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

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.


Which phone has the best display for outdoor use?

Nexus 5
3.53%
Samsung Galaxy S4
2.54%
HTC One M7
1.18%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
15.63%
Apple iPhone 5s
8.87%
Samsung Galaxy S5
52.72%
HTC One M8
8.99%
Sony Xperia Z1
6.54%

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.


Which phone has the better display for outdoor use?

Apple iPhone 5s
10.19%
Samsung Galaxy S5
78.35%
HTC One M8
11.46%

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.

Which display do you prefer for outdoor use?

Samsung Galaxy S5
81.59%
HTC One M8
18.41%

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150 Comments

1. FriendsOfSamsung unregistered

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

5. Duketytz

Posts: 534; Member since: Nov 28, 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?

6. FriendsOfSamsung unregistered

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

8. CanYouSeeTheLight

Posts: 1122; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

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

65. Cicero

Posts: 1117; Member since: Jan 22, 2014

The 3%?

140. TheGenius

Posts: 339; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

Take my like.!!

18. Duketytz

Posts: 534; Member since: Nov 28, 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.

27. hiwilms

Posts: 2; Member since: May 02, 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.

141. TheGenius

Posts: 339; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

Go home. U drunk

33. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Scare to put in competition.

111. Imaxxacre

Posts: 75; Member since: Aug 23, 2009

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

145. y2kandroid

Posts: 3; Member since: May 09, 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.

9. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 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 !

13. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 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

24. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 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.

37. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 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.

41. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

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

43. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

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

52. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

Are you have nothing credible to reply???

53. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

What does that mean?

67. tedkord

Posts: 17312; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

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

71. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 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.

42. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 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).

44. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 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.

55. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 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...

59. refillable

Posts: 1071; Member since: Mar 10, 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.

60. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 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.

63. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 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....

64. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

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

79. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

And there is nothing like bias in their opinion..

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