Super AMOLED Plus vs Super AMOLED vs Retina Display

Super AMOLED Plus vs Super AMOLED vs Retina Display
Updated with additional pictures and info

We quickly put the preview unit of the Samsung Galaxy S II that's making the rounds in the office next to last year's best screen technologies - the Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy S, and the IPS-LCD Retina Display on the iPhone 4.

For pitting three of the most advanced screen technologies on existing smartphones, we used the studio setup you can see here, with diffused lighting on both sides with the same color temperature as daylight, for reference purposes, and then 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 contrast on the Super AMOLED screens is higher, but the iPhone 4's IPS-LCD is brighter, as you can see in the shots below, which comes in handy in broad daylight. Samsung has tried to compensate with a low-reflectance coating, but the results don't seem to be good enough.

Text on Sammy's newest flagship appears crisper now, than on the display of the Galaxy S, due to the fact that Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus technology uses a normal RGB matrix for the pixel arrangement, not the PenTile one on the first generation, which utilized less subpixels, thus altering the perceived resolution.

Both matrix arrangements, however, can't beat the Retina Display resolution.

There is this bluish hue that overcasts the AMOLED displays, and Super AMOLED Plus ones for that matter. Conversely, the IPS-LCD as found on the iPhone 4 manages to present us with somewhat more natural colors, although not as saturated and popping-out.

In the end, here's our summary: what we like more on the iPhone 4's IPS-LCD screen is its incredibly high resolution, natural-looking colors, as well as great outdoor and wide-angle visibility, with the latter being on par with Super AMOLED Plus. The Galaxy S II's Super AMOLED Plus however leaves its mark when it comes to awesome contrasts (these are contrasts, which are near complete awesomeness, by the way), as well as greatly-saturated colors, which can make even the most boring of images stand out.



1. rtimi unregistered

Wow, and people thought the retina display was so good. the truth is that the smaller screen gave apple the advantage, but we are proud of our SAMOLED+ for coming out to show the world that AMOLED is better when tweaked correctly.

3. Kjayhawk

Posts: 294; Member since: Oct 07, 2010

I don't mean to be that guy, but the iphone 4 is a year old... So no doubt we would see an improvment

7. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Yeah, let's try this comparison when the SII is actually on the market in multiple countries. By then Apple will have a 3.9" Retina display.

8. 3MTA3 unregistered

wait wait wait wait....not 3.9! That's not how crapple works my friend. If anything they will go with a 3.6" on the ifone 5, then next year a 3.7 then the year after 3.8 THEN, three +years from now a 3.9. Just hold your horses son, don't push the fruit company too hard now. You ask for too much and predict technology that is unheard of yet. DOH!

9. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

They'll still find a way to spin a larger display like it's a huge innovation. "We've done extensive medical research indicating that the average human thumb is unable to navigate screens larger than 3.9". This is the world's first ergonomically sized screen in a smartphone. We call it the Retina-Thumb display."

16. Dark4o90

Posts: 205; Member since: Feb 20, 2011

Despite this i prefer 4.3

29. isaiah unregistered

lol your SOOO right that made my day xD screw those apple fanboys rating your comment down :p

22. cheetah2k

Posts: 2271; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

This is a FAIL test Can anyone see any of the SAMOLED screens out doors?? No, I didn't think so I'm not an iPhone fanboy, but the iPhone SLCD is the only one that works with the sun blazing down

24. biggles

Posts: 269; Member since: Oct 15, 2009

Thank god we don't live on a desert planet with no atmosphere and multiple suns, right? Between clouds, shade, roofed structures, and general planetary rotation, direct sunlight visibility isn't the end-all be-all of display testing.

30. Toshu unregistered

Am I the only one who don;t have problems with viewing my Omnia 7 out of the sun?!

32. Sharkaat unregistered

Nope, you're not the only one.

36. bloodymurderlive

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

Actually, the SAMOLED+ screens are clearly visible in direct sunlight. The Retina Display has a far lower contrast ratio (800:1), so it *has* to be bright to be usable in sunlight, or else the contrast quickly washes out. The SAMOLED+ screens, which have roughly a 40,000:1 contrast ratio, are at least as usable in direct sunlight as the Retina Display, because their brightness is comparable, yet they don't need as much brightness to prevent becoming washed-out thanks to their contrast ratio.

38. jeepster40 unregistered

Seems to me the author is saying he like the iPhone screen better??? Maybe you missed when he said the colors are more natural. That means they look the way they are supposed to not artificially enhanced. The only place he even gives samsung a little nod is saturation... So yeah WOW the Retina display is that great and is still better even being a year old... less the a month until the gap gets wider samsung...

