The Note 7 is the first smartphone with HDR10-compliant display and this is why you should care


As anyone who's sat through the many format wars of the past—VHS vs Betamax, VCD vs DVD, Bluray vs HD DVD, et cetera—will only know too well, siding with the losing side is a lousy experience, and more than just a little discomforting. What are we supposed to do with that stack of HD DVDs from 2007?! Throw them in the can, that's what, seeing as no modern player cares about your failed bet.

That's why, increasingly, companies enter into 'alliances', with all the key stakeholders ensuring themselves a seat at the table when deciding on the future of whatever technology is on the agenda. A recent example from the TV industry is the UHD Alliance, which was formed in the beginning of 2015. With top players including manufacturers such as Samsung, movie studios like Fox, and content providers like Netflix all in the mix, the main objective is to iron out standards that the entire industry—from creation, through delivery, to reproduction—can agree on. The net result ought to be a consistently better, more immersive experience for consumers.

Among the latest creations of the UHD Alliance, as anyone who's recently shopped for a high-end TV will know, is the so-called High Dynamic Range (HDR for short, or HDR10 if you want to get technical) video standard, alternatively marketed as Ultra HD Premium. Right now, it's only available on the highest of high-end TVs from 2015, and a number of 2016 models.

Why should you care about the TV industry, however? Simple: while exclusive to TVs until recently, as of earlier this month, Samsung is the first smartphone player to bring HDR10 compatibility to the mobile industry with the newly released Note 7. And the implications are potentially great.

What HDR(10) is, and what it isn't



Unlike some of the marketing ploys employed by TV makers in the past, HDR isn't yet another gimmick or inconsequential feature. Instead, what HDR can do for your movie watching experience is pretty significant. Go to the nearest showroom and see for yourself. Anyway...

As with the HDR mode available with a DSLR or a smartphone, the underlying concept is rather simple to grasp: expanded dynamic range between the brightest and darkest areas of any one image, ensuring blacker blacks, brighter brights, and more visible detail previously concealed in shadows. For a TV to be compliant with the HDR10 standard, it needs to reach a specific level of nit brightness, and low enough black levels corresponding to that peak brightness.

Now that we know the basic premise of the HDR10 standard, it's time to note that the above requirements are but a part of the equation. In addition, and as many of you will know from having been bombarded for years by TV makers' parading of their latest product's extremely wide color gamut, granularity of color also has a part to play. As we often try to impress upon readers, the entirety of the web, Android, and pretty much all of the software in existence, complies with a pretty small color gamut called Rec. 709, or sRGB. What you see in theaters, however, is content mastered for a considerably larger gamut, called DCI-P3, which covers a big portion of naturally occurring colors in nature.

Importantly, HDR10 content is mastered for 10-bit color displays, while the Note 7's screen remains a more standard, 8-bit panel with 16M colors (instead of over a billion). At this point, however, a 10-bit display is not a requirement to pass the HDR10 test, not to mention that the custom mDNIe chip inside the the phone can decode HDR content over to the 8-bit display. 

Technicalities aside, the implication is that we all get to enjoy better color granularity, which is to say a much more nuanced color spectrum, and therefore a more compelling image.

The implication



Even for non-fans of Samsung's Super AMOLED tech, at this point it goes without saying that the company is heavily invested in its efforts to continuously improve its displays. As far back as the Galaxy S5, the company has also been outing high-ends with various, specific screen modes that alter the image significantly. Almost without exception, however, these screen modes have had little real benefit in terms of bettering your viewing experience, mostly opting for overly saturated color reproduction, for which no content exists.

With HDR10, however, the advantages are there. Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and pretty much the entire movies industry is committed to supporting this, from film production to delivery. If Samsung's implementation is solid, this should translate into a visibly better image with titles that are available in HDR—especially seeing as how the latest batch of Super AMOLEDs aim at DCI-P3 color gamuts. Under AMOLED cinema mode, for example, the Note 7 checks this requirement.

The takeaway here is that, more than anything else Samsung has done for its displays—such as the rather pointless pixel race—this is one change that could grant Samsung a competitive edge over competitors, some of which are probably already working on HDR for their own devices. Unlike the pointless, super-wide color gamut introductions of old, for which no content really existed, for HDR there's already an established base, and key players are hard at work to push HDR from a premium feature to a given.

Verdict?


No verdict. We need to get the Note 7 in our lab before we can make any conclusions, but we'd be lying if we said that we aren't confident Samsung will pull this one off. All the key pieces are in place, so there's no reason to expect the Note 7 to disappoint as far as its HDR aspirations are concerned. Of course, caution in all things is a philosophy that's proved the most rational in our experience of testing devices to determine if they satisfy the claims made about them.

In any case—if not made perfectly clear already—this is the first time in a long while when we're actually excited about a new piece of display tech. This one has the potential to change your experience noticeably, and for the better.

And we don't get to say that every day.

This story was previously pulled pending a further clarification from Samsung.

Related phones

Galaxy Note 7
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh

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62 Comments

1. keithtae

Posts: 564; Member since: Mar 25, 2015

Haters: "its the same as the s7 edge! Don't buy it!" Obviously they know nothing about technology other than bitching everything.

2. Jason2k13

Posts: 1469; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

They are just trolls, it's funny how they compare the note 7 to the 6 month old S7 edge when clearly the note 7 was made for those who want a pen. If you want a pen buy note 7, if you don't then buy the s7 edge it's cheaper to. But the trolls won't compare it to the note 5 because they know the note 7 made huge improvements.

15. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

You type as if 6 months is 5 years apart.

18. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The fact is people who buy the S aren't interested in the Note. After all, of you bought and S7 edge, why would you consider the Note being released in the same year? Even though the Note is a sibling to the S and is based off the S, the are both sinilar and unique at the same time. The Note has never been exactly like the S, until the Note 5/S6. But even though they share the same hardware, they still aren't the same. Same with S7 and Note 7. The fans just make an excuse because the iPhone has been the same for 3 years and 6 models and they don't want to be alone with their cloned phone. They are jealous nutcases.

35. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Note 7 displays as over 1000 nits of max brightness so it can easy do HDR

36. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

The screen on it own is a big upgrade over the s7 edge

42. PHYCLOPSH

Posts: 652; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

That's a very bright screen, funny thing - only other phone that might be capable of HDR would be the the LG G5 with it's display going up over 800 nits.

51. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The S6 and Note 5 Alao achieve 800+ in auto mode.

47. Hoggington

Posts: 356; Member since: Feb 23, 2016

Keep in mind that's only with auto brightness enabled. In manual brightness mode, it reaches something like 850. Which is still plenty bright.

41. janis

Posts: 397; Member since: Mar 10, 2014

i get edge 7 since i dont use s pen, but that note design is dope, and i think i will get one for my woman. side note my edge 7 at the end of use has over 50% battery left, i use spotify and emails + i do play some clash of clans, so that is monster battery.

3. amats69

Posts: 1527; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

"Obviously they know nothing about technology other than bitching everything." actually your comment also applies to you...

7. keithtae

Posts: 564; Member since: Mar 25, 2015

Hahaha someone here is triggered.

9. amats69

Posts: 1527; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

nah...LOL.. your comment is nothing to me..but i read all your bashing moments when other oems releases their flagships this year...my reply to you is just a reminder that you are one of those "Obviously they know nothing about technology other than bitching everything." LOL..just dont forget that

11. BradyCrack

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 29, 2015

Well, if you bought the 2016 "s" models and you plan to buy the 2016 'note' models I don't think it's worth it at all. I know I'll get attacked for this, but don't upgrade to this smartphone if you have the S7, it's not worth it.

34. willard12 unregistered

I don't think you'll get attacked for the comment. But, the comment is rather pointless. In what case is it ever a good idea to buy devices 3 x months apart? So yes, if you are one of the people in the people that purchased an S7 in April or later, it probably isn't worth it to buy a Note 7 in August. In other words, don't upgrade to this smartphone if you bought another phone 115 days ago-----Thanks, Captain Obvious!

17. guests

Posts: 196; Member since: Jun 19, 2016

Not just haters, but the brainless i-fans too will call it gimmick until apple put 2K on iphone then they will spew BS like "the most innovative tech I've ever seen"..

20. kiko007

Posts: 7506; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

You idiots do more marketing for Apple than anyone :D. I mean, what does the iPhone even have to do with the above comments? Do you bring up your ex every time you talk about attractive women (men....for the ladies)?

21. kiko007

Posts: 7506; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

You idiots do more marketing for Apple than anyone :D. I mean, what does the iPhone even have to do with the above comments? Do you bring up your ex every time you talk about attractive women (men....for the ladies)?

19. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Phonearena need to stop lying. LG G4 and G5 had thats standard before note 7. Basically this HDR10 is a rebrand of the DCI standard. Display mate use the right name DCI for it :http://displaymate.com/Display_Color_Gamuts_1.htm Now look at this link explaining the Quantum display on the G4 :http://lowdown.carphonewarehouse.com/news/lg-ips-quantum-display-explained/30097/ See thats the graphic show exactly the same as the one at diaplay mate ( third one on the right DCI ) So stop lying note 7 far from the first to do it. Now its the one thats do it the best thats i agree note 7 screen is the top of the top but its not the first to use it stop lying!

24. Macready

Posts: 1824; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

The problem is that neither the G4, nor G5 can translate DCI/HDR source material to their (almost) DCI-P3 gamut encompassing displays. Simply put, they slapped in a panel that can display a wide gamut but forgot about the rest of the chain to translate those bits properly into a wide covering gamut, including the last part of that chain: good color calibration.http://www.anandtech.com/show/10217/the-lg-g5-review/4 The Note 7 can actually process HDR source material and translate it to its wide dynamic range supporting display panel, with proper calibration at that.

45. PHYCLOPSH

Posts: 652; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

LG can easily implement the missing pieces to the equation with a future software update.

49. Macready

Posts: 1824; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

"LG can easily implement the missing pieces to the equation with a future software update." In theory, but possibly not without drawbacks since there is no dedicated conversion chip designed to take care of these matters, like the Note 7 has. Which means it could come at a computational penalty (efficiency), since the main SoC would have to take care of it.

50. PHYCLOPSH

Posts: 652; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

True, but isn't that what the SD820 was built to do? I feel like it certainly goes to waste in just processing the Android OS itself as my old phone with the SD801 (supposedly 3x less powerful) felt just about as quick running on CyanogenMod13.

48. Hoggington

Posts: 356; Member since: Feb 23, 2016

PA didn't lie, and your argument is completely wrong...as was pointed out by Mac.

55. HomerS

Posts: 419; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

The G5 has one of the dimmest of not the dimmest display of all newer highend phones. It no way can do over 1000+ nits like the Note 7 can and its blacks is also not as black as from the Note. So i highly doubt that it can comply with the HDR10 or Dolby Vision standards.

56. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

I am a G4 user and I can't notice any improvement in display while watching any movie. So where is this HDR10 in G4?

44. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1832; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

Don't matter what the haters say... I'll have my Super HD Note 7 in my hands this time next week!

52. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

I have (2) on the way.

4. DBounce

Posts: 172; Member since: Apr 26, 2014

This is interesting and unexpected news. Clearly an advantage over all current devices.

5. amats69

Posts: 1527; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

im so excited to hands on this beast! will wait a little time for the next nexus and IP7 before i make a decision...

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