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Best display for outdoor use comparison: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 vs Apple iPhone 5s vs Note 3 vs the rest

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Best display for outdoor use comparison: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 vs Apple iPhone 5s vs Note 3 vs the rest
Summer is right around the corner and what this means is more time spent outdoors, be it for vacations at the beach, by the swimming pool, or just for a walk. One device that will always make you company whenever you go is your smartphone, but in those (hopefully!) sunny days ahead of us, the brightness of the sun feels like a blessing for us, but it's like a curse for smartphone displays. Problem is, that the light from the sun is many times brighter than even the brightest-lit room, and it is very hard for our displays to adapt to these very bright conditions.

Try picking up your phone out in the sun, and you'll quickly find yourself looking for a shade or trying to shield it with your arms, just to see who's called, texted, or what's the time.

Some phones, however, are different than others: they can get brighter, they have anti-reflection filters, and it's generally much easier to see what's on their displays than on others. To see what's the difference we emptied our shelf with top-notch smartphones, packed them in a bag, took a look up to the sky to make sure there is indeed not a single cloud, and went out to enjoy the sun. We did not go to the beach just yet, though - it was time for a field test!

We set all the devices we had to automatic brightness as that's the settings that we think most people will use, pushing every other possible brightness option to the maximum (we also enabled Adapt display for Samsung phones, a setting that boost display luminance even higher). Here's what we found out.

Display outdoor visibility for top smartphones


First, it was time for a general test for which we compared all the smartphones we had with us. We had 8 devices: the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Galaxy S4, the Note 3, the Nexus 5, the Apple iPhone 5s, the Sony Xperia Z1, the HTC One M8, and M7.

It was time to double-check all the settings, and once again make sure all displays are tuned to auto brightness. In the images below, you'd see that on one or two of the phones, it's so hard to see what's on the display that you might think the screen is turned off. It is not - the sun just shines so bright that it's nearly impossible to make out what's on the screen. Others, on the other hand, were much easier to read and you could even notice tinier details in the images we displayed. Take a look and let us know, which one you think looks better in the sun.


Phonearena polls
sort by
Which phone has the best display for outdoor use?
3.53%
207 votes
(207 votes) Nexus 5
2.54%
149 votes
(149 votes) Samsung Galaxy S4
1.18%
69 votes
(69 votes) HTC One M7
15.63%
918 votes
(918 votes) Samsung Galaxy Note 3
8.87%
521 votes
(521 votes) Apple iPhone 5s
52.72%
3096 votes
(3096 votes) Samsung Galaxy S5
8.99%
528 votes
(528 votes) HTC One M8
6.54%
384 votes
(384 votes) Sony Xperia Z1

5872 votes


Three-way: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 vs Apple iPhone 5s display outdoor visibility comparison


After this extensive test of 8 devices, it is time to look at just the best sellers: Samsung's Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8, and the Apple iPhone 5s. These three devices made an impressive showing in the 8-way comparison, but upon closer expection - looking at just them alone - one would be able to easier see the differences, and understand which one looks better under direct sunlight.


Phonearena polls
sort by
Which phone has the better display for outdoor use?
10.19%
418 votes
(418 votes) Apple iPhone 5s
78.35%
3213 votes
(3213 votes) Samsung Galaxy S5
11.46%
470 votes
(470 votes) HTC One M8

4101 votes


The battle for the Android top: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8 display outdoor visibility comparison


Finally, we decided to leave just the two top Android devices for this year: the newly launched Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8. Which of the two does better in the sun? We already saw how the Galaxy S5 has the brightest AMOLED display to date, and in the sun, it should be able to go into overdrive with Adapt display on. At the same time, we have the HTC One M8 that features an LCD display, a technology that does not have the same difficulties with high brightness as AMOLED. So which one does better? We leave it up to you to say.

