updated 10:55 pm EST, Mon February 22, 2010
N1 shows low brightness, artifacts
Despite a number of reviews suggesting the Nexus One's AMOLED display is superior to LCDs used on most smartphones, such as the iPhone, the testing equipment company DisplayMate came to different conclusions following a series of evaluations with both devices. The report, authored by DisplayMate president Dr. Raymond Soneira, covers a variety of observations relating to color depth, image quality, brightness, contrast ration, and more.
The Nexus One's 800x480 OLED display offers a higher resolution and pixel density than the iPhone's 480x320 LCD. HTC utilizes a PenTile pixel arrangement, however, which is claimed to lack the sharpness of a 800x480 LCD equivalent.
DisplayMate notes an "absolutely shocking discovery" that the Nexus One display is limited to 16-bit color, leaving only 64 intensity levels for green and 32 levels for red or blue. "This is common on cheap low-end devices, but it is unacceptable for an expensive high-performance 'Super Phone' that Google claims it to be," writes Soneira.
The 16-bit color becomes apparent when viewing the intensity scale ramps. The Nexus One exhibits blatant steps and green-magenta tinting on white, while the iPhone ramps are smooth and free from artifacts.
"In particular, text, icons and menu graphics generated by the Android OS are all outstanding, very sharp, with excellent PenTile sub-pixel rendering," says Soneira. "On the other hand, in the important category of images, pictures and photographs from external sources, whether they be from digital cameras or web content, are rendered poorly and inaccurately, with over-saturated colors, bad color and gray-scale accuracy, large color and gray-scale tracking errors, calibration errors, lots of image noise from excessive edge and sharpness processing, and many artifacts."
DisplayMate found the peak white brightness to be poor on the Nexus One, although the contrast ratio and black levels were both impressive. Google integrates dynamic color and dynamic contrast technology to automatically 'enhance' images, although Soneira criticizes the device for not leaving this conversion as an option.
Despite the early observations, DisplayMate will continue to report on additional tests and eventually release a detailed point-for-point comparison between the displays on each smartphone.
Nexus One images on left side, iPhone on right side
NASA Photo - Sunset on Mars
Intensity Scale Ramps