Report: Galaxy S4 Matches iPhone5 in Display Dazzle

The Samsung Galaxy S4, scheduled to launch worldwide Saturday, has a display that’s on par with the trendsetting Retina Display of Apple’s iPhone 5, according to display experts DisplayMate Technologies.

The company conducted tests on screen reflections, brightness and contrast, colors and intensities, viewing angles, display power consumption and running time on battery.

The Galaxy S4 offers a full high-definition (HD) display at 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is the same pixel resolution in a 5.5-inch or smaller screen as that of a 50-inch HDTV, DisplayMate said. Displaying HD content at its native resolution saves battery life because there’s no need to rescale.

However, that quality might just be overkill. The S4 offers 441 pixels per inch (PPI) resolution, but people with 20/20 vision can’t resolve the individual pixels at viewing distances of 7.8 inches or more, which is very close range for viewing a 5-inch display, DisplayMate said.

Still, “people that appreciate nice, big, beautiful images will be drawn to the Galaxy S4,” DisplayMate President Raymond Soneira told TechNewsWorld.

The high resolution will also benefit people who read text on their smartphones. Studies show that people read faster and with less visual fatigue when the text is very sharp and with very high image contrast, he noted.

The latest OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays like the Galaxy S4’s use digital pulse width modulation to specify the brightness of every subpixel, which lets them precisely vary and control their intensity scales, Gamma values, white points, color calibration and color management in firmware or software.

That “has dismissed the differentiation that Apple has displayed with the Retina screen,” said Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI Research.

DisplayMate’s Findings

The Galaxy S4 offers 312 red and blue subpixels per inch, which is only a few percentage points lower than Apple’s benchmark 326 PPI iPhone Retina display, DisplayMate said.

The Galaxy S4, like the Galaxy Note II, offers five user-selectable screen modes: Adaptive, Dynamic, Standard, Professional Photo, and Movie. However, they all provide a slight greenish tint to content, which can be fixed by readjusting the internal color management.

Battery consumption is reduced in the Galaxy S4 thanks to an innovative approach. Automatic Brightness is turned on, and the Peak Brightness becomes 34 percent brighter in high ambient lighting than is possible with Manual Brightness, preventing users permanently setting the brightness value very high.

Shootout At The Smartphone Corral

Although the Galaxy S4 is comparable with or brighter than most LCD smartphones, it’s still 15 percent less bright than the iPhone 5, particularly for screens with mostly peak white backgrounds. The iPhone 5 also has slightly better color calibration, although the Galaxy S4 has a more accurate white calibration.

The Galaxy S4, however, has a much bigger screen, higher resolution, higher PPI, much darker blacks and better screen uniformity than the iPhone 5.

When it comes to overall grades, DisplayMate says the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 are tied.

Where’s The Technology Going?

“By and large, people like the screens they have right now,” Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC told TechNewsWorld. “I don’t think people will be impressed with the number of PPI, but I’m excited to see high PPI on the high-end of the market because when it gets down to the mass market, it’s going to help evangelize the rest of the crowd.”

Display technology “has maxed out what can be done,” but in the future a mobile device could drive content both on its screen and on an external display simultaneously, ABI’s Orr said.

“In the short term, [higher PPI] is totally bragging rights, and it goes to show how far we’ve come in smartphone development,” Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research, told TechNewsWorld. “But you’ve got to have something a year or two ahead of the people designing apps for it, and in the long run it’ll come down to people being able to design apps that take advantage of better capabilities on mobile devices.”

Healthcare, she added, is one field where such advances might be seen.

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