Phonearena polls
sort by
Which display do you prefer for outdoor use?
81.59%
3298 votes
(3298 votes) Samsung Galaxy S5
18.41%
744 votes
(744 votes) HTC One M8

4042 votes

152 Comments
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posted on 02 May 2014, 08:27 46

1. FriendsOfSamsung (unregistered)


Galaxy s5 and note 3 enough said, no other come close to that

posted on 02 May 2014, 08:33 26

5. Duketytz (Posts: 327; Member since: 28 Nov 2013)


They are missing Lumia my friend which beats both display hands down.http://m.wpcentral.com/supersized-face-nokia-lumia-1520-against-galaxy-note-3-and-xperia-z-ultra
Ooooh sorry to burst your bubble my dear fanboy, must have hurt quite alot to know that dear samsung is not really the top right?

posted on 02 May 2014, 08:34 40

6. FriendsOfSamsung (unregistered)


Go home you're drunk, Nokia is so irrelevant in 2014

posted on 02 May 2014, 08:38 22

8. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 725; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


How is Nokia irrelevant? His point is still valid, stop being a fanboy.

posted on 02 May 2014, 10:45 15

65. Cicero (Posts: 207; Member since: 22 Jan 2014)


The 3%?

posted on 06 May 2014, 14:05

140. TheGenius (Posts: 262; Member since: 06 Mar 2014)


Take my like.!!

posted on 02 May 2014, 08:51 17

18. Duketytz (Posts: 327; Member since: 28 Nov 2013)


Wait you are drunk, Nokia irrelevant just because it is sold to Microsoft? Or is it because such a company can tremble you in your seat that your Samsung is not going to be the top in certain categories. Dude give credits where it is relevant. What samsung has is a brand name that is leading to the insane amount of sales that they are getting for their 'great' devices.

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:04 8

27. hiwilms (Posts: 2; Member since: 02 May 2014)


WTF man? You're so stuck with Samesung. They never changed anyhting. I am an Apple fan, but when I use my Lumia 1020, I can see the screen better than my iPhone 5S. I borrowed the S4 of my classmate, but it doesn't look good.

posted on 06 May 2014, 14:06

141. TheGenius (Posts: 262; Member since: 06 Mar 2014)


Go home. U drunk

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:10 7

33. akki20892 (Posts: 3255; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Scare to put in competition.

posted on 02 May 2014, 22:11 1

111. Imaxxacre (Posts: 50; Member since: 23 Aug 2009)


C'mon dude. I use Android phones, but Nokia makes (mostly) awesome WP8 handsets.

posted on 09 May 2014, 08:30

145. y2kandroid (Posts: 3; Member since: 09 May 2014)


Obviously you have not owned one. I have owned the G1 and many other androids. I owned an Iphone for about two hours. I bought a cheap Nokia Lumia 521 which I intended to hate. WRONG Screen and touch screen fantastic. Can leave the phone on all day and it is still charged at 86 percent with all the windows flashing around. Samsung my SII charging port went out after 4mos. Bought it refurbished from AT&T and Samsung would do nothing. I have a Lumia 900 in route so I can play with the camera. Shame shame for you to put things down that you have no experience with. I carry T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint..... But that is another story.

posted on 02 May 2014, 08:38 32

9. tech2 (Posts: 1783; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


'samsung is not really the top right?'
Samsung is not at the top and Nokia is ? :D.....With Samsung's profit they can buy Nokia 4 times in a year. Anyways,....

Lumia doesn't beat GS5.

-Does it go down to 2 nits ?

-Can you change to cinema mode which offers the best colour reproduction ?

-Lumia's max brightness is 522 nits (source: gsmarena) and GS5 is over 650 nits !

Also, it scores poorly in sunlight visibility on gsmarena. 1520@1.83 vs GS5@3.5
and that's huge difference ! Almost twice as brighter than Lumia 1520 !

posted on 02 May 2014, 08:45 5

13. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2261; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Once again the cinema mode was just proven to not to be the most accurate... Watch some content from Erica Griffin on Youtube and Twitter

posted on 02 May 2014, 08:59 25

24. tech2 (Posts: 1783; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Nyahhhh..... I think I'll believe DisplayMate which has won more than 50 awards for their detailed reviews, credibility and indepth analysis rather than an independent youtuber, who has no where near access to resources and funds display mate has.

