.



    The display is flat out amazing. I didn't think it would be one of my favorite points in the new phone, but it has turned into a surprising pleasure.



    If you're holding out on a new iPhone due to problems with reception, know that a simple cover, which most people seem to end up with anyway, will resolve any issues. I just bought a clear Belkin case, which increased the thickness only by about 2 millimeters. I haven't been able to affect signal strength at all with the cover on, and it's MUCH improved over 3GS's call quality.



    If you like your phone bareback, then hold out until they resolve whatever issues they are having, but if you normally use a cover, don't sweat it.



    One thing they did is use a new font to for the new display.
    While I don't this to be "clever", instead a requirement for a refined device, it's not something I would expect MS, Google HTC and others to include in their chosen shipping OS or OS addendum.



    You can read more about this change at the link below:
  • Reply 16 of 29
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    so one big thing, it appears, is that all the hype about the Droid X and other Androids capturing "HD" 720p video is crap. because 16 bit color is all its software can process. 16 bit color is not "HD," period, no matter the resolution (or how many megapixels in a still photo). the artifacts are definitely visible. and it is also outputting that crap to your TV via its much-hyped HDMI jack too.



    whereas the iPhone actually delivers the real thing, 24 bit all the way.



    let's see how fast all the Android hyping tech blogs pick up on this crucial Android spec flaw. prediction: they won't, or they will downplay it as something soon to be fixed with future Android products/updates, so it doesn't really count, you know? even when you buy a forever-crippled Evo now.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post


    so one big thing, it appears, is that all the hype about the Droid X and other Androids capturing "HD" 720p video is crap. because 16 bit color is all its software can process. 16 bit color is not "HD," period, no matter the resolution (or how many megapixels in a still photo). the artifacts are definitely visible. and it is also outputting that crap to your TV via its much-hyped HDMI jack too.



    whereas the iPhone actually delivers the real thing, 24 bit all the way.



    let's see how fast all the Android hyping tech blogs pick up on this crucial Android spec flaw. prediction: they won't, or they will downplay it as something soon to be fixed with future Android products/updates, so it doesn't really count, you know? even when you buy a forever-crippled Evo now.



    Yeah, but that's 65,536 colours of freedom!
  • Reply 18 of 29
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Yeah, but that's 65,536 colours of freedom!



    For freedom!
  • Reply 19 of 29
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,521member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Yeah, but that's 65,536 colours of freedom!





  • Reply 20 of 29
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by quinney View Post


    image: http://pwwwblog.ibeatyou.com/blog/wp...c101019223.jpg



    Off topic, but the news about his anger and racism today is out there. I guess we can knock a few more acceptable colours off if we're adding Mel Gibson into the mix.
Sign In or Register to comment.