44. omniknight

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 29, 2012

natural ??? i think it applies for camera clicks not for display... wat does a natural color means when u r looking into the phone for reading text or browsing.. wat the .....??

2. simpleleong

Posts: 14; Member since: Jun 08, 2010

Samsung Galaxy S II FTW!!!

14. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

look how cute that little iphone4 is next to the bigger badder phones. It looks so small.. like a chiuaua next to a doberman and a dane. lol.

39. jeepster40 unregistered

Yeah who wants a tablet in their pocket??? Not only does the iPhone look cute next to those other terms its still looks better. A whole year of trying and the others still lag...

43. mooseolly

Posts: 5; Member since: Jan 13, 2012

This is the problem with ixxxxx, 3.5 inch to them will always be the perfect size, anything beyond 4" is a tablet size to them. And when the year 2012 came out with a 4 inch iphone, they will be bragging how perfect their screen size is. It happens all the time for ixxxxx, that's y people like you disgust us.

4. Xpple unregistered

It's that nice 4.3" screen that's the win. . .less than 4" on a phone is useless.

5. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

To each his own. I think more than 4" on a phone is a gargantuan.

10. VZW Rep unregistered

I tend to agree. I love my Droid X, don't get me wrong, but has it really gotten that crazy that a 3.7in screen is considered "small?" That was what I thought was about the perfect size for a smartphone a year ago when the Incredible launched. The line between tablet and smartphone is getting really blurry (aside from ability to make calls, of course). I've heard of the Dell Streak being referred to as both by employees. I'm just wondering, size-wise, what the dividing line is according to manufacturers at this point.

11. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Probably about that size...5". Personally I can't see someone holding a Streak up to their ear, but I thought the Droid X looked silly too. I'll consider one of these 4.3" phones if I have no other option in an LTE phone, but I prefer how the SII is compensating by making it thinner as well.

42. Sleepaway unregistered

In terms of specs and the screen, the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S II seem to be pretty close with Samsung Galaxy S II taking the lead. The Retina display truly is still remarkable despite the lower contrast ratio when you do actually use the phones. The Super AMOLED Plus is a great screen that while it has great contrast and saturation, it's hard to go from being used to seeing a 326dpi screen to a mere 200dpi being that the screen is blown up. In terms of design, Apple's industrial design is the reason why it has stayed on top. From the basics of material choice to the assembly. Size and scale becomes increasingly important as the space around a product has to be also factored into a composition. The stainless steel band juxtaposed with the chemically strengthened glass is a marvelous design feat while maintaining a great sense of balance and sturdiness. The Galaxy S II's design is similar but choice of material and scale being said, contrary to the ridiculous notion of "bigger being better" the fact is they can make a phone bigger but then our hands and pockets would have to be bigger too. Also, decreasing thickness and increasing area is a surefire way to step towards more flimsiness and the likelihood of the material giving way under pressure especially if you choose plastic. In the end, it's just preference.

12. VZW Rep unregistered

There's a few 4" screens coming out- if I'm not mistaken the Bionic will be that size, and so will the Samsung Stealth. Not official specs of course, but they're coming out relatively soon and the rumors are that's the size they'll be. But yeah it seems that by and large none of the manufacturers have anything smaller than that in the pipeline for LTE.

13. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

its not so much the display, but the size of the phone itself. What i like about the galaxy2 is, its only a hair larger than the galaxyS but it adds .3 to the screen size. Unlike phones like the droidX and Evo which are way bigger over all to achieve the same screen size.

15. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

I think all the phone makers are making strides in packaging. The 4" Atrix isn't much bigger than the iPhone, and much smaller than last year's 4" Captivate. I'd like to see Samsung (with the SII) and Apple (with the iPhone 5) both push the envelope with how much phone they can fit in a moderate size.

17. 530gemini

Posts: 2198; Member since: Sep 09, 2010

I know right? I mean since when did they start making 3.5 screens for phones? Everyone has 4.3 displays for their phones even before the iphone. Right? Lol.

31. Toshu unregistered

I'm more than happy with my 4" Omnia 7 :P I think it's the best display I've seen so far, iPhone's 4 has more resolution but when I put the same colorful picture on iPhone and my Omnia ... guess who is the winner :D

6. IOS5 unregistered

Super Amoled and Super Amoled plus I think the same but the deference only in super Amoled plus more contrast better pixel but still retina better cus of the pixels.

18. Dark4o90

Posts: 205; Member since: Feb 20, 2011

you won't look at the screen from 10cm sooo amoled + is perfect

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.