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:16 2

37. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2261; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


When measuring the display on S5 they measured the stuff only at 50 percent and 100 percent saturated colours. But supercurio's measurements show that between those points there's a lot going on.

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:26 19

41. shuaibhere (Posts: 1297; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


You keep on believing erica griffin...
whole world believes in displaymate & gsmarena....

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:28 6

43. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2261; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Well, that's sad. Also, whole N. Korea believes in Kim Jong-un

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:43 15

52. shuaibhere (Posts: 1297; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


Are you have nothing credible to reply???

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:47 1

53. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2261; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


What does that mean?

posted on 02 May 2014, 10:53 6

67. tedkord (Posts: 4282; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


No they don't, they're just to scared to admit it.

posted on 02 May 2014, 11:05

71. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2261; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


The propaganda there is so strong that I'm sure they actually trust in him. They don't know about a better life. Very sad.

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:27 9

42. ojdidit84 (Posts: 252; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)


I see what she's saying about DisplayMate exaggerating the claims on the color accuracy of Cinema Mode but at the same time, I feel like she is a bit biased because the software being used is that of her soon to be husband. That and her long founded hatred for Amoled (same way I felt when I saw the SGS1 with it's way over the top, over-saturated colors and that UI).

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:30

44. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2261; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


I think Erica is like the most unbiased reviewer out there. She bashes every company a lot, and then again praises them. I trust supercurio's software. After all he's specialized in just mobile devices screen measurements and wants to design new ways to calibrate display and so on.

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:49 14

55. shuaibhere (Posts: 1297; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


You know what????
She hates amoled...

"After all he's
specialized in just
mobile devices screen
measurements and
wants to design new
ways to calibrate
display and so on"
so you're saying displaymate is not specialised in display????
I cannot help but laugh at you...
Anyway you'll never agree...and keep on saying that Z2 has best display....
So I can't do anything about it...

posted on 02 May 2014, 10:07 6

59. refillable (Posts: 583; Member since: 10 Mar 2014)


Let me clear this out. He was saying that he believes Supercurio's testing is more accurate thatn Displaymate's testing.

BTW S5 is showing it's great screen here.

posted on 02 May 2014, 10:11

60. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2261; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


You know what????
She provides lot's of proof WHY.

Supercurio is only mobile and as I said he does new things and so on you know? Tries to revolutionize. Kind of.

posted on 02 May 2014, 10:23 14

63. shuaibhere (Posts: 1297; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


Display mate has even more proof...
I don't believe inreviews made which has relys on one mans opinion...that's why I don't take reviews from PA,anandtech seriously.....
Rather I believe in reviews made by group of experts with no biased opinion.....
That's I why believe in gsmarena, displaymate,dxomark etc....

posted on 02 May 2014, 10:29

64. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2261; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Einstein and Hawkings made/make their work alone. I think they are quite trusty.

posted on 02 May 2014, 12:15

79. shuaibhere (Posts: 1297; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


And there is nothing like bias in their opinion..

posted on 02 May 2014, 10:02

57. hung2900 (Posts: 769; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


I don't know why most reviewers ignore a very basic problem of Amoled production yield: quality variance. In the past, I saw very different Note 2/S3/S4 displays with the same version (Exynos, Made in Vietnam). It's better with at least the GS5 I saw in stores, but it is still a problem of AMOLED production (coz it's still costly to produce).

So what is the point? Displaymate S5's screen may be simply different from Supercurio S5's screen or Anandtech S5's screen. And their reviews cannot tell 100% the fact of all GS5 consumed. I saw a lot of very good Note 3 screen, and some not-so-good also.

posted on 02 May 2014, 11:02 3

69. tedkord (Posts: 4282; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


That's true of any screen type, or any tech. My buddy down the street can buy an Intel CPU that over clocks 20% on air cooling with no issues, while u could buy the exact same CPU and mine can't even do 10% without overheating. There's no such thing as exact same quality.

