Display battle: NOVA Display vs Super AMOLED vs Retina Display vs ClearBlack AMOLED
First, a bit of tech specs background. From left to right we had the iPhone 4, with its 3.5" IPS-LCD with stunning 640x960 pixels of resolution. IPS stands for In-Plane-Switching, and is currently the best high-end value for money proposition for mobile displays, at least until Samsung's PLS (Plane-to-Line-Switching) screens flood the market.
IPS-LCD is characterized with elevated brightness (the iPhone 4 shines with more than 500 nits), better contrast, wider viewing angles, and way lower power consumption than the conventional LCD displays.
The iPhone 4's IPS-LCD display is made by LG, but the company is obviously not done improving the technology, as it saved the best for itself, and planted the brightest mobile display out there in the thin and light LG Optimus Black. The 4" IPS-LCD in the Optimus Black has 480x800 pixels, and the company claims it clocks in at 700 nits, which is an astonishing feat for a mobile display. LG calls it the NOVA Display, and claims the increased brightness is not affecting battery life, but rather the screen is actually more power-efficient than its IPS-LCD predecessors.
The screen on the LG Optimus Black is supposedly drawing 0 watts when showing black, like what the AMOLED displays do, and 0.7 watts when showing an entirely white page. The iPhone 4's Retina Display munches on 0.42 watts in both cases, but considering most websites and ebooks have white backgrounds, the battery consumption from the NOVA display should in reality be on par with the Retina Display, so no worries.
Interestingly enough, the black areas of the test picture we used, looked as much illuminated by an LCD backlight on the LG Optimus Black, as they did on the iPhone 4, so we don't know what to make of LG's claim that the pixels draw no power when displaying black – for that they have to be completely turned off. Regardless, that's what a leaked comparison table showed, back when the Optimus Black was still codenamed the LG B.
Zero watt draw when showing black was a specialty reserved for AMOLED-based screens, like the third handset on the left we had, the Nokia E7. In their case, the pixel is completely off, that is why the screen is showing black as it's intended to be, not grayish like on the LCD technology, where the backlight is constantly on. Nokia E7's 4" display is called ClearBlack AMOLED, and has a polarizing filter sitting on top of it that blocks light, making it more visible in direct sunlight.
The final handset on the far right we had was the Samsung Galaxy S, which carries the so-called Super AMOLED technology, which is characterized with 20% more brightness, and the same amount less battery consumption than regular AMOLED, not to mention its whole package is thinner. The Super AMOLED on the Samsung Galaxy S also has a special anti-reflectance coating, that makes the phone's screen visible in direct sunlight as much as those on the IPS-LCD handsets, although it clocks in at "only" 300 nits of brightness.
All in all, it was the superior brightness of the IPS-LCD technology on the iPhone 4 and the LG Optimus Black versus the almost infinite contrast levels, wider viewing angles, saturated colors, and pitch black pixels of the AMOLED displays on the Nokia E7 and the Samsung Galaxy S.
As the pictures below clearly show, all the theoretical specs are confirmed when we place the phones side by side. The NOVA Display on the LG Optimus Black is arguably the brightest of the four, a tad brighter even than the iPhone 4's Retina Display, but with about the same performance as far as viewing angles go - the colors and brightness degraded when we passed a certain degree mark.
The ClearBlack AMOLED, and the Super AMOLED on the Nokia E7 and the Samsung Galaxy S clearly had no problem with wide viewing angles, keeping the colors punchy, and the brightness almost unchanged from 10 to 170 degrees. Bear in mind that the Nokia E7 was always on automatic display adjustment, which couldn't be turned off, so in the dark its display toned down the brightness quite a bit - it is actually as bright as the Super AMOLED, but this was only visible outside.
The outdoor pictures came to show how the anti-reflectance coating is at least as important, if not more, for better sunlight visibility than the high brightness. That is why the Samsung Galaxy S, with its superior anti-reflectance coating, and the Nokia E7, with its polarizing filter that blocks light, didn't fare much worse outside, compared to the way brighter iPhone 4 and LG Optimus Black.
As we mentioned, the Optimus Black we had was a non-final unit, and probably didn't have all the coatings like anti-reflectance and oleophobic applied yet, considering how easy it was to smudge the screen, so in its retail version the reflectance might be even lower, and then it might easily grab the outdoor visibility crown. Even in its non-final form, when looked at directly, the NOVA display appears brighter than the other technologies, although in reality it won't scorch your eyebrows with some groundbreaking difference.
For an in-depth comparison of the current mobile display technologies in terms of brightness, contrast, color saturation, viewing angles and resolution, you can read our comprehensive article here.
Which screen technology is most to your liking? Tell us in the comments below!
