NOVA Display vs Super AMOLED Plus vs Retina Display vs IPS LCD

NOVA Display vs Super AMOLED Plus vs Retina Display vs IPS LCD
The LG Optimus Black has finally arrived in its final version and it brings an all-new display technology dubbed NOVA display for its brightness and deep blacks. First thing we did? We put it alongside three smartphone heavyweights for an ultimate screen showdown. The Optimus Black faced the Samsung Galaxy S II, the Apple iPhone 4 and the LG Optimus 2X.

For our tests we used studio setup identical to the one we used when we first got the Samsung Galaxy S II: with diffused lighting on both sides with the same color temperature as daylight, for reference purposes, and then we turned the light off for shots in complete darkness. For the camera white balance adjustment, we used three matte patches on cardboard: 90% white, 18% grey, and 1% black (velvet).


The NOVA display boasts an incredible brightness. The luminosity measures at 700 nits (the equivalent of 700 candelas per square meter if you wish), far more than the 500 nits on the similar IPS-LCD on the iPhone 4 and noticeably brighter than the Samsung Galaxy S II and its Super AMOLED Plus. Performance on paper aside, our real-world experience with the screens proved that the NOVA display on the Optimus Black is indeed shining brightest.

Winner: NOVA Display


Ever since AMOLED screens got introduced, our very understanding of what great contrast on a mobile display is has been totally redefined. No LCD display can boast the almost infinite contrast levels of AMOLED screens, and we're glad to see this great performance live on with Samsung's latest Super AMOLED Plus technology, found on the Galaxy S II. Undoubtedly, handsets which rely on the advanced IPS-LCD technology, like the iPhone 4, have come a long way to having a very juicy picture on the whole, but still, if we have to pick one screen that is best out there when it comes to high, punchy contrast, it will surely be the Super AMOLED Plus one on the Galaxy S II.

Winner: Super AMOLED Plus

Outdoor Visibility

Actually, LG goes on to claim that 700 nits is the exact threshold for perfect outdoor visibility, allowing the human eye to easily make out pictures even in direct sunlight. Overcast skies didn't allow us to test the screen under the sun, but we can confirm that we had no trouble whatsoever with it in cloudy weather. Comparatively, it measures a bit better than the iPhone 4,  which in turn is a tad bit brighter than the Galaxy S II with its extremely low 4% screen reflectance that is as important outside as brightness.

Winner: NOVA Display

Text readability

In terms of text readability, the resolution of the screen makes a huge difference and the iPhone 4 easily won the first place here. The NOVA display does well, but there is still some noticeable pixelization, just as on the Super AMOLED Plus-wielding Samsung Galaxy S II, which is still a significant improvement from its predecessor in the Galaxy S.

Winner: IPS-LCD “Retina Display” on iPhone 4

Color gamut

You might have also wondered about the origin of the Black part of the LG Optimus Black name. And again it's the deep blacks, which consume zero watts that are the likely justification. But it's not only the blacks – the whites are also clear and colors are soft. The difference is striking when put alongside a Super AMOLED Plus screen, where acold blueish hue is noticeable, and despite being punchy, colors on a Super AMOLED Plus display look comparatively exaggerated, and covering way more than the standard color gamut. Ultimately, we'd go for the more balanced looking colors on the iPhone, despite it reproducing 64% of the standard color gamut, whereas the Optimus Black produces slightly warmer colors, with a perceptible yellowish tone to the white.

Winner: IPS-LCD on iPhone 4

Wide-angle view

Wide-angle visibility is top-notch on the Galaxy S II with almost no change in color and contrast. The LG Optimus Black, when viewed from extreme angles, has a slight purplish shade, also noticeable (in a lesser degree on the iPhone 4). Although the Galaxy S II with its Super AMOLED Plus display does not perform convincingly at the most extreme angles (at which you'll probably never look your phone), it's the best when it comes to angles up to 140 degrees.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S II

Finally, the NOVA screen technology is battery-savvy, working in concert with the energy effective TI OMAP chipset to deliver excellent battery life. But in a pure screen fight, it wins only in the brightness department. When it comes to screen legibility and resolution, it's the high-resolution IPS-LCD, dubbed Retina Display, that truly wins here – a technology used in professional monitors, yielding the most accurate results. If you value balance and resolution first, you'd appreciate what the iPhone 4 has to offer; the LG Optimus Black being a runner-up with a slight yellowish hue. If you value great contrast and high saturation for extremely punchy images, Super AMOLED Plus on the Galaxy S II is the way to go.

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