With July now well underway, it's safe to say that most of us will soon be on our way to sunny beaches. Summer can be particularly tough on smartphone users, especially when talking about using your handset under direct sunlight. Depending on a mix of factors, including screen brightness and cover glass reflectivity, the result can be a screen that is easy to make out, or one that is impossible to.
Nowadays, it's safe to say that most flagship devices come with display stacks that are, for the most part (but not necessarily) not very reflective, so screen brightness happens to be a rather important factor. Measured in nits, we have a vast database of screen measurements for a large number of devices, and brightness is on that list. For the most part, it's relatively safe to say that a brighter screen will be easier to make out, though, obviously, a very reflective glass will diminish the effect. For example, the Oppo Find 7A's display, which outputs 455 nits of brightness, is notably harder to make out when compared with the Samsung Galaxy S5's screen, which outputs 442 nits. That said, if the Find 7A's display was as bright as the Lumia 1520 (707 nits), it probably would prove as equally-visible, or even more. If all this didn't make it obvious enough, then just remember this: higher brightness doesn't necessarily mean better outdoor visibility.
With the above distinction and disclaimers in mind, find below the top 10 flagships with the brightest displays currently on the market, from brightest to dimmest.
Top 10 flagships with brightest displays
Top 10 flagships with brightest displays
Indeed, while BlackBerry is now a shadow of its former glory, the Z10 does come with an extremely bright display, at the whopping 739 nits. It's excellent for use outdoors, even under direct sunlight.
The large, 6-inch Lumia 1520 also comes with an incredible display that can crank up the brightness to up to 707 nits. That's incredible, especially considering how large the panel is.
The display on the Apple iPhone 5s has become something of a reference point, at least as far as brightness (587 nits) goes.
The rugged Galaxy S5 Active also has a very potent display, which can get its brightness up to 491 nits. This is likely the perfect phone for the beach, as you really won't have to worry about damaging it.
The new One's display brightness measures in at 490 nits, which is also decent.
The affordable Nexus 5 also comes with a display (485 nits) that you'll be able to make it out easily.
A year ago we wouldn't even think of putting a Xiaomi flagship on this list, but the company's meteoric rise definitely caught our attention. For its part, its current flagship -- the Mi-3 -- is a great device for use outdoors, what with its 463 nits and non-reflective cover glass.
Sony's latest flagship is none too shabby, either, when it comes to use outdoors. Its screen peaks at 458 nits, which is decent.
When we first received the Korean LG G3 version, we were kind of let down by its dim display. Thankfully, it turned out that the European version is much improved in this regard (though there are still caveats), and its screen's brightness of 455 nits makes it usable under direct sunlight.
As mentioned before, the Oppo Find 7a's 455 nits of brightness may seem decent, but, in reality, the screen is actually a pain to use outdoors, unlike any other device on this list. So take these numbers with a pinch of salt.
Number eleven on our list (bonus slide!) is the Galaxy S5, with its 442 nits. Now, keep in mind that our measurement of the GS5's brightness can be a tad misleading, as we measured it in GS5's Standard mode, with the S5 displaying a 100% white color, which is very taxing on the Super AMOLED screen in terms of power draw. For that reason, the GS5 is more conservative when displaying massive amounts of white. If you, however, opt to go for Adapt Display mode, and view content other than a completely white screen, the GS5 will display that content with higher brightness (up to 580 nits). In fact, in our tests, with Adapt Display on, the GS5 is as easy to make out outside as the iPhone 5s, and both of then topped our outdoor viability comparison