Either way, though the S5 does have some distinct advantages, I think we're at the point that any flagship device 1080p screen is going to be good enough.

posted on 02 May 2014, 10:46

66. gigantos (Posts: 43; Member since: 25 Jul 2013)


And then Nokia 808 PureView got 4.698, the king in that department. That's no small difference, neither. But outdoor visibility is not the whole thing, and I can agree that Samsung recent flagship maybe have best displays around.

posted on 02 May 2014, 20:39

105. sniper1087 (Posts: 331; Member since: 31 Dec 2011)


Is funny when you mentioned 2 nits, but the led lights on the buttons are as bright as max display that it bothers you anyways, this was mentioned on pocketnow on a podcast so you could verify. Even though is not a bad idea it is pointless, because is either have those lights or dont see them at all, and that is just a bad idea.

posted on 09 May 2014, 08:44

146. y2kandroid (Posts: 3; Member since: 09 May 2014)


So you think that Samsung is bigger than Microsoft. I think your facts are a little out of wack. Samsung 20.6 Billion Annual Revenue. Microsoft Annual Revenue 77.8 Billion nearly 4 times that of Samsung. You must be a politician because your facts are way wrong. Oh but their is more Google earned 57.86 Billion in 2013 and they own Motorola Cellular Phones. So there are TWO US Owned Phone manufactures that make Samsung look like a pip squeek. So it like open pie whole insert foot!

posted on 15 Jun 2014, 10:29

151. TAMARETTE (Posts: 2; Member since: 15 Jun 2014)


Time for you to gnosh on that foot. There are many different way to calculate revenue, the three biggest are the Financial Times Global 500, the Forbes Global 2000 and Fortune Global 500. I'm assuming you got it from the Forbes Global 2000, but even in that Samsung crushes Microsoft. Samsung's annual revenue is 320 billion, almost 5 times Microsoft's annual revenue. I have NO idea where you dreamed up that number.

posted on 16 Jun 2014, 11:58

152. FanBoyNot (Posts: 3; Member since: 03 May 2014)


y2kandroid, TAMARETTE: did either of you check the title of this post? Stay on topic please!

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:34 8

48. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 2672; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


1520 was defeated by note 3 in gsmarena's display tests. Nokia's claim about outdoor visibility was false. Here above being no fanboy GS5 is easily the best, thanks to high brightness and low reflectivity of amoled

posted on 02 May 2014, 12:19 1

80. Ashoaib (Posts: 1215; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Even in this photo which you have posted, S5 is looking better... are you insane or what?

posted on 02 May 2014, 14:17 2

89. SIGPRO (Posts: 393; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)


Lumia 925 600 Nits
Lumia 1020 600 Nits
Lumia 1520 660 Nits
Nokia 701 1000 yes 1000 Nits.

The Nokia 701 Symbian3 phone has 1000 Nits, no other phone comes close!

posted on 02 May 2014, 22:10

110. tech2 (Posts: 1783; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Any source to confirm those stats ? I doubt 1520 goes upto 660

posted on 09 May 2014, 08:48

147. y2kandroid (Posts: 3; Member since: 09 May 2014)


Do you know how to google. Actually, Nokia cites 600 nits peak brightness for the screen, which is an excellent number, but only kicks in when bright direct light falls on the sensor, preserving battery in the majority of situations. The display can also be used with gloves and fingernails, as it sports the Synaptics supersensitive tech that finds its way in many flagships lately, and almost the entire Lumia lineup, too.

posted on 03 May 2014, 11:46

123. gamblor77 (Posts: 67; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


FYI - S5 is 698 nits auto brightness and listed as best screen ever tested on displaymate. Which is a very reputable site:

http://www.displaymate.com/Galaxy_S5_ShootOut_1.htm

posted on 02 May 2014, 17:54 3

94. cheetah2k (Posts: 768; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)


