updated 05:05 pm EDT, Thu July 1, 2010
iPhone 4 display sharp but isn't as accurate
A new test has found that the iPhone 4's heavily promoted display is best overall but doesn't quite live up to claims of color accuracy versus the Droid X. While by far the brightest (at 536cd/m2) and the sharpest, Apple's Retina Display was labeled by PCMag as one of the least accurate of the modern crop of smartphones. Although it has a true 24-bit color display, it only reaches 64 percent of the sRGB color space where Motorola's Droid X is at a much better 94 percent.
As such, images on the iPhone are actually "somewhat under-saturated and on the weak side," DisplayMate's Dr. Raymond Soneira, a previous observer of Apple's display output, said today. However, the handset did win a blow against Samsung's claims of AMOLED superiority, as the HTC Droid Incredible's Samsung-made AMOLED screen was the least accurate in the group. Its colors were oversaturated and ultimately worse as they exaggerated the results, especially with a 16-bit display that shows visible color banding artifacts.
The HTC Evo 4G's LCD is more accurate than Apple's but falls short in most other respects.
Apple did win by a slight degree in a contrast test among LCDs and was actually conservative with its contrast ratio; it rated the Retina Display at 800:1 but musters a significantly higher 1,097:1, enough to oust the Droid X. AMOLED won a superficial victory as the absence of a backlight gave the Incredible a 40,000:1 contrast, but that performance is misleading, Dr. Soneira said: since the iPhone is much brighter and doesn't reflect as much ambient light, its contrast is better in anything but dim light.
The findings leave room for improvement for Apple, which has lately been focusing on display quality as a selling point for virtually all of its hardware. Most Macs and the iPad also have IPS panels, but their larger size allows for larger pixels, more advanced backlights and largely higher color accuracy than on an iPhone-sized LCD.