Screen Comparison: Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 vs Xperia Z vs One vs Galaxy S III vs Lumia 920
You want the details? Read on!
Brightness and Visibility
Despite the improvements that Samsung continues to do to its so-called Super AMOLED screen technology, it's still lagging behind the quality LCD screens in the brightness department. We find the LCD displays of the iPhone 5, One, Xperia Z and Lumia 920 to be a bit brighter than the one of the GS4, and even more compared to the GS3, which is dimmer than its successor.
This lack of brightness also leads to worse visibility in outdoor conditions for the AMOLED screens. The Galaxy S4 isn't unusable, but it's perceptibly harder to read than the bright screens of the Apple iPhone 5 and HTC One, which lead the pack in this respect.
In addition, we would like to see manufacturers make their displays so that the user is able to set the brightness extremely low, in order to make it more comfortable to view in the dark. Some models are much better than others at this, with the iPhone 5 taking the lead. The Galaxy S4 is OK, it can get quite dark, but it would have been nice if it could go even further.
Most of the smartphones we've line up here treat us to some pretty good viewing angles, but there are some exceptions. First of all, we would like to point the Xperia Z out, as the device that probably has the worst viewing angles of all six. We still don't know why, but Sony's screens traditionally suffer from poor viewing angles, with contrast and brightness degrading quickly as we start tilting the handset.
Then come the AMOLED displays of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S III, which are quick to become bluish even when looked at a slight angle. Otherwise, they do well retaining relative contrast and brightness. However, the quality LCD screens of the iPhone 5 and One do equally well, and even manage to retain a more natural color balance. Unfortunately, the Nokia Lumia 920's LCD display is more similar to the Xperia Z in terms of viewing angles, rather than the iPhone 5 or One.
Resolution is the name of the game in 2013, as most high-end Android phone manufacturers are equipping their creations with 1080p screens that reach astronomical pixel densities of 400+ ppi. The HTC One leads the pack in that respect as it couples the 1080p resolution with a 4.7” screen, which makes for the incredible 468 ppi. The second places is shared by the Xperia Z and Galaxy S4, the 5” displays of which have a pixel density of 441 ppi. Third is the Lumia 920 with 332 ppi, and immediately after it comes the iPhone 5 with 326 ppi. Finally, we have the Galaxy S III with 306 ppi.
As you know, basically every display which has a pixel density of more than 300 ppi is very sharp, but hey, these 400+ ppi monsters we have today are really pushing the boundaries to the extreme. There's so much resolution that you can't even tell that the Galaxy S4 has a PenTile matrix pixel arrangement. You can examine the pixel arrangement of each display in the super-close-up images with the word “Classic.”
Super close-up gallery Fullscreen
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Super close-up gallery
1. Galaxy S4
2. iPhone 5
3. Xperia Z
5. Galaxy S III
6. Lumia 920
Our favorite screens in terms of colors are those of the Apple iPhone 5 and HTC One. Their advanced LCD displays output super-realistic, yet vibrant and lively colors that manage to please both the purist users and those who just want a breath-taking image. The Nokia Lumia 920 is also quite good, though it's a bit less vibrant. The Xperia Z isn't bad as well, though as we said, it's very easy to lose the liveliness in it just by viewing it at a very slight angle.
Samsung is still struggling to achieve a more true-to-life image with its AMOLED screens, which have always gravitated towards the colder side. That becomes evident with the appearance of special screen modes in the Galaxy S4 that aim at tuning the screen to a more natural state. We certainly appreciate the company's efforts as they are clearly in the right direction. Indeed, the Galaxy S4 is much better than its predecessor color-wise. When you compare the two, the GS III is noticeably more bluish. Still, there's still more room for improvement.
Just when we thought that LCD technology doesn't have anything more to offer, innovation has once again come to the rescue, allowing certain manufacturers to produce one of the most amazing screens we've ever seen. After all is said and done, it becomes evident that the quality LCD displays like those of the Apple iPhone 5 and HTC One are unsurpassed when it comes to overall image quality with their sharp, lively and realistic visuals.
However, Samsung is making big moves forward with each new major release. Its AMOLED technology has transformed from cold and pixelized to surprisingly authentic and artifact-free. The Galaxy S4's Super AMOLED screen is an improvement over its predecessor in every possible way, but this comparison showed us that there's still quite a bit of room for improvement. Still, the GS4's display is amazing the way it is right now, and proves that this relatively young technology has the potential to become something exceptional as time goes on.
1. ultimatebatman (Posts: 52; Member since: 04 Dec 2012)
I thought the Xperia Z was supposed to be the worst. From the images, It's on par with the iPhone and One, and better than the Lumia 920. This just proves that everyone bashes it for nothing.
5. cezarepc (Posts: 482; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)
The only "bad" thing I can say about the Xperia Z's screen is that blacks are a bit grey-ish.
59. harshithh (Posts: 12; Member since: 18 Feb 2013)
that problem have been solved !!!coz sony has released new colour colabration software for that!!
