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 a cold 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.



3. Foreign Guy Who Can't Get Amer unregistered

*Foreign Guy Who Can't Get American Slang Right*

28. iPhone 4 unregistered

I have an iPhone 4 & I can say that the testing done on this site favors my phone. From what I saw from the tests conducted the Super AMOLED + won in color gamut. I wish my iPhone 4 had the infinite grays of the Super AMOLED +. Yes my iPhone 4 has the best resolution, but I want to see better colors for my backgrounds & for my games with the sweet blacks the Super AMOLED + has. Plus I really want a bigger screen also. 4.3 inches is so much nicer to see a movie & to play games on. I think the Galaxy S II is going to be my phone when it comes out!

29. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Well it looks like iPhone 4 sees the light. No but all kidding aside, the Super AMOLED + looks like a slick screen. I agree with you iPhone 4 that the color gamut should have gone to the Super AMOLED +, with it's insane contrast ratio & infinite grays it makes the color gamut only better. You are also right in screen size, playing games on a 4.3 inch screen makes a huge difference compared to the iPhone 4. The real-estate makes big difference in the movie watching & the game playing. I wonder how the qHD screen on the HTC Evo 3D with its higher resolution will fare against these big boys?

4. ecml

Posts: 129; Member since: Mar 23, 2010

I am sure the Samsung Galaxy S II should have won for Color gamut....

5. Johnabis

Posts: 66; Member since: Feb 17, 2011

wait which phone has the super LCD in the comparison above? thats the technology the evo3d uses I think right? i guess super LCD comes in last place to the 3 other displays?

6. herbie19999 unregistered

Samsung totally winss

7. NeXoS

Posts: 292; Member since: May 03, 2011

Wow, this site is run by total Apple fan boys! It is scientifically impossible for the IPS display to have a wider color gamut than the SAMOLED+ display. You said it yourselves, the SAMOLED+ has infinite shades of gray, which directly correlates to a display's color gamut. IPS was "slightly" brighter than the SAMOLED+? Looks like you guys are more than slightly biased towards the iPhone 4. The only valid category the iPhone 4 should win is the PPI category. Will you guys please put your iPhones down and try to write an unbiased, Apple Fan Boy laced article??? This is the reason why I stopped reading Engadget.

8. MalakiMills

Posts: 257; Member since: Jun 15, 2010

I agree, I mean look at the wins, each technology has 2 wins (except for the LG optimus 2x hehe) but the end it by saying "it's the IPS-LCD that truly wins here". Just doesn't make that much sense.

11. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

welll maybe some things have more weight then others... the ppi of the iphone is extremely important... without a high res the screen doesnt look nice no matter what... honestly if apple can make such a high ppi screen, why cant lg or samsung? samsung even makes the darn screens!

19. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

My Droid X, which arguably doesn't have as high resolution, still looks very nice. I'll take it over the iPhone 4 any day.

21. Sic_lusifer unregistered

sorry man but fyi Apple didnt "make such a high ppi screen" they just bought them !!

24. Iphonearena unregistered

In case you haven't noticed yet the "retina" display was developed by LG and not by Apple...

33. jcoberg10

Posts: 112; Member since: Oct 30, 2009

PPI is also, variable based on screen size. so the phone with the smallest screen would have the highest PPI.

64. dharkness

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 12, 2011

You are wrong PPI = pixels per inch. that is the density of the pixels on the screen. The density of pixels does not go down if you make the screen larger.

65. Yerdeniz

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 13, 2011

No, PPI totally depends on the size of a screen. (E.g Galaxy S II 4.27'' 480x800 resolution, ≈220 ppi. Samsung Wave 3.3'' 480x800 resolution, ≈283 ppi.)

39. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

resolution is important lucas, but your eye cant really tell the difference between super amoled+'s resolution and the iphone's resolution at normal viewing distances. If the iphone's screen were enlarged, its ppi count goes down and it becomes even more of a tie. so if your eye cant really tell the difference besides maybe some of the most minor artifacts ever... how is the "retina" display even relevant other than fanboys screaming about the highest PPI?? Ill take better color, higher brightness, thinner and lighter screens, gorilla glass, better battery use, better viewing angles, and everything else the SA+ offers over the IPS, and lose that marginally better resolution that i cant really notice anyways.

42. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

retina is just a word for hight res screen on a certain size and no one is doing it maybe because apple may sue them, just saying...

47. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

apple doesnt own the "retina" tech.. LG does. Apple cant sue anyone over it. If it was THAT important to be over 300ppi, other companies would be doing it already. as an article i read last week said, the difference between the SA+ resolution and the iphone4's resolution is about 5% extra clarity to the eye. Its not that big of a difference unless you stick your face on the screen.

49. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

they are suing over the use of a green call icon and other stuff..... at this point nothings surprises me. people talk about retina as if it where some great discovery, but it is what it is, a hight res, there is nothing more than that unlike SAMOLED, and other tech that works hard on improving certain aspect (power saving and others)

23. Iphonearena unregistered

I totally agree with you Nexos and sadly it’s no secret that this site is run by biased Iphone fanatics. It has been proven several times by independent sources that the Super Amoled displays have a much wider range of color gamut than the Iphone’s IPS-LCD display. Here are the figures (google them if you don’t believe me, you’ll find them on several websites): Color gamut Iphone 4: 64 % Color gamut Super Amoled Displays: ~140 % As you can see for yourself, the Super Amoled displays boast a much wider range of color gamut than the Iphone 4. Sure, some people might perceive the colors of the Super Amoled displayed as being over-saturated but you can easily adjust that by downloading software from the android market that allows you to fine-tune your display settings accordingly (if you wish to do so). It’s easy to draw a conclusion from this “comparison”: If Iphonearena had done a fair review it would have awarded the color gamut category to the Galaxy S II and the SII would have been the overall winner but considering how biased Iphonarena is there’s more chance of hell freezing over than Iphonearena admitting that the SII is actually a better device than the Iphone 4… Heck, this site doesn't even list its real street/office address on their website (just check their "about us", "contact us", terms or privacy site, you won't find their address anywhere!) because phonearena's office is probably located in Cupertino...

34. NeXoS

Posts: 292; Member since: May 03, 2011

Hahaha, good one! I wouldn't doubt that. Apple does a lot of shady things. Well, I hope someone comes up with a tech blog site that isn't secretly sponsored by Apple.

40. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Yeah good luck! lol Apple has moles in all the tech blog websites.,,, and so on. Apple is like the KGB, an operative is always on the mission! The iSheep mission, to brainwash as many as they can & report to Jobs himself! lol

62. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

very ture

26. Dark4o90

Posts: 205; Member since: Feb 20, 2011

will see next gen amoled displays from samsung

12. Jeromeo

Posts: 135; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

Oh, PhoneArena, I remember why I liked you... On a side note, I think the color gamut shoulda gone to the GalaxySII and the wide angle shoulda gone to the Black.

13. winsaki234

Posts: 63; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

PhoneArena has the Apple fan admin....

30. phbelov

Posts: 124; Member since: Mar 25, 2011

All displays have won 2 times (except for the IPS LCD on the LG Optimus 2X). Or guys, you all write that iPhone is so bad device because you just can't buy it because it's very expensive for you? I think that the iPhone 4 is a great device. Android phones are great as well.

36. NeXoS

Posts: 292; Member since: May 03, 2011

It's very expensive? The Samsung Galaxy S II will probably cost the same if not MORE than the iPhone 4 when it's released. Are there still retards that think owning an iPhone 4 is a "financial status symbol"? All it really is, is a symbol of technological stupidity. People who are dumb at technology buy the iPhone and it's great for those people. But that group is shrinking. More people around the world are becoming more tech savvy and want more than just a "dumb" smart phone that tells you what you can or cannot do. They want a smart smart phone that will do whatever you want it to!

43. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

believe me there are guys here that believe that, android is cheap iPhone... you really want to find a wall to smack them

46. rayjones09

Posts: 149; Member since: Dec 16, 2010

Agreed. iPhone is a great device and Android has some great devices. Can't we all just get along?

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