Screen Comparison: Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 vs Xperia Z vs One vs Galaxy S III vs Lumia 920
You want the details? Read on!
Brightness and Visibility
Despite the improvements that Samsung continues to do to its so-called Super AMOLED screen technology, it's still lagging behind the quality LCD screens in the brightness department. We find the LCD displays of the iPhone 5, One, Xperia Z and Lumia 920 to be a bit brighter than the one of the GS4, and even more compared to the GS3, which is dimmer than its successor.
This lack of brightness also leads to worse visibility in outdoor conditions for the AMOLED screens. The Galaxy S4 isn't unusable, but it's perceptibly harder to read than the bright screens of the Apple iPhone 5 and HTC One, which lead the pack in this respect.
In addition, we would like to see manufacturers make their displays so that the user is able to set the brightness extremely low, in order to make it more comfortable to view in the dark. Some models are much better than others at this, with the iPhone 5 taking the lead. The Galaxy S4 is OK, it can get quite dark, but it would have been nice if it could go even further.
Most of the smartphones we've line up here treat us to some pretty good viewing angles, but there are some exceptions. First of all, we would like to point the Xperia Z out, as the device that probably has the worst viewing angles of all six. We still don't know why, but Sony's screens traditionally suffer from poor viewing angles, with contrast and brightness degrading quickly as we start tilting the handset.
Then come the AMOLED displays of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S III, which are quick to become bluish even when looked at a slight angle. Otherwise, they do well retaining relative contrast and brightness. However, the quality LCD screens of the iPhone 5 and One do equally well, and even manage to retain a more natural color balance. Unfortunately, the Nokia Lumia 920's LCD display is more similar to the Xperia Z in terms of viewing angles, rather than the iPhone 5 or One.
Resolution is the name of the game in 2013, as most high-end Android phone manufacturers are equipping their creations with 1080p screens that reach astronomical pixel densities of 400+ ppi. The HTC One leads the pack in that respect as it couples the 1080p resolution with a 4.7” screen, which makes for the incredible 468 ppi. The second places is shared by the Xperia Z and Galaxy S4, the 5” displays of which have a pixel density of 441 ppi. Third is the Lumia 920 with 332 ppi, and immediately after it comes the iPhone 5 with 326 ppi. Finally, we have the Galaxy S III with 306 ppi.
As you know, basically every display which has a pixel density of more than 300 ppi is very sharp, but hey, these 400+ ppi monsters we have today are really pushing the boundaries to the extreme. There's so much resolution that you can't even tell that the Galaxy S4 has a PenTile matrix pixel arrangement. You can examine the pixel arrangement of each display in the super-close-up images with the word “Classic.”
Our favorite screens in terms of colors are those of the Apple iPhone 5 and HTC One. Their advanced LCD displays output super-realistic, yet vibrant and lively colors that manage to please both the purist users and those who just want a breath-taking image. The Nokia Lumia 920 is also quite good, though it's a bit less vibrant. The Xperia Z isn't bad as well, though as we said, it's very easy to lose the liveliness in it just by viewing it at a very slight angle.
Samsung is still struggling to achieve a more true-to-life image with its AMOLED screens, which have always gravitated towards the colder side. That becomes evident with the appearance of special screen modes in the Galaxy S4 that aim at tuning the screen to a more natural state. We certainly appreciate the company's efforts as they are clearly in the right direction. Indeed, the Galaxy S4 is much better than its predecessor color-wise. When you compare the two, the GS III is noticeably more bluish. Still, there's still more room for improvement.
Just when we thought that LCD technology doesn't have anything more to offer, innovation has once again come to the rescue, allowing certain manufacturers to produce one of the most amazing screens we've ever seen. After all is said and done, it becomes evident that the quality LCD displays like those of the Apple iPhone 5 and HTC One are unsurpassed when it comes to overall image quality with their sharp, lively and realistic visuals.
However, Samsung is making big moves forward with each new major release. Its AMOLED technology has transformed from cold and pixelized to surprisingly authentic and artifact-free. The Galaxy S4's Super AMOLED screen is an improvement over its predecessor in every possible way, but this comparison showed us that there's still quite a bit of room for improvement. Still, the GS4's display is amazing the way it is right now, and proves that this relatively young technology has the potential to become something exceptional as time goes on.