1. yuya (unregistered)
ClearBlack Amoled>NOVA>Super AMOLED>Retina Display
4. mike (unregistered)
you must be definitely blind cuz the ClearBlack Amoled looks awful and over saturated
41. jgcaap (Posts: 36; Member since: 22 Feb 2011)
i think he ment the other way around. retina Display first then super amoled then nova then clear black :)
2. djmo (unregistered)
@PhoneArena is it possible that you compare the 'Reality Display'
3. calamazoo (unregistered)
REality display is Super LCD made by Sony, which is similar to lg's offerings, but sony actually just bumps up the contrast and brightness while watching videos or pics, pretty much a marketing hype
5. pecemaloto (Posts: 22; Member since: 17 Dec 2010)
angles- who cares bout that??
size- NOKIA LG SAMSUNG, APPLE
sunlight- APPLE LG,NOKIA,SAMSUNG
-ALL EXCELLENT FOR PORN WATCHING...
CHOICE IS URS...
6. SPcamert (Posts: 56; Member since: 06 Feb 2010)
I prefer the Samsung Galaxy S for the color saturation and the brightness. The two LCD's don't really impress me. At least not in these photos.
7. Owlet (Posts: 446; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)
Of course, Apple's Retina Display is better! And if it's not as good at something as other displays, just take it outside, or change the angle, or something... Good job, PA!
8. a (unregistered)
For me : Samsung Galaxy S is better .
24. Pol (unregistered)
Agree. The real life is in outdoors and often with direct sunlight. Samsung has the best contrast in this situation. The most readable numbers in the gray shades is for the Galaxy. Period.
9. mycrownvic02 (unregistered)
You mean lgs retina display? Apple can take no claim to that, as they didnt even make the screen. The nova screen would be my choice. The sammys super amoled is also nice though.
10. Owlet (Posts: 446; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)
When Steve introduced iPhone last summer, I didn't hear anything about LG, when he kept saying what a breakthrough piece of technology his iPhone had for a screen. So, yes, Apple can.
BTW, my comment was sarcastic, I think you didn't get it.
18. Lucas777 (Posts: 2121; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)
you guys r stupid... apple developed the retina display technology, made probably a few copies, but dont have the means to PRODUCE a bunch. So they have lg, who has a bunch of screen thingies, implement their technology and manufacture their screens for them...
20. rick james (unregistered)
you guys are all dumb....retina is made by samsung...
53. ikkuh (unregistered)
One thing is for sure: Apple can't make anything on its own. The technology is way out of his league. Even ios is Linux under the hood. The only thing apple is good at is ripping of peoples money. Buying any Apple product is really really stupid.
25. BaiGanyo (Posts: 308; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)
I'm sure it was LG, just because of their experience in screen technology. The invented capacative touchscreen tech so it makes more sense. It wasn't apple, thats for sure. They are just a software company who tries to patch together whichever hardware will work with it.
11. mycrownvic02 (unregistered)
sarcasm on the interweb > me Sometimes hard to tell..
12. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
super amoled (and soon super duper amoled) for me. im a sucker for true black. i also would rather have the larger screen over the cramped screen with slightly better resolution.
13. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 847; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)
It's between the E7 and Galaxy S. But with the E7's readability outdoors, it gets the nod.
14. Rob (unregistered)
I wanted to like the LG display, while the Nokia sparked some interest in me, and the iPhone's merits are well publicisized... but the Samsung display actually wound up winning me over.
15. snowgator (Posts: 3199; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)
The Samsung still looks the best from these photos, and in real life it is just a plain show stopper. The LG really looks good, and I have no doubts will be great with a finished product. Never given Nokia it's due. What a spectacular screen. The iPhone is fourth, but really, even iPhone haters have to say fourth in this group is way ahead of most other screens.
16. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
phone arena always ask us for what do we think not what do we think is right -__- stop spamming phonearena!! with ur idiotic debates u make phonearena look bad thumbs down all comment well the negative ones to show they dont matter feel free to thumb me down itsa complement :)
17. Owlet (Posts: 446; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)
I didn't get what you think about different displays from your comment.
Have you read any of the comments you thumbed down? Doesn't look like it. Your really make this website look bad. Keep your hands off the mouse, kiddo.
36. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
nah :) i just do that for attention ;)
19. youranidiot (unregistered)
Not one of you bitch faggots have proper grammer and composition. If your going to talk shit too and about eachother, do it correctly.
27. Owlet (Posts: 446; Member since: 21 Feb 2011)
GrammAr, not grammEr.
You're or you are, not your.
In your context, to, not too.
Each other, not eachother.
DO IT CORRECTLY.
21. CTAPbIi (unregistered)
thx a lot for this review, I was really battling looking for comparison between IPS LCD and Super AMOLED.
It will be nice to see updated version of this review when SGS2 will be available though.
Just my 2 cents - Sammy's screen looks oversaturated for me, it's like difference in colors on TVs: LCD vs plasma.
