Screen comparison: Samsung Galaxy S III vs the fierce competition

Screen comparison: Samsung Galaxy S III vs the fierce competition
The screen is one of the most important assets of any smartphone. It's a window to so much stuff – entertainment, information, communication... It's pretty much the main feature of a mobile device. That's why when we're buying a high-end phone, we expect it to have a killer screen.

Samsung has been among the biggest innovators in screen technology lately, as it produces quite a big part of the panels for the industry, and it has also played a major part in establishing the AMOLED technology, which is enjoyed by a lot of users worldwide, regardless of its current drawbacks. We've specifically mentioned Samsung, because it's the manufacturer of the Galaxy S III screen – the screen that we'll be examining here.

We've given our opinion on the Galaxy S III's HD Super AMOLED display many times, when we've compared the handset to its rivals, but we felt that it's a topic that deserves a bit more attention. Let's see how it stacks up against the cream of the crop out there, in this epic screen comparison!

Outdoor visibility

All in all, the team of the LCDs had the upper hand in the visibility category. Even though the AMOLED technology is constantly being worked on, it still can't achieve that level of luminance that's observed with the good ole LCD. The best handset in this test proved to be the HTC One X, as its S-LCD2 managed to outshine its competitors both indoors and outdoors. Hot on its tracks comes the IPS-LCD of the iPhone 4S, followed by the Optimus LTE and Samsung Galaxy S III. Apparently, Samsung has done some improvements in the HD Super AMOLED panel of the GS III, as it looks a tad bit brighter compared to the rest of the AMOLED pack. However, our test comes to show that there's still considerable room for improvement.


In this age of HD resolution screens, it seems hard to find anything that's sub-300 ppi. Still, we believe our analysis in this category will be interesting, having in mind that the displays that we're looking at use different technologies, and we've also included some non-HD contestants as well (iPhone 4S and Galaxy S II).

To tell you the truth, it's not really important if a screen is HD or not. What counts there is pixel density, as it measures just that – how dense a screen is, or how detailed it is. For those who have missed all the pixel density talk lately, we'll clarify that it's measured in ppi, or pixels-per-inch.

The Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Nexus, One X, iPhone 4S and Optimus LTE all have screens with a pixel density of above 300 ppi, which is very high. That basically means that all of them are very, very sharp and good looking. The best of the best here are the iPhone 4S and Optimus LTE, which both have a ppi rate of 326. The One X and Galaxy Nexus aren't too far behind with 315 and 314 ppi, respectively, but it should be noted here that the screen of the Nexus uses a PenTile matrix, which means it kind of doesn't sport the “full” 314 ppi. In short, it looks a bit more pixelized compared so RGB matrix screens of similar size and resolution.

The Galaxy S III's HD Super AMOLED PenTile screen sports a pixel density of 306 ppi, which is quite good. It's very hard to notice individual pixels, but it's possible if you look really closely, mostly due to the PenTile pixel arrangement.

Last are the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note, which also look quite good, but can't really compare. The reason for this is in the Galaxy S II's WVGA resolution, and in the Galaxy Note's giant 5.3” display.

Color reproduction

Color reproduction is an area where modern LCDs are quite strong, as they are usually able to come closer to having true-to-life colors. Meanwhile, AMOLEDs are often more impressive here, as they may not be very realistic, but are incredibly vivid and saturated.

The above statements are true for pretty much every single screen that we've picked here. From the LCDs, best performing are the HTC One X and iPhone 4S. From the AMOLEDs, we're into the somewhat warmer colors (truer-to-life) of the Galaxy Nexus. However, the Galaxy S III is quite flexible, as it allows you to tweak its color profile through the settings. You can make it look a bit warmer using the “Movie” preset, or not as saturated, using the “Natural” setting. All in all, you can't achieve a very accurate image, but the GS III's display sure is striking!

Viewing angles

In contrast to what we saw in “Color reproduction”, AMOLED-based screens tend to rule the viewing angles field. AMOLED screens have this property of retaining their visibility even at extreme angles, although this is often at the cost of color accuracy. While contemporary LCDs keep their colors, but usually suffer great contrast and brightness losses when tilted at an angle. So, after this sweet little introduction, let's see what we really have on our hands this time, and more importantly, how does the Samsung Galaxy S III position itself among its competitors!

