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Screen comparison: Samsung Galaxy S III vs the fierce competition

Posted: , posted by Ray S.

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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).

Close-up photos of the seven displays (100% crop)

Close-up photos of the seven displays (100% crop)

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!

The seven displays viewed at a 90-degree angle. Note that each display has been photographed individually

The seven displays viewed at a 90-degree angle. Note that each display has been photographed individually

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!

The seven displays viewed at an angle from below. Again, each display has been photographed individually

The seven displays viewed at an angle from below. Again, each display has been photographed individually

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?!


Screen comparison: Samsung Galaxy S III vs the fierce competition
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.

  • Options

posted on 22 May 2012, 09:42 21

1. blinkdagger (Posts: 81; Member since: 04 May 2012)

Nokia's cbd amoled also very good. It's worth included.

posted on 22 May 2012, 09:49 14

4. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)

I agree! Can't wait for the HD CB Displays.

posted on 22 May 2012, 10:59 4

23. ph00ny (Posts: 1555; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Aren't those samsung provided AMOLED screens with some sort of polarizer on top of it?

posted on 22 May 2012, 11:40 6

29. Penny (Posts: 1672; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)

Not sure if they are provided by Samsung, but yeah they are AMOLED screens with Nokia's polarizing filter embedded.

posted on 22 May 2012, 14:10 4

37. torr310 (Posts: 1122; Member since: 27 Oct 2011)

I read some reports saying Nokia's ClearBlack Display is more visible than Samsung's Super AMOLED. It should be included in this comparison.

posted on 22 May 2012, 22:38 4

56. shadez10 (Posts: 427; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)

true!.. Nokia's ClearBlack Displays are the best in outdoor visibility...

posted on 23 May 2012, 01:57

61. Sessanta (Posts: 6; Member since: 11 Oct 2011)

Worth included? With WVGA resolution, it'll be quickly surpassed by these phones..

No, it's not in the same class of the competition..

posted on 23 May 2012, 04:35 2

64. blinkdagger (Posts: 81; Member since: 04 May 2012)

pardon, can't u see another wvga in there? let me point it to u. the one between s3 and nexus. cheers

posted on 22 May 2012, 09:46 18

2. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)

You stated that HD displays don't matter. You stated that pixel density is what that matters. I would not certainly enjoy watching videos on a 3.5" display with 400+ ppi. I'd rather watch it on a big screen even with 150ppi.

I'm still disappointed with pentile though... but I could say from those shots that the blacks, contrast and saturation are better.

I'd take an AMOLED over an LCD display anytime, even if it's clearblack 480x800 versus the iPhone's and LG's. --- except that gorgeous Super LCD2.

posted on 22 May 2012, 09:52 7

5. andro. (Posts: 1999; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)

The one x screen really is a class screen but the colours to seem a little weak in comparison to other screens side by side on a daily basis,what small defects seen on pentile screens under microscope are easily outweighed by the incredible contrasts of super amoled

posted on 22 May 2012, 09:49 3

3. tward291 (Posts: 559; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)

should have compared the nokia 900 to them as well but very informative. just curious how it would have stacked up against them in the outside test

posted on 22 May 2012, 09:54 6

6. andro. (Posts: 1999; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)

Perhaps the xperia s should have been included here seeing as it has a higher ppi than any of the phones mentioned

posted on 22 May 2012, 09:55 14

7. blinkdagger (Posts: 81; Member since: 04 May 2012)

btw, iphone is dwarf in there side by side with the beasts

posted on 23 May 2012, 05:01

66. Bronx (Posts: 2; Member since: 22 May 2012)

Hahaha. Exactly what I was thinking! I mean I can't move on to the detailed discussion because there's a pitiful dwarf in the row of beasts!

Seriously, the good that comes with the retina tech of iphone just goes off the window once you get used to looking at beasts' size. When you look back at the 3.5" of iphone it just doesnt feel the same anymore.. you feel limited or boxed or something.