75. omar300 (Posts: 171; Member since: 24 Jun 2012)
i see people here are arguing within android realm, honestly this is awesome and exciting. people dont give a s**t about iphone anymore. as long we competition is between sony, htc or samsung its great cus that means its only advantage for all of android fans :)
82. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3873; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)
I thought that was only for the ZL, not the Z?
150. AbuSymbian (Posts: 5; Member since: 24 Dec 2012)
is there a video of showing the display with that new software ?
186. giri555 (Posts: 95; Member since: 15 Mar 2012)
when? you have to be rooted for that right? pls post a link?
129. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 762; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)
we already kknow from d start that lcd will actually deliver the best display with this kind of comparison//
still many people love the way amoled pops into their eyes :)
136. Dynamac (Posts: 20; Member since: 01 Dec 2012)
Exactly the case. The screens in this age is all about technology preference. I personally love the over saturated colours and that's why I would stay with Samsung, Amoled is a big differentiating factor vs the others. However at the same time many will want more natural and realistic reproduction and hence the One wins the day. You can't really say one is better than the other when comparing S4 and the One.
However as good as LCD is these days, they will always appear slightly washed out simply due to the fact that a backlight is required. Can't change that unless you go Amoled. If you ever try turning on a S3 or S4 in complete darkness....WOW!
154. Dynamac (Posts: 20; Member since: 01 Dec 2012)
Btw, has anyone noticed Samsung might have somehow solved the problem with white colour drawing more power in Amoleds?
There is a lot of white screens in S4's menus including the main menu. If not white, they are blue or other colours, but very little true black. Samsung had always used as much black as possible to minimise power usage by screen.
156. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)
GS4's SAMOLED screen uses a tilted Bayer Filter like arrangement.
153. thunderising (Posts: 225; Member since: 25 Nov 2011)
Use the upcoming Display Calibration software.
37. omar300 (Posts: 171; Member since: 24 Jun 2012)
I KNOW! colour reproduction and pixels would go to S4 for obvious reasons. But viewing angle on xperia z is better than any other phone in that line up.
i dont like the blue screen of galaxy s4. but we know that will never go away so we might as well embrace it. atleast its better than galaxy nexus.
40. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1044; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)
It's blacks are greyish AND it has bad viewing angles. Whether you personally care about viewing angles or not, it demonstrates how the screen just isn't of the same quality as the One and the iPhone.
64. Feanor (Posts: 292; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
I think that the Z is marginally worse overall than the One and the S4 but since these models were presented, its disadvantages are greatly exaggerated. I think that for everyone who likes its design, it's still a pretty good handset.
76. Feanor (Posts: 292; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
Haha, I wonder where all these thumbs-down came from... from Sony fans who didn't like that I find the One and the S4 better, or from S4 and One fans that they didn't like that I still find the Z good enough?...
127. rgxVOiD (Posts: 432; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)
Are you sure its red thumbs-down? Cause on the S4 it would be green as well
80. imran86 (Posts: 30; Member since: 14 Sep 2012)
Even if Samsung produces a 4K OLED mobile display, PA will still favor the Icrap. You have no shame PA.
93. TechBizJP08 (Posts: 494; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)
I agree. and to think who the supplier of the LCD. Your guess is as good as mine. :)
172. HDShatter (Posts: 1021; Member since: 17 Jan 2013)
PA: iphone finally gets 1080p screen in 2015. Android flagships featuring 2k screens with RGYB Oleds. The icrap would win in the reviews.
95. GTR722 (Posts: 222; Member since: 20 Oct 2012)
Samsung fanboys make a lot of noise...Z screen is fine.
104. downphoenix (Posts: 2266; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
PA is just biased. They said the Lumia had better viewing angles than Z for instance, the actual images couldn't be further from the truth.
128. Dimitru (Posts: 40; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)
yup Z viewing angles is better than Lumia...
168. ahhxd717 (Posts: 316; Member since: 08 Dec 2011)
If that's true, then idk why people are complaining about the Z's screen, since the Lumia has more than adequate viewing angles in actual use.
125. heyhi (Posts: 122; Member since: 19 Feb 2013)
1080p Super AMOLED display is what geeks' dreams are made of - GSMARENA.
"What you should take away from all this is that the final weak point of the Super AMOLED screens has been taken care of and the Galaxy S4 offers image quality like no other smartphone on the market. Its impressive contrast and almost perfect viewing angles make everything on the screen pop, regardless of your viewpoint.
The color saturation is beyond the reach of any LCD out there, which make even the dullest image appear remarkably vibrant. Still, if you are not a fan of the oversaturated look of AMOLEDs, Samsung gives you the option to tune down the saturation to more natural levels and enjoy the best of both worlds. There's a dedicated Adobe RGB setting that gets this done.
The brightness levels of the Samsung Galaxy S4 are about on par with the rest of the company's AMOLEDs, which is to say not very high. However, due to their low reflectivity, this doesn't affect outdoor performance. Keep in mind that enabling the auto tone setting in the screen option limits the maximum brightness to under 300 nits, so if that matters to you, you better keep it off."
2. tech2 (Posts: 1757; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)
I love GS4 but gotta hand this comparison over to The One.
