Super AMOLED Plus vs Super AMOLED: to the PenTile matrix and back

Super AMOLED Plus vs Super AMOLED: to the PenTile matrix and back
With the second generation of the Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Galaxy S II, the company introduced the next version of its screen technology, too. The 4.3" Super AMOLED Plus display is supposedly brighter, 18% more energy-efficient and comes in a thinner package than its predecessor.

What's more, Samsung gave up on the PenTile matrix arrangement that made some observers note that the Super AMOLED display in use with the original Galaxy S, rings in 392x653 pixels of actual versus the 480x800 pixels of claimed perceived resolution.

From Samsung Mobile Display were quick to note that this move brought a 50% increase in subpixel count, making the images, and especially text on Super AMOLED Plus screens much more distinct. In fact, they just replaced the PenTile matrix with a normal RGB stripe one, and called it Real Stripe.

Let's see if the Super AMOLED Plus Real Stripe technology made a difference for the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S II, and also, if the overbearing blue OLEDs still bring that annoying cold hue to the image in the newest generation of the AMOLED technology:

Resolution and readability
The PenTile matrix, in its AMOLED layout, uses green subpixels as base, since the human eye is most sensitive to that color when bright, high-res images are involved, and then alternates between blue and red ones, the so-called RG-BG arrangement.

The normal matrix uses RGB-RGB arrangement, thus having 50% more subpixels per one dot of screen estate. Samsung bought the patents for the PenTile arrangement in 2008, and used it in the Super AMOLED display, but trying to fool the human eye in its own game experiment didn't pan out completely. An interesting fact is that the qHD display on the Motorola ATRIX 4G also uses the PenTile matrix, in its LCD RGBW version, but at least the resolution claimed is 540x960, so even if there is some loss of detail, there is an ample amount of pixels to compensate.

As you can easily spot in the 100% crop above, the image from the Samsung Galaxy S II looks much less “grainy” than the one from the Galaxy S with the PenTile arrangement. Text is easier to discern, and small details don't come jagged or lacking, even though we have a slightly larger diagonal size with the same quoted resolution on the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Winner: Super AMOLED Plus


Contrary to Samsung's official Super AMOLED Plus characteristics, Super AMOLED on our Galaxy S unit looks brighter. Samsung Galaxy S has been measured to have 365 nits of brightness, lower than the best LCD screens, but its reflectance is the outstanding 4% only, which is as important for sunlight legibility, as brightness.

Since the Samsung Galaxy S II has this coating too, we can't say that the difference is due to the reflectance ratio – the display on the Galaxy S just appears brighter. Both phones were on maximum brightness, and the separate brightness setting in the browser was maxed out for these sample photos as well.

Winner: Super AMOLED


Definitely a tie here – both AMOLED-based displays share extremely high contrast levels that only the OLED technology can produce, so if there are any differences, they have to be measured by a calibration device, we can't visibly perceive one screen being more “contrasty” than the other. That goes both for the comparison photos, and when we stare at them in reality.

Color gamut and saturation

The Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy S was measured to reproduce way more than the standard color gamut – 140% of it, to be precise, and the colors look rather overblown, which most users find very appealing. Samsung Mobile Display has supposedly toned down the gamut span and color saturation with Super AMOLED Plus, but from the looks of it the difference, while there, is minimal.

Moreover, the blue OLEDs seem to be even more overbearing in our Samsung Galaxy S II unit, bringing a visible blue tint to the display. And that's with the Galaxy S already measured to sport 9688 degrees Kelvin, way too blue and colder than the “reference” D65 color temperature, which, as the name suggests, is supposed to be 6500 degrees Kelvin.

Winner: Super AMOLED Plus, barely

Viewing angles

We can call another tie here – both displays sport the typical for an AMOLED screen very wide viewing field, with only slight degradation in brightness and color saturation, even when looked at from an angle.

Power consumption and display packaging

We can't compare directly the displays' power consumption, since both screens have different size, and the phones have different chipsets and batteries. We managed to obtain about 62 hours of light usage with the Samsung Galaxy S II, and a similar achievement can be had with the Galaxy S as well, so it's hard to judge if the Super AMOLED Plus is really 18% more efficient, we'll take Samsung's word for that. The company says, however, that Super AMOLED Plus comes in a thinner package than Super AMOLED due to an optimized production process, and, looking at the thinnest Android phone with 4.3” display that is the Galaxy S II, we can easily buy that claim.

Winner: Super AMOLED Plus

In the end, it is evident that Super AMOLED Plus is superior to Super AMOLED in more than one way, just as Samsung meant it to be, with brightness being the only eyebrow-raiser. We especially appreciate going back to a normal matrix, which brings “true” 480x800 pixels of resolution to the display on the Samsung Galaxy S II, and makes text and finer details easier on the eyes, especially when browsing.

For more information about the various mobile display technologies you can read our in-depth article here.

Samsung Galaxy S color temperature and brightness measurements courtesy of DisplayMate.

Related phones

Galaxy S II
  • Display 4.3 inches
    800 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP (Single camera)
    2 MP front
  • Hardware Samsung Exynos 4 Dual, 1GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, microSDHC
  • Battery 1650 mAh
  • OS Android 4.1.2
Galaxy S
  • Display 4.0 inches
    800 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP (Single camera)
    0.3 MP VGA front
  • Hardware , 0.5GB RAM
  • Storage 16GB, microSDHC
  • Battery 1500 mAh
  • OS Android 2.3.5



13. nicknowsky unregistered

@andro You're totally right about that. 'Just cause Jobs says"

7. andro unregistered

Retina display pixel count only really becomes noticeable when you view pictures or writing with your eye a few millimeters from the screen as all ifanboys seem to do to justify Steve Jobs claim of the best ever screen

6. calamazoo unregistered

remixfa, if retina is stretched to 4", it will still be above 300ppi, which is the Retina Display threshold. with that said, i still prefer a larger screen :-)

2. clevername

Posts: 1436; Member since: Jul 11, 2008

Sounds like a great improvement to the super amoled. While I do love how the super amoled on my focus looks and I know super amoled plus can only be better, I can't bring myself to be comfortable with a 4.3 inch screen. Its just too big imo. 4 Inches is that great sweet spot. Then again im more of a resolution guy. I like sharper crisper displays like the retina. Just wish it came in 4".

5. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

if the "retina" was stretched to 4inches and beyond it would be nearly the exact same ppi as SA+. Apple only achieved that ppi because of the small size of the screen. According to samsung, there is less than a 5% visible difference between the "retina display" and the super amoled+ display on the galaxy2.

8. mike unregistered

well... samsung will say anything to sell its phones, but trust me it's more than 5% visible difference... 800x480 pixels is just too low for 4.3 inches... just take a look at Motorola or HTC, they both upgraded their displays to higher resolution ones

14. mikeyP unregistered

Apple would also say anything to sell their phones. Terms like retina display mean nothing useful. The SSG 2 is also a retina display as long as your arm is long enough. What is the sub-pixel count for the iphone 4? It is quite high for the SGS2 and not as high for the moto and htc devices. Hence they will look worse. Looking at the next gen of screens from LG in particular but also Sammy there is going to be precious little to tell between them all soon.

1. Roberto unregistered

Contrast is not so high on SGS II, but still waiting for SGS II.

3. daniel_bargs

Posts: 325; Member since: Nov 27, 2010

this comparison is great, but in real-life.... u wont recognize that because it almost looked perfect... as if the screen is like an human eye-sharp.

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