The five displays viewed at an angle from below. Again, each display has been photographed individually
Display comparison: HTC One X vs iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, LG Nitro HD, Samsung Galaxy S II
A display can either make or break a handset, which is why we often take the cream of the crop of the smartphone world for a thorough screen examination. Just recently, we got to review the HTC One X, and that gorgeous Super-LCD 2 display left us with a pretty good impression. That is why we decided to put it against a quartet of modern smartphones in order to see how it compares. The contenders we chose were the iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, LG Optimus LTE (which is pretty much identical to the LG Nitro HD for AT&T), and the Samsung Galaxy S II.
Now, all of these five smartphones have pretty good displays, but only by pitting them against each other we can tell which one has the best screen of all. So without further ado, let us begin by taking a look at the display specs for each device:
It is a bright, sunny day here, which is perfect for the goal of this article! Sure enough, we took the five handsets outside and put them side by side to see which one delivers the best results under broad daylight. Without a doubt, the HTC One X grabs the top spot in this category as its Super-LCD 2 panel noticeably outshines the rest, but the IPS-LCD display on the iPhone 4S is almost as good when it comes to outdoor visibility. The IPS-LCD display on the Optimus LTE and the Super AMOLED Plus panel on the Samsung Galaxy S II are usable as well, as long as they are not reflecting the sun rays directly towards the user's face. However, with them the drop in contrast is more evident. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus may not be impossible to use under such conditions, but its Super AMOLED HD screen is definitely the worst performer among the bunch.
Since four out of the five displays that we are comparing have resolutions exceeding the 300ppi milestone, it is really hard to pick a clear winner in this category. The fact of the matter is that even the finest of text is just as easily legible on the screens of the One X, iPhone 4S, and Optimus LTE. The Galaxy Nexus has a display with a PenTile pixel arrangement, which makes tiny text slightly jagged, but in reality that hardly makes any difference as it is barely noticeable. Same is the case when viewing graphics – individual pixels on these four devices' displays are nearly impossible to distinguish as they blend together creating picture-perfect visuals. Only the display on the Samsung Galaxy S II lags behind with its relatively low pixel density of 215ppi. Don't get us wrong for this WVGA Super AMOLED Plus screen is still more than okay for the average Joe, but it is far from what the most demanding users would expect to get nowadays.
Determining which one of these displays delivers the best colors is a bit tricky. After all, some people prefer the punchy colors of AMOLED displays, while others prefer more neutral tones. Still, if precise and natural color representation is of importance, the Super-LCD 2 panel on the HTC One X and the IPS-LCD display on the iPhone 4S hold the top spot. Colors on the One X's screen might seem slightly more saturated than what we would classify as neutral, but that is what makes photos and graphics come to life. On the other hand, when put next to the HTC One X, the colors on the iPhone 4S's screen look slightly washed out, but not too much and still classify as natural.
The IPS-LCD on the LG Optimus LTE has a pretty neutral color reproduction as well and is nearly as good as the aforementioned two, although whites tend to look a bit grayish. As for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S II, colors on their displays look impressive, but way too unnatural due to the excessive saturation that AMOLED panels are associated with. Also, whites on the Super AMOLED Plus panel of the Galaxy S II appear slightly blueish. One thing that we have to admit, however, is that these two AMOLED screens excel when it comes to displaying black, although the Super-LCD 2 panel is almost as good at that, followed by the IPS-LCD displays on the iPhone 4S and LG Optimus LTE.
When viewing angles are concerned, the two Super AMOLED panels have the upper hand, although they are not leading by miles. They retain their brightness levels fairly well even when tilted to the extreme, but at the expense of color accuracy. The Super-LCD 2 screen on the One X, however, is nearly as good for it remains clearly visible even when viewed at a very steep angle, and the shift in color hue is minimal to non-existent. The IPS-LCD panels on the iPhone 4S and the LG Optimus LTE do not disappoint either, but they are still no match for the competition.
If we say that the Super-LCD 2 panel on the HTC One X is currently among the best ones out there, we won't be mistaken. There simply isn't anything bad that we can say about it, and we are more than happy with its real life performance. Colors on it look great, using it outdoors is nothing to worry about, and its viewing angles are way above the average. At the same time, it is impressive to see that the IPS-LCD display on the iPhone 4S does not trail far behind despite being around for over a year and a half. What we like about it is the accurate color reproduction and high pixel density, which when put together result in a symphony for the eye.
The IPS-LCD screen on the LG Optimus LTE and the Super AMOLED HD display Samsung Galaxy Nexus deserve to be honored as well for delivering a high level of image detail. Still, we wish that the former had better reproduction of whites, and that the latter was easier to use outdoors. And as for the Samsung Galaxy S II and its Super AMOLED Plus panel, we still remember how excited we were when we saw it in person for the first time, but it becomes evident how quickly it is now being overtaken by more advanced display technologies. Exaggerated colors are getting old and its pixel density is nothing to brag about nowadays.