Well, it's not surprising to us that the GS III, Galaxy Nexus, Note and S II raise themselves above the others in this category. As we said, that doesn't mean that they have perfect viewing angles, but examining some color alterations for us is definitely better than having a significantly darker image. Still, the HTC One X does come pretty close to the level of the AMOLEDs thanks to its advanced S-LCD 2 tech.

But hey, angles-shmangles, at the end of the day, we're all looking at out phones directly, right?!


Acknowledging the fact that everyone has their own personal preferences, we'd simply like to point out  the good and the bad about the Galaxy S III's screen, and let users decide for themselves if it works for them or not.

First of all, although it can't reach the same level of excellence found with the LCD screens, it still shines pretty brightly, being even a tad better compared to the rest of its AMOLED brethren.

In terms of details and clarity, it isn't as good as the dense RGB screens (with 300 ppi and more), due to its PenTile matrix and large 4.8” diagonal, but we concluded that it's still very, very good. It is an HD screen, after all, and PenTile or not, it does look incredibly fine.

Next up, we saw that, typically for an AMOLED screen, the colors of the Galaxy S III are on the colder side, but as vivid and eye-catching as ever. Thankfully, Samsung has wisely included the option to alter the display's looks by using different “screen modes”. With these, you can make the GS III not as saturated, or a bit warmer, both of which will take it a step closer to reality. Though, if you're into the default oversaturated experience, we see absolutely no problem with that, as it does look quite impressive.

As far as viewing angles go, the GS III is as good as every other AMOLED out there, though it quickly loses the little warmth its colors have.

To us, the best phone display out there remains the one of the HTC One X. It has natural, yet saturated colors, as well as a fantastic brightness output. Then it all comes down to your own taste. Would you get something that's unnatural but still downright beautiful, or would you stick to a more balanced image which keeps things real? In any case, you can rest assured that the Galaxy S III has one helluva good screen, worth every penny.



72. TMach unregistered

The Xperia S is, I am guessing, the most popular Sony phone for quite a while and should be the beginning of Sony making some kind of impression in the market. Well, enough people are posting about the Xperia S to suggest sales are perhaps not as bad as one might assume. That apart, the issue is not about sales but about the quality of the product, and in this case, the screen! Regardless of what your opinion is of Sony's past errors, the screen and end product from the Arc to date have been quality! Arguably, the best screen on a smartphone today is probably a straight fight between the One X and Xperia S!

67. kamil

Posts: 118; Member since: Feb 07, 2012

wtf why is there no Sony M.B.E. devices included,the xperia s has the highest ppi an its obviously better than AMOLED.I want Sony smartphone display to be in this comparison as well. Phone Arena you better hear me out.

71. Kaminori

Posts: 1; Member since: May 23, 2012

its not hard to guess why they didn't put Xperia S on the list, they dont even have sony on their main brand list! just signed up to tell this.....better change the site name to iphonesungarena or antisonyarena :)

60. sharafat

Posts: 3; Member since: May 21, 2012

phonerena ,i think ur so much stupid and surely paid .why you not include the xperia s,and promotind the so much inferior amoled display,which are far behind the always ignore sony.only sony knows what is the picture quality,they have the history,they are the founder of trinitron,oled type revolutionry side by side arc and iphone,when bravia in action then you will see the diffrence,i will not talk about amoled,because they are totally out of standered.

52. scnix

Posts: 41; Member since: Jul 01, 2010

Why didn;t they compare it with Sony Xperia S as well?

57. dmn666

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Because they ran out of space after including three similar pentile garbages.

51. hybrid06339

Posts: 23; Member since: May 16, 2012

Wonder what a comparison after 1 and 2 years would show since AMOLED degrades with usage.

46. choybrwn22

Posts: 10; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

one ? isnt samsung the creators of the s-lcd2 screen used in the one x?

50. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

no it is LG

68. choybrwn22

Posts: 10; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

since when lg makes s-lcd 2 when it was a joint venture between samsung and sony with sam sung buying out the rest of sony's shares i only asked tht ques cause everyone was hyping up the screen of the one x n i kno its supplied by samsung jus like the screens in the new ipad is also by samsung...jus lov when these company's promote an adertise samsung produts hehe jus shows hw gr8 samsung is when it comes to screen tech:)

69. dmn666

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

It's actually made by LG and few other companies - NOT by Samsung. You're mixing up stuff. SLCD was a joint venture. And SLCD2 is a generation of displays made by several companies. HOX display was NOT made by samsung. Don't spread BS that has no proof. HOX display is the best one of this bunch and it's NOT made by Samsung .