That's what happened to me when I got my SII after the orginal wave. I was planning to stick with the 2 phones but after just a few days, the wave screen size doesnt feel enough anymore despite its vivid screen esp at that time... it might just be me.. but yeah...

posted on 24 May 2012, 06:25

73. Suts_97 (Posts: 124; Member since: 05 May 2012)

it's a generation behind

posted on 22 May 2012, 10:01 5

8. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)

Even though LCD's are brighter, colors of LCD display looks washed out under bright sunlight, whereas it doesn't affect AMOLEDs so much. Also AMOLED can display sharper image with high level of detail compared to LCD despite have lower pixel density or having pentile arrangement.

posted on 22 May 2012, 10:19

15. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)

http://mobile-review.com/review/samsung-galaxy-s3- fl-en.shtml#4

Some pics of the phones side by side.

posted on 22 May 2012, 10:03 4

9. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)

what is up with all the nokia comments being thumbed down? the CB displays of Nokia are great!

posted on 22 May 2012, 10:03

10. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1238; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)

Doesn't this phone just have the same screen as the nexus plus .15 inches?
Lame, One X wins.

posted on 22 May 2012, 10:05 12

11. rd_nest (Posts: 1656; Member since: 06 Jun 2010)

Strange, but outdoor visibility test by GSMarena clearly shows SGS3 is the best.


posted on 22 May 2012, 10:06 2

12. liqwidzero (Posts: 4; Member since: 20 Jul 2011)

Out of all the screens I've seen, I will maintain that the HTC Rezound still has the best looking display.

posted on 22 May 2012, 10:12 1

13. strikercho (banned) (Posts: 156; Member since: 20 Mar 2012)

4S still shows the best colors and image. Phonearena, please return the money to HTC and be impartial, would you?

posted on 22 May 2012, 10:15 3

14. Jaspzx (Posts: 3; Member since: 07 May 2012)

Wheres the Xperia P?

posted on 22 May 2012, 14:08 3

36. Non_Sequitur (Posts: 1111; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)

Yeah. As soon as I read "only ppi matters," I knew Ray S. wrote the article backing up his beloved iPhone.

posted on 22 May 2012, 10:22 8

16. rg987 (Posts: 130; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)

fuc**r did not include the SONY XPERIA S in such a battle, even though it has highest ppi (342 ppi) and it has a hd display too......

this idiot included SGS2 which has wvga res screen but didn't include XPERIA P which has RGBW pixel matrix and have a qhd res too.............RAY S. is a super duper idiot

sony put on very gud displays on their phones......we all know how beautiful screens do XPERIA S and XPERIA ARC and XPERIA P has

posted on 22 May 2012, 11:38 1

28. hung2900 (Posts: 965; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)

How beautiful is it with >130 degree viewing angle?

posted on 22 May 2012, 13:22 3

34. rg987 (Posts: 130; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)

Hey u pussy........u see ur phone from 180 degree???.....we see our phones from the angle of 90 degree..........and color clarity to us till the angle of 130 degrees is sufficient to us

posted on 22 May 2012, 13:54

35. Tjey007 (Posts: 86; Member since: 22 May 2012)

i dont know but everybody seems to understimate xperia S..i saw everywhere...in phonedog official ranking they didn even included it in the list so that people can vote...i dont know why!!! if there was no SGS3 coming then i would definitely go for Xperia s..its overall very good.

posted on 22 May 2012, 17:58

44. leftheodo (Posts: 106; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)

Cause it's clearly an iferior phone. The Snapdragon S3 is the worst dual core chip of 2011 and Sony is using it on it's 2012 flagship. You've got your answer! Btw I own a HTC Sensation that comes with that chip so this is not a biased comment.

posted on 22 May 2012, 19:02

48. Tjey007 (Posts: 86; Member since: 22 May 2012)

i know the processor is not up to date..but its not that bad either. you cant compare things all the time. it has superb build quality and also a screen with high ppi. excelent camera. because of the less powerfull processor you cant throw him out of the league. battery is not excelent but not bad either. 32gb is enough i guess...getting ICS soon..overall its very good. i think its underrated...and what about htc one s? its getting everybodys attention and hitting top of the chart...then why not xperia s?? bcz of a less powerfull processor which is hardly noticable at real life.

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