22. ahmedra2ol (Posts: 27; Member since: 01 Mar 2011)
LG Optimus Black is the best here after it (iphone= samsung) then come nokia at last because it is so dark :( thump up if you agree
30. clevername (Posts: 1428; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)
Nova seemed great but as far as ips goes brightness won't win me over. Retina is plenty bright and has a higher resolution. The resolution is what wins me over here and it's barely mentioned. Pixel density makes for sharper images not color or brightness(although they can play a part). Retina's density is far superior and gives hd videos and graphics a much more organic and fluid feel than super amoled (I only say super amoled because it's they only other display I have experience on). Viewing angles aren't a big thing to me because I look straight at my phone. I don't know who doesn't. As far as blacks go the retina display can get pretty black. No super amoled black but very friction close. By no measure would I say dark grey. But samoled does have better blacks.
Overall like I said for me it's all about resolution. PPI to be more exact.
26. vishal400 (unregistered)
clear black dispaly shows original colours. And i don't consider iphone display,, its too old technology of display. E7 ans galaxy are winners here.
28. vishal400 (unregistered)
comparing lg and iphone display with e7 and galaxy is like comparing LCD TV vs LED TV. HA HA. LED wins
31. cedd (unregistered)
clearblack of nokia is the best from what i see
32. T DAWGv12 (Posts: 13; Member since: 09 Dec 2009)
Based on the pictures here, Super amoled plus on galaxy s wins here, nokia would have to seen or have the auto adjust turned off though to be fair. Any company still working with yesterdays mobile display technology's are behind the curve which for apple in particular is the name of the game anyhow.
33. hacknet (unregistered)
Where is the Q-HD Display for the Atrix??? Should be in this list with the top devices. fail.
34. Herkus Mantas (unregistered)
So, I must go for Samsung Galaxy S or for Nokia E7 display. I more outdoor user, like play with phone in bright daylight, summer time in London Parks.
Yes I like LG Black display but if no anti-reflectance coating then not for me. iPhone 4 display nice but also without anti-reflectance coating not for me.
THANKS Phone Arena for nice displays comparison.
35. calamazoo (unregistered)
they all have anti-reflectance coating, except the Optimus Black, which was a prototype t6he guy said and will have it in the final version. Just that the Galaxy S has a very low reflectance, so, despite that the Retina display and the NOVA display are so bright, outdoors they are only slightly better than the Galaxy S and the ClearBlack AMOLED...
37. Galen20K (Posts: 512; Member since: 26 Dec 2008)
Wow Nova is really impressive!! Definitely the brightest although Super AMOLED is richer in colors still all look amazing in my opinion.
38. john10001 (unregistered)
I think that the Nokia and Samsung have better displays especially when outdoors as they don't have as much glare and reflection. I don't think Nokia has managed to produce a better display though than the one on its 5800.
39. stani (unregistered)
for me super amoled is the best!
40. Jasper (unregistered)
Samsung has the edge in producing these screens, but nokia does impresses somewhat...
43. Dr sasidhar reddy (unregistered)
ALWAYS RETINA DISPLAY """ROCKS""...
45. M27 (unregistered)
Lol, all 4 displays are from 2 korean companys. LG & Samsung. IPS in iPhone is from LG and Amolend in N8 is from Samsung, so all 4 best displays are from LG & Samsung
46. Questions. (unregistered)
Read people READ before posting. The Nokia's automatic light sencore can't be turned off. That is why it looks darker in dark. Better for eyes that way you know? With full contrast would be way brighter. SO READ BEFORE POSTING.
47. h (unregistered)
Super AMOLED Plus & Super AMOLED
48. d12south (unregistered)
Sorry guys , defiantly Nokia E7 wins!
Just look how it performs under light.
49. R@R#M@N (unregistered)
where is S.E arc ??
Bravia Engine most better than displays
50. fb_dragon76 (Posts: 19; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)
i love a great screen but a so so screen wont keep me from downloading and sending porn either so im good. what kills me is that they make screen protectors that blocks angles so you can enjoy your porn in peace w/o the hypocritical eyes glaring at you from an angle.
51. IOS5 (unregistered)
Clear black display the worst! I played with E7 in store two things I liked in this phone
- call quilaty and speakers with noise cancellation
- qwtary keyboard
Other than that the screen has to many pixels too dark nothing special on CBD compere to Retina, Super Amoled and Nova cuz CBD has the lowest resolution 640x360 in 4" screen too bad.
52. ikkuh (unregistered)
I think it isnt fair to compare small screen's (3,5") with big ones (4") besides that i still like the amoled's better because of the high contrast ratio and the vivid colours. Samsung still makes the best screens.
54. joey18 (Posts: 514; Member since: 20 Jul 2010)
You guys are stupid retina display is make kasastan bora produtions
55. Mini_Pritchy_18 (Posts: 4; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)
I've tried out the Samsung galaxy s and i can tell you it is lush, i love everything about it, I'm not sure about outdoors and I'm not saying it is better but you will definatly be satisfied