45. aoikemono27

Posts: 177; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

This is way too empirical. GSMArena says the screen isn't that bright compared to other AMOLEDs, but at least they actually measure it. PhoneArena "thinks" it's brighter based on random observation. Who should I trust?

43. Saamic

Posts: 119; Member since: Feb 20, 2012

Why did they zoom in on the One X's display...?

42. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

to all the experia fans. you notice something that all these phones have in common that the xperia does not ? sales. no one is buying the Xperia. nice screen or not, its badly making a dent in sales.

47. blinkdagger

Posts: 81; Member since: May 04, 2012

ouch. a bitter truth. can't agree more

53. dmn666

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Says the most ignorant fanboy. This fools thinks Samsung 'makes' Ax for Apple - LMFAO. Never thought ignorance could be this pathetic. He also made up stuff saying One X display was made by s**tsung - an utter BS. Who gives a crap about sales - we're having a display comparison here. Xperia S display craps over any pentile garbage shown here in terms of clarity and color reproduction.Oh wait those are pentile but you can't see it and it lasts longer. How lame! Now I don't blame apple for saying ' you're holding it wrong'. Jeez, some people just make up stuff to fill their insecure fanboy worlds. Selling phones for a 2nd-tier carrier like T-mobile won't give you much idea about sales anyway.

65. blinkdagger

Posts: 81; Member since: May 04, 2012

told ya it's a bitter truth. xperia s is underrated in some part of the world. sony need to work harder in marketing, we both know xperia s is one of the best

62. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

they don't make sales in the U.S. and since this is an U.S. site, xperia fans should connect the dots. in the rest of the world, they make about 6 million per quarter - better than moto droids or nokia lumias. anyway i agree that xperia s is not a big hit but in europe it is a significant name on the market

70. dmn666

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

I don't think it's a US site. They cover all European/Asian phones and reviewers are from all over the world. That's why Xperia S should have been included.

41. TMach unregistered

I am not sure you should be doing this kind of test without the Xperia S with its gorgeous display. No credibility to this article the Xperia S screen, has the highest pixel density and the best screen until the One x came along. As much as I love my One x, the screen on thge Xperia X would get my vote.......342ppi

40. anshul0000 unregistered

they are missng xperia has 342ppi....

39. medicci37

Posts: 1361; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

Still, Samsung should gave used a rgb amoled or a lcd screen like the one x. My nexus has the same screen with higher ppi. & the black (which is supposed to look better on amoled) truly sucks. I have always used solid black as my wallpaper. But you can see alot of white goin thru the black when the lighting is dim (looks f*cKin awful).When watching a movie it is even worse. With the sglll having a bigger screen, & pentile display, the sglll should have the same res as the Note. If you have decent vision, you will definitely notice pixelation. Between the screen & ram, it's not much of a upgrade from my 2011 Nexus. On a Un related topic, turns out that article about Pakistani women using cellphones was BS. That's why PA pulled the article. So I guess all the Pakistanis who were said so were right.PA should have printed a retraction, or start checking facts before printing something.

33. ChiX017

Posts: 308; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

WHY NO LUMIA 900??!!

58. shadez10

Posts: 427; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

because all handsets featured will get blown away by lumia... xD

32. dblue45

Posts: 77; Member since: Aug 26, 2009

Love my HTC One X, for once Phonearena actually makes me feel proud for buying it! :P


Posts: 100; Member since: Nov 30, 2011

outdoor visability on LED is extremely better than LCD and viewing angels are best on IPS you got it all wrong id take my nexus screen over lcd any day black on lcd looks horrible but on led just pops out any color around it and screams premium.

49. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

okay fanyboy

30. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

why is all the AMOLED screen has a blueish or yellowish haze on the screen.

54. dmn666

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Cause they are all garbage. Black level is the only thing going for them. Heck they are nasty pentile too! I love how those amoleds crap out on battery life when it comes to browsing - a major use of smartphones.

27. Suts_97

Posts: 130; Member since: May 05, 2012

Anyway, its not about which one is better, it comes down to your preference.

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