[From Extreme Tech]
Samsung’s device releases are always a big deal, but this year the company has rethought how it makes smartphones. The Galaxy S6 is slimmer, faster, and more attractive than its predecessor. Part of that is a new generation of Samsung’s industry-leading AMOLED panels with a resolution of 2560×1440 at 5.1-inches, which Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate has had a chance to evaluate. The verdict? It’s the best display you can get on a smartphone.
AMOLED screens have overcome a myriad of challenges over the last few years to catch up to LCDs in clarity, reflectivity, and color accuracy. Screens like the ones used on the original Galaxy S were noticeably too warm and had low maximum brightness. The high reflectivity of AMOLED screens also made them almost useless outdoors. Samsung has been solving these problems step-by-step with each new generation of screen tech, and the Galaxy S5 from last year was a breakthrough. Still, the Galaxy S6 improves on its numbers markedly.
The logical resolution of the Galaxy S6’s screen is 2560×1440, but as Soneira points out, Samsung is using a PenTile array to get there. That means there are only half the number of red and blue sub-pixels compared to green ones, but the extremely high density of the panel combined with Samsung’s use of diamond-shaped sub-pixels makes the individual elements almost completely invisible. According to the analysis, you’d need to have perfect vision and hold the phone six inches from your face to see even a hint of the individual pixels.
Samsung builds several rendering modes into its software to tweak the colors. There’s adaptive mode, photo mode, and basic mode. Adaptive mode uses the device’s light sensors to adjust the display performance to look more vivid. This knocks it out of line with the calibrated RGB gamut, but some people are into that. Photo mode gets as close to the Adobe RGB values as possible, and DisplayMate’s analysis shows it’s an almost perfect match. It’s even a little better than the iPhone 6’s LCD. Basic mode is a little more dull, but produces more true-to-life colors.
When it comes to a mobile device, battery life is often the usage bottleneck. You can have the best screen in the world, but it won’t matter if it drains too much power. AMOLEDs used to be notorious for guzzling electrons like there was no tomorrow, but Samsung has dramatically improved matters. Average display power on the GS6 is a mere 0.65 watts. That’s down from 0.82 watts for the Galaxy S5 and compares quite favorably to the 1.52 watts of average power used by the iPhone 6. That’s 23 percent better power efficiency for Samsung.
As LCD resolution increases, it takes more light to shine through the smaller pixels. Light from AMOLED screens is produced in the pixels themselves, so they don’t suffer from the same problems. Samsung manages above average brightness of 348 cd/m2. That’s better than the GS5, but still short of the iPhone’s 566 cd/m2 brightness.
Soneira suggests that LCDs are falling behind in the technological arms race, and manufacturers need to adopt new technologies like quantum dots and dynamic color management to stay competitive with Samsung’s AMOLED panels. You can’t argue with the numbers, and by most metrics, the Galaxy S6 is going to have the best screen around.