Color reproduction

Ah, color reproduction – such a complex area to explore, but also one that's extremely important, as it determines how good-looking and accurate a screen is going to be to a large extent. There are a lot of metrics here to look at, so let's get going!

Color temperature is one of the most important things to consider. It represents the balance between red and blue in the display, and determines if your screen is going to have a colder or a warmer tone to it. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin, and the reference value is 6500. It's typical for smartphones to usually exhibit a slightly colder/bluish look, and neither of the participants in this comparison are exception to the rule. The Xperia Z2 does best here with a color temp of 6900 K, which is quite good. The iPhone 5s and HTC One (M8) follow closely behind with 7150 K, slightly edging the G3's 7300 K. The Galaxy S5 is worst in this respect. In Standard screen mode, it hovers around the 8100 K mark, although you can switch to Professional or Cinema mode in order to bring this down. Still, even though the GS5's temperature can get relatively close to the reference value, it suffers from another problem — too much green color — which prevents it from looking... well, good. Such kind of excessive green isn't present with the rest of the gang.

Gamma is also an important metric, as it will indicate if the phone would assign the correct brightness level to various items in the content. The reference is 2.2, but some manufacturers opt for a higher gamma as it typically suggests more contrasty visuals. In this category, the iPhone 5s is king, with its average gamma of 2.21. The Galaxy S5 isn't far behind with 2.25, while the Z2 is remarkably off with 2.59. The G3 has a gamma of 2.32 – pretty decent, though just a bit more contrasty than needed. Finally, the One (M8) has a slightly low gamma of 2.11, suggesting that certain areas will be a bit brighter than necessary.

Delta E is a metric used to indicate the average color inaccuracy of a display. We measure it in two different ways: once by using a greyscale, and once by measuring primary and secondary colors. In addition, by analyzing the CIE charts containing the measurements of the screens, we can see just where the faults happen to be. In this department, it is the iPhone 5s that gets closest to the reference values with its Delta E greyscale of 2.66 and Delta E color (or rgbcmy) of 3.36. Bear in mind that values of up to 3 are considered in the 'great zone'; values between 3 and 5 are OK, but going over 5 means that there are significant color inaccuracies exhibited by the display in questions. But back to our ranking – the G3 actually follows pretty closely with Delta E greyscale of 3.82 and Delta E rgbcmy of 3.78. All the other phones stay in the safe zone of up to 5, with the exception of the Galaxy S5, which has a Delta E greyscale of 5.08 and Delta E rgbcmy of 7.38, which is rather high. That is if we examine the phone's Standard display mode. We won't go into detail about the characteristics of the rest of its screen modes, because none of them manages to push it into the 'acceptably accurate' domain. Still, if you're interested about those other screen modes – you can find that info here.

NOTE: The photos above have been post-processed in order to represent the real-world performance of the displays.

If we take a closer look at the CIE charts, we can then see that in what way each of the handsets deviates from the standard. The Sony Xperia Z2, for example, stick with an evenly spaced gradation of colors, but tends to oversaturate each and every shade to a small extent. On the other hand, the HTC One (M8) prefers to stay closer to the confines of the sRGB colorspace, but boosts certain midrange shades in order to achieve a more intensive color effect. The LG G3 has a similar approach, but the oversaturation effect is a bit more exaggerated with it, compared to the One (M8). Meanwhile, if we take a look at the Apple iPhone 5s' chart, we can see how much closer it is to the reference values (the dots are very close to their respective squares). This indicates that there isn't any cheesy oversaturation going on.

Beyond the various aspects that we examined, we, naturally, find that the Galaxy S5 differs from the rest by offering fancy, yet overly-inaccurate colors. They do appear very eye-catching at first glance, but we have to take into account how far from target they are, often resulting in certain things looking a bit weird on screen.



1. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Kind of disappointed that G3 didn't dominated the competition. However, my Z2 is holding well in this fight :D

49. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

A 4" 640p screen scored higher than a 5"+ 1080p? Huh?

66. farhad_per

Posts: 128; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

Do you have S5...? I own S5 and I get that tiger photo... you can't belive how much this site lying...! The tiger photo was fantastic and more accurate colors...really white...they put a fake photo and related to S5..really shame on PA...every one has S5 get that tiger photo and judge your real that tiger photo in S5 is far better than 5s and most accurate.!

69. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Yup. S5 hands down best display.

92. sipha

Posts: 440; Member since: May 12, 2012

Even on out door visibility picture, to me the iPhone clear got out performed by the Z2 & M8..

160. Furbal unregistered

Yeah it does have a damn good display. Theres a G2, 1520, M8 and S5 on my desk. I like the M8 better overall but the S5 does outclass it on display.

83. enthasuium

Posts: 150; Member since: Nov 21, 2013

Liar Phoerena used Professional Display Mode on s5 instead of Movie Mode.

87. needa

Posts: 205; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

it very well could be the screen in that phone vs the screen in yours. some show white in pink, some in green, some are yellow. some of the screens show white really well, some do not.

97. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Why am I not surprise that iPhone is the no. 1. By the end of the day it's user preference .

105. DerryAhmad

Posts: 296; Member since: May 05, 2012

the iPhone shared the same score as Z2 and M8. There's no clear number one. Only number 4 (S5) ;)

113. EiadAjam

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

yes sure, especially when it is white-greened tiger xD

118. neiljay6

Posts: 3; Member since: Apr 26, 2014

I found the same photo and it looks nothing like what they have on the site. hmmm...

126. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Yo you calling Ray S. a liar?!?

127. gynorm

Posts: 38; Member since: Jul 31, 2013

Ray is on something... read the article on displaymate for an accruate review on the Galaxy S5 display.

70. PunyPoop

Posts: 752; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

Lol it's okay it's okay. Let's wait for the Galaxy F (no sarcasm) I think I might like the design of it.


Posts: 399; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

Look at that green white tiger on the GS5 display lol

88. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Its a green tiger dude....

153. jgalvez21

Posts: 21; Member since: May 29, 2014

put the same picture in my phone. no green tiger , it looks actually better all those photos

62. enthasuium

Posts: 150; Member since: Nov 21, 2013

Dont believe this pointless article by PA. After 1 month they will come up and Say we apologize , we did wrong Color Reproduction: HTC m8 beats other Outdoor : s5, then 5s Resolution : iphone should be less than 5 , Blurry

89. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Amoled is yellowish display. LCD is whitish display.

90. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

My question is... How do we know the camera they used has good color reproduction?

130. Busyboy unregistered

If it was taken with an ISOCELL camera it's guaranteed according to sar44

137. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012


119. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

120. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

124. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

122. sar44

Posts: 278; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

Where is viewing angles, contrast, black color, video (response time) tests? Paid pa

135. baibhav93

Posts: 24; Member since: May 09, 2014

yeah z does well...even in sunlight....they didnt compare lumia 1520...its better than all of them...i used it in sunlight n it was better than my z2 and s5...

164. LGisgood

Posts: 833; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

LG G3 still the SHARPEST and still Great in COLOR REPRODUCTION. the outdoor visibility is not that bad! most people will not looking their phone'screen in the middle of the Sunlight! Great Job LG!

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