Nokia use Samsung screens anyways lol

posted on 02 May 2014, 17:58 1

95. bigdawg23 (Posts: 345; Member since: 25 May 2011)


I have a Lumia 1020 and Note 3. The Note 3 blows it way in outdoor viewing. Last weekend I got annoyed with trying to see the screen while filming some drag races. Now the camera on the 1020 blows away almost everything else.

posted on 06 May 2014, 14:11

142. TheGenius (Posts: 262; Member since: 06 Mar 2014)


But it cannot shoot videos with same quality as note 3.!
Note even beats the cannon 5D. !

posted on 03 May 2014, 11:55

124. gamblor77 (Posts: 67; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


S5 is rated the best display of any mobile ever tested on displaymate. 698 nits auto brightness and much brighter than the 1020's 600. If this was a camera test I would say 1020 no question, but display I give to the S5 no question.

http://www.displaymate.com/Galaxy_S5_ShootOut_1.htm

My Note is perfectly readable in direct sunlight with auto brightness so the S5 will seriously kick ass. No room for outdated phones like the 1020... sorry fan boy. :P

posted on 04 May 2014, 03:29

128. zelase (Posts: 8; Member since: 20 Apr 2014)


nope it cant beat s5 i guess ur having stupid lumia

posted on 06 May 2014, 12:30

139. jpraveensn (Posts: 4; Member since: 01 Nov 2012)


The link above does show the comparison but I guess that's not sunlight at all

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:10 10

34. hung2900 (Posts: 769; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


As I remember, PhoneArena based on the "on-paper brightness" to say that HTC One M8 has better outdoor visibility. And now the result is so clear, even Note 3 is better.

And I have no idea there are still ridiculous brain-less fans still chose HTC One M8 even it's very very clear above.

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:11 2

35. akki20892 (Posts: 3255; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Camera focus and angle can't determine winner, it's up to eye view.

posted on 02 May 2014, 09:48 11

54. buccob (Posts: 1307; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


S5 > Note 3 > iPhone / Z1 > One M8 > Nexus > S4 > One M7

posted on 02 May 2014, 11:04

70. zhiae (Posts: 167; Member since: 26 Aug 2012)


They are good but display of m8 is the most dirty that make it not fair enough

posted on 02 May 2014, 12:45

84. torr310 (Posts: 335; Member since: 27 Oct 2011)


Screw it, they are all hard to read, even to see!

It is only easy to see when it's black and white. Maybe there is a mode would switch to B/W when it detects sunlight (can be turned off too).

posted on 03 May 2014, 09:49

118. UncleRoger (Posts: 1; Member since: 03 May 2014)


Right on, torr310 - can I get an AMEN! Such a simple, elegant solution to the problem of outdoor viewing. Are you hearing us, Sammy?

posted on 04 May 2014, 07:07

131. true4494 (Posts: 4; Member since: 27 May 2013)


According to the specs from samsung display blog, the max brightness of s5 note 3 and s4 is 351 310 and 287 respectively, the max brightness of nexus 5, m7, m8 and iphone is 436 358 496 and 502 respectively,I really feel very confused with the comparation result, who can tell me what happened?

posted on 04 May 2014, 13:49

134. LionStone (Posts: 444; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)


Yay, they 'finally' made a usable screen for people that are outdoors more than just walking to the car.

posted on 09 May 2014, 14:54

148. nedooo (Posts: 15; Member since: 10 Apr 2012)


Well close so close are Apple, Sony and LG...and surely Nokia...I guess there are more that comes close (Blackberry...IGZO displays...), but here Samsung is a bit better then rest...for someone a hair is a big thing I guess it is a perspective of microbe ;)

posted on 02 May 2014, 08:28 7

2. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 1124; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)


Everyone here will just go for the brand/phone they like.

posted on 02 May 2014, 08:32

4. imnotascammer (Posts: 31; Member since: 22 Aug 2012)


Obviously. (,--)

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