Motorola Droid vs. Google Nexus One

DisplayMate‘s Dr. Raymond M. Soneira has posted up a detailed analysis of the 3.7-inch TFT LCD used in Motorola’s Droid smartphone in Motorola Droid LCD Display Shoot-Out and compares it to the Nexus One in Nexus One Versus Motorola Droid Display Shoot-Out. The first set of articles in Display Showdown: Nexus One vs. iPhone 3GS took the PenTile Matrix OLED used in the Nexus One and compared it to the LTPS TFT LCD used in the iPhone. The winner was the iPhone’s 3.5-inch LCD. Now let’s see how the Nexus One compares to the Droid.

24-bit test patterns with a native pixel format of 854×480 and 24-bit test photos with HD pixel formats were downloaded to the Droid. All measurements were made using DisplayMate Multimedia Edition for Mobile Displays to generate the analytical test patterns. Precise measurements were taken with a spectraradiometer, specifically the Konica Minolta CS-200 ChromaMeter.

Android OS: Both the Nexus One and the Droid uses Google’s Android OS. In DisplayMate’s tests the Nexus One sported the updated 2.1 version while the Droid was stuck on 2.0.1 (Note: The Droid can now be upgraded to Android 2.1. Source: Motorola). The Nexus One exhibited many image-related quality problems in the previous study and I wonder whether it was the Nexus One or more of a problem with the Android OS.

Using the Gallery app, the Droid provided image quality that was the same as the Professional Sony High Definition Studio Monitor:

All of the photos on the Droid were an excellent match, including faces and well known objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, grass, even a Coca-Cola can.

As you may remember the Nexus One had issues using the Gallery app that led to false contouring and noise in the image. The “Sunset on Mars” NASA photo came out beautifully in the Gallery app as did the Intensity Scale Ramps in both the Gallery and Browser apps. The 24-bit color display system helps:

The Droid provides full on-screen 24-bit color, which has 256 possible intensity levels for each of the Red, Green and Blue sub-pixels that are used to mix and produce all of the on-screen image colors.

Calibration on the Droid was deemed excellent that produced artifact-free images. The white point color temperature as well as the intensity scale was very close to industry standards. Scaling always introduces some noise but the Droid’s rescaling function to fit the 854×480 pixel format was top-notch:

The image and picture quality on the Droid is actually better than in most computer monitors and HDTVs.

Yes, that good. One caveat: the Browser app used in the Android OS is not up to snuff. The same artifacts that were exhibited on the Nexus One showed up on the Droid. Google will need to fix this problem pronto since browsing is such a large part of what we do on smartphones… well, maybe a little less now thanks to the iPad.

Hardware Test Results: The Droid’s 3.7-inch TFT LCD posted excellent numbers!

  • Maximum Brightness (Peak Luminance): 449 cd/m² – probably the highest among all current mobile displays.
  • Black Brightness: 0.165 cd/m² – quite dark for a mobile display.
  • Contrast Ratio (static): 1,436:1 – better than most LCD monitors!
  • Contrast Ratio (dynamic): 2,721:1 – I don’t put too much credence into dynamic CR unless a direct-lit LED BLU and local dimming is part of the feature set.
  • Screen Reflectance: 12.1% – average. SR is the most important spec for a mobile display.
  • High Ambient Light Contrast Rating: 37 – very good. DisplayMate considers the Droid “among the best mobile displays for high ambient lighting.”
  • Dynamic Color & Dynamic Contrast: Yes. Typically dynamic contrast is used to pop colors. The Droid, instead, uses it to reduce power consumption of the backlight. Kudos, but dynamic color and contrast should be options the user can turn off.
  • Color Temperature of White: 6752° Kelvin – excellent, very close to the industry standard D6500, the color of daylight.
  • Color Gamut: Excellent – Very close to the industry standard, sRGB / Rec.709
  • Intensity Scale: Very Good – Matches closely to Gamma 2.2.
  • Viewing Angle Brightness Shift: 64% decrease at 30° to just 160 cd/m² – terrible.
  • Viewing Angle Black Level Brightness Shift: 88% increase in black level brightness at 30° to 0.31 cd/m² – terrible.
  • Viewing Angle Contrast Ratio Shift: Falls to 280 at 30° – terrible, but still acceptable for text. Images are impacted more by shifts in contrast ratio.
  • Viewing Angle Color Shift: None noticeable – excellent.
  • RGB Display Power Consumption: 0.46 watts when completely black and 0.87 watts when completely white.
  • Luminous Efficiency: 0.0007 when black, 0.19 red, 0.73 green, 0.08 blue (normalized to 1.0 for white)
  • Spectra: The Droid’s TFT LCD uses a LED backlight. The LED uses a blue LED chip with a yellow phosphor coating to generate white light. The spectra of the Droid’s LCD is a filtered broadband spectrum.

DisplayMate Best Video Hardware Guide Awards: DisplayMate awarded the Motorola Droid the DisplayMate Best Video Hardware Guide Award for both smartphones and the entire mobile display category. Kudos to Motorola! For a more thorough analysis of the Droid’s measurement results hop on over to Motorola Droid LCD Display Shoot-Out.

Versus Nexus One: So how does the Droid compare to the Google Nexus One? Quite well actually.

  • Overall Assessment: “The Motorola Droid LCD [sic] is the finest mobile display we have tested.” [Droid 1: Nexus One:0]
  • Display Resolution: Tied. Though the Droid has a bit more pixels than the Nexus One, the two are quite equal. [Droid 2: Nexus One: 1]
  • Total Number of Sub-Pixels: The Nexus One uses the PenTile Matrix OLED display sub-pixel system that has a different sub-pixel design than the typical 3×1 RGB in LCDs. Although the number of sub-pixels in the Droid is considerably more than in the Nexus One, because of innate difference in how those sub-pixels are driven the comparison is less meaningful than if the two displays used the same sub-pixel layout. Read Nexus One PenTile Matrix OLED Display for more details. [Droid 3: Nexus One 1]
  • Displayed Color Depth: Droid wins hands down with 24-bit. [Droid 4: Nexus One 1]
  • Image Scaling to Fit the Screen: Although the Droid does an excellent job in the Gallery app, it doesn’t fare as well in the Browser app. The Nexus One does poorly in both. [Droid 5: Nexus One 1]
  • Overall Factory Calibration: The intensity scale as well as the white point color temperature on the Droid is very close to standards while the Nexus One is far from. [Droid 6: Nexus One 1]
  • Maximum Brightness or Peak Luminance: At 449