The best phone displays 2023
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What constitutes a great phone display? Is it the high resolution and pixel density? Well, that, and great screen quality test numbers, that's why the Sony Xperia 1 IV specs with the 1644p 4K panel top our list. What about the high brightness and contrast that offer good outdoor visibility in the sun outdoors? That's certainly important, but most of today's flagships have HDR-certified panels that breach the 1000-nit barrier upwards to fit the standard, and their OLED tech ensures practically infinite contrast ratio, so it's hard to pick on that merit alone.
Ditto for credible color gamut presentation, as per-unit display calibration is no longer a prerogative of Apple's iPhones, while said HDR display flagships now cover both the standard RGB, and the wide P3 color gamut. Is it the actual white balance and DeltaE numbers then? It's getting warmer, but throw in dynamically-adjusted refresh rate based on the content displayed, and you've narrowed it down to only a few choices when it comes to the best phone displays that we round up below.
- Sony Xperia 1 IV - top pixel density, high brightness and refresh rate, plus one of the best calibrations around.
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra - the brightest Android phone display with battery-life-friendly LTPO tech and granular 1Hz-120Hz refresh rate.
- Oppo Find N2 - the brightest, most color-accurate foldable phone display with the least visible crease
- Oppo Find X5 Pro - a color-credible panel with 1Hz-120Hz dynamic refresh and MEMS upscaling.
- Google Pixel 6 Pro - top three color-credible display in PhoneArena's benchmark database, 120Hz 1440p display.
- OnePlus 10 Pro - the best variable refresh mobile display on a sub-$900 phone.
- Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max - best and brightest iPhone display.
- Google Pixel 6a - low-key great display on a budget phone, with excellent calibration and brightness.
Best Android phone displays 2022
Sony Xperia 1 IV
Not only does Sony make the only phones with 4K display resolution, but it also calibrates them to a near perfect level. The flagship Sony Xperia 1 IV carries a 6.5" 4K display with the whopping 643 PPI pixel density, and our display benchmarks returned class-beating brightness, white balance and wide gamut color representation credibility levels, some of the best we've measured. Add the high dynamic refresh rate, and the Sony Xperia 1 IV has probably the best panel on a phone so far.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
- 6.8" 1440p LTPO 12-bit HDR panel
- Most granular 1Hz-120Hz dynamic refresh rate @1440p
- Brightest 1750 nits mobile panel, best for outdoor visibility
- Active digitizer with S Pen stylus support
Pay attention to that "brightest" part and the 1Hz-120Hz specs at the full 1440p resolution. Yes, that means that the S22 Ultra is equipped with the newest LTPO OLED display technology that allowed for both the record 1750nits of peak brightness, 15% less battery consumption than what's on the S21/S21+, and the dynamically-allocated refresh rate that can go down to 1Hz when you are looking at static images, or rev up all the way to 120Hz when you scroll.
This brightness is what makes the S22 Ultra display, in particular, stand out, as the granularly adaptive refresh rate has been on Oppo and OnePlus phones before it.
Oppo Find N2
If you are looking for the best foldable phone display, it's again Oppo that delivers with its Find N line, rather than Samsung. We tested the Find N2's display to be one of the most color-credible panel among all phones, not only bendy ones, and the brightest on a foldable phone.
To top it all off, the Oppo Find N2 main screen sports a near-invisible crease thanks to the ingenious new hinge design of Oppo.
Oppo Find X5 Pro
As usual with Oppo, ever since its partnership with Pixelworks, there is a per-unit factory Delta E calibration, color-blindness presets, and camera-to-display wide color management system. The LTPO panel is factory-calibrated and delivers one of the best color credibility Delta measurements we've ever taken, with only Google's Pixels being better here.
Moreover, the Find X5 Pro has the best white balance score, nearest to the 6500K reference point that means the screens colors are spot on in terms of warmth, neither too yellowish, nor cold and blueish. Adding the high typical or peak brightness levels, the company has managed to beat its own best phone displays record.
To take full advantage of its excellent display panel's abilities, the Find X5 Pro employs a "multi-brightness color calibration," meaning that the screen is as color-credible in all lighting conditions, be it on the beach or in the dark.
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Google managed to catch up with factory calibration and its Pixel 6 Pro display now delivers not only one of the most feature-rich panels in the Android universe - 1440p resolution, dynamic 120Hz refresh rate, and high brightness, but it is also in the top three in terms of color representation in our display benchmark database.
OnePlus 10 Pro
- 6.7" 1440p LTPO HDR panels
- Dynamic 1Hz-120Hz refresh rate at the full 1440p resolution
- Extremely low 0.3 JNCD (Just Noticeable Color Difference)
- MEMC video frame rate upscaling
Birds of a feather, the OnePlus 10 Pro and Oppo Find X5 Pro, as they sport the same 6.7" 1440p LTPO OLED panel with dynamic refresh rate and individual display calibration at the factory level courtesy of the imaging specialists from Pixelworks. Thus, you get a near-perfect color accuracy, wide gamut coverage, and high average brightness, all for less than $900 barring any running OnePlus 10 Pro deals.
The high dynamic refresh rate is the best thing that happened to mobile displays since the introduction of the OLED technology, and there is no looking back once you've tried it while browsing and scrolling. Here's the answers on our question how does it all work exactly:
PhoneArena: Which apps get what Hz in Auto Select - is it 120Hz in Chrome, but 60Hz in, say, video playback? What about the interface?
OnePlus: It’s up to the app that you are using. For example, social media apps, browsers, system interface and other local apps like photo/video album support 120Hz, whereas most of the video and gaming apps support 60Hz. For the video playback, the refresh rate will depend on the video frame rate to be either 60Hz or 120Hz.
The display is also basically able to do what MEMC TVs do, automatically increasing frames in video to up the rate, and take better advantage of the high refresh rate even with content that is usually shot with 24fps or 30fps. Detailing the panel's virtues in a blog post, the OnePlus CEO also mentioned that:
Best Apple iPhone display
- iPhone 14 Pro Max
- 6.7" LTPS panel with dynamic 120Hz refresh rate
- Top peak brightness of 2000 nits
- Toughest Ceramic Shield cover glass protection
- Dynamic Island interface system
Apple's finest finally found the 120Hz refresh feature (say that 3 times quickly) and if you are already invested in the iOS ecosystem, there is nothing better than the brightest, toughest displays on an iPhone so far, the one on the iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro.
Apple advertises it as having a record for a phone peak brightness level of 2000 nits, or more typical brightness of 1600 nits when consuming HDR content and 1000 nits otherwise. This is exactly what we measured and these displays are so advanced that only Samsung can make them at the moment with its 12th-gen OLED technology.
As usual, Apple offers great individual color calibration and the Super Retina XDR panel is HDR certified to show 4K Dolby Vision HDR video recorded by the phone's own cameras. The only ho-hum part is the just average greyscale representation, so while the iPhone 14 Pro Max may have the brightest phone screen it's not the most accurate in terms of color credibility.
Apple has partnered with its usual "made in America" investment suspects from Corning to master an exclusive mixture that it calls Ceramic Shield, hinting at the tough "glass-ceramic" material involved in the blend.
Bonus: Pixel 6a's display
Say what you will about Google entering the fray here but the Pixels have very well calibrated displays and the new Pixel 6a is no exception. First off, its color credibility is better than the more established calibration champs here (just look at those DeltaE numbers below). It is also sufficiently bright, so if you are looking for a compact 5G Android phone with a great camera and display that won't break the bank, the Pixel 6a would fit your narrative.
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