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Friend and colleague Ray Soneira, President of DisplayMate Technologies Corp. (www.displaymate.com), recently published the results of his painstaking tests on the display in Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 smart phone. Soneira’s bottom line is that the GS5 has the best display ever put in a cell phone. Although the 5.1-inch display has the same number (1920×1080) of diamond-shaped pixels as the display that appeared in the GS4, this is a very different display. It’s brighter, has lower screen reflectance, provideds greater visibility in high ambient light, consumes less power, and has the most accurate colors of any smart-phone or tablet display DisplayMate has ever measured.

Samsung has been improving the luminance of its OLED smart-phone a tablet displays over the last few generations. The GS5 is 22% brighter than the GS4 (but consumes no more power) and 13% brighter than the Galaxy Note 3 tablet, according to DisplayMate’s measurements. For most image content it provides a luminance over 400 nits, which is comparable to or greater than LCDs of this size. But it gets even better. When “automatic brightness” is turned on, the GS5 generates a remarkable 698 nits in high ambient light. That’s 47% brighter than the GS4, and in this mode it’s the brightest mobile display DisplayMate has ever tested. On the other end of the luminance range, you can enter “super dimming mode” and reduce luminance to only 2 nits — useful for your next night operation with Seal Team Six.

Although multiple screen modes are not new in Samsung mobile devices, the GS5 implements the feature well, with the modes modes offering different levels of color saturation and display calibration. Of the five screen modes in the GS5, the “cinema mode” provides the most accurate color and white point calibration for the sRGB/Rec. 709 color gamut that is used for most consumer content on PCs, TVs, digital still cameras, and camcorders. The “professional photo mode” provides an accurate calibration for the Adobe RGB gamut, which is 17% larger than the Rec. 709 gamut.

The “adapt display mode” provides real-time adaptive processing. For some applications it will vary the white point, gamut, and color saturation based on the image content and the color of the ambient lighting as measured by an RGB ambient light sensor, which measures color in addition to illuminance. This mode also delivers higher color saturation, which helps compensate for the washing out of screen color and contrasts from reflected light under high ambient.

With our without this mode, the GS5′s display starts off with good specifications for high-ambient viewing. Screen reflectance is only 4.5%, which may not sound all that good if you design aircraft cockpit displays, but (along with the GS4) this is the lowest reflectance for a mobile display ever measured by DisplayMate. Combined with the GS5′s very high luminance when automatic brightness is turned on, this provides a contrast rating for high ambient light that ranges from 75 to 155, the highest DisplayMate has ever measured.

Soneira concludes his report this way: “Based on our extensive Lab tests and measurements, the Galaxy S5 is the Best performing Smartphone display that we have ever tested. It has a long list of new records for best Smartphone display performance including: Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Color Accuracy, Infinite Contrast Ratio, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light, and smallest Brightness Variation with Viewing Angle. It has raised the bar for top display performance up by another notch – an impressive achievement for OLED technology!” Soneira says a lot more about the GS5 display at http://displaymate.com/Galaxy_S5_ShootOut_1.htm, including extensive specification and comparison charts.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 may have the best specifications of any smart phone introduced to date, and generated the kind of pre-launch excitement that used to be reserved for new Apple products. Now, thanks to Ray Soneira’s typically diligent testing, we know that the phone has a display worthy of its other specifications.

Ken Werner is Principal of Nutmeg Consultants, specializing in the display industry, manufacturing, technology, and applications. He consults for attorneys, investment analysts, and companies entering or repositioning themselves in industries related to displays and the products that use them. You can reach him at kwerner@nutmegconsultants.com.

Posted by Ken Werner, April 19, 2014 7:52 AM

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About Ken Werner

Kenneth I. Werner is the founder and Principal of Nutmeg Consultants, which specializes in the display industry, display technology, display manufacturing, and display applications. He serves as Marketing Consultant for Tannas Electronic Displays (Orange, California) and Senior Analyst for Insight Media. He is a founding co-editor of and regular contributor to Display Daily, and is a regular contributor to HDTVexpert.com and HDTV Magazine. He was the Editor of Information Display Magazine from 1987 to 2005.