Unless you like oversaturated colours. Personally, I dont !
9. tech2 (Posts: 1757; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)
PA, did you actually check the phones in day light are you are just saying the visibility of GS4 is not good inferring from brightness ? The reason I ask this is because gsmarena said its better than HTC One because of its less reflective screen.
'Where the One runs into a problem is sunlight legibility - it's good, but not great. It's comparable to that of a Sony Xperia Z and noticeably better than that of the HTC Butterfly. However, the Galaxy S4 screen is just less reflective, giving it better sunlight legibility even if the maximum brightness is lower' - GSMarena
17. hung2900 (Posts: 765; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
S4 and Note 2 are much brighter outdoor with automatic brightness. Samsung actually limits the maximum manual brightness for many reasons.
Maybe PhoneArena forgot to turn automatic brightness on.
33. nooraldeen (Posts: 48; Member since: 21 Oct 2012)
they dont limit anything in manual i dont know were u got ur information but i have a note2 when i use the automatic brightness and then turn it to full manual in bright sun nothing changes its the same .
43. hung2900 (Posts: 765; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
The OP made a small mod that makes the manual brightness match the automatic brightness
91. nooraldeen (Posts: 48; Member since: 21 Oct 2012)
sorry but my note2 is working well the max manual and the max auto r the same
109. hung2900 (Posts: 765; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
Oh if you're using a custom rom, the devs actually modified it already for you as well
138. nooraldeen (Posts: 48; Member since: 21 Oct 2012)
maybe hhhhh until now i havent get an update im still running on 4.1.1
108. gogowho (Posts: 37; Member since: 12 Mar 2013)
no sunlight comparison photo. I guess it is an assumption. If it is true, it'll be irresposible
72. zibbyzib2000 (Posts: 156; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
I just don't like the green tint on the Samsung Galaxy phones. I thought maybe it would be different on the 4 since it has a better screen but I guess not.
77. tech2 (Posts: 1757; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)
that tint is very apparent only when you zoom to great extent such as in this review. But normally you won't see that much difference IRL. Galaxy has better color saturation while other LCD phones have more accurate colours !
If you like gaming and watching videos Galaxy is recommended if you take lot of pictures and do web browsing LCD display phone is advisable :)
94. zibbyzib2000 (Posts: 156; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
It was really noticeable on the s2 I had when browsing pages with white backgrounds like phone arenas website
151. z00mflight (Posts: 3; Member since: 30 Mar 2013)
Seems like the blue or green tint can be removed in the Galaxy s4 settings now. Guess they ignored that in the review. Link:
107. SleepingOz (unregistered)
115. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 762; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)
i dont know whos saying d real deal haha :D but PA's comparison is not the standard on how you measure or evaluate a display :)
3. yazlikvillam (Posts: 13; Member since: 24 Apr 2012)
can you not be more technical like brightness level its like half baked rewiev
8. tech2 (Posts: 1757; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)
Check gsmarena for that:
HTC One: 647
One a side note GS4 has better contrast levels though !
4. Captain_Doug (Posts: 746; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)
I edited this, just me ranting about how amoled isn't as good. I'll spare you, I vote LCD.
48. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2992; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
I'll take the LCD too, thank you.
I don't know why but AMOLEDs gives me the 'blues'.
6. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
2 Htc One
3 Experia Z
5 L92 & S3
16. amansingal14 (Posts: 283; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)
true troll, ain't you
Rankings (after compiling the results as 6p to winner, 5 to runner-up, 4 to sec. runner-up)
1. HTC One (24 points)
2. iPhone 5 (20 points)
3. Nokia Lumia 920 & Xperia Z (17 points)
4. Samsung Galaxy S4 (16 points)
5. Samsung Galaxy S3 (11 points)
PS - I have reduced S4 by one point and all phones after it as S4 lacks RGB matrix
26. Captain_Doug (Posts: 746; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)
I don't understand the lack of RGB matrix. They aren't even coming close. The funny thing is, they can make an Amoled Plus display, they have. Yet they don't use it in their flagship... Just seems ludicrous.
44. McLTE (Posts: 637; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)
Why do you care so much about an RGB matrix on a 5" display packing 1080p resolution?
There is NO way.. I repeate NO way you can tell ANY difference between pentile and RGB at even closer than reasonable viewing distances.
My Note2 with it's 5.5" and 720p resolution looks great! Yes, I can notice a TINY, ever so tiny difference if I go look at the 1080p phones.. but that's only when I am pixel peeping.
Yes, this review shows that the RGB is slightly better than the pentile still.. but you will never ever notice the difference.
45. Captain_Doug (Posts: 746; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)
But that's just it, it's not really 720/1080P. The subpixels aren't there. I'd just feel cheated...
58. Commentator (Posts: 2292; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
McLTE, the issue isn't with resolution or pixel density. Of course nobody will be able to tell it's PenTile at 1080p. The issue is with color-reproduction. The Galaxy S II's SAMOLED+ display has better color reproduction than the SII/IV, especially when the color white is displayed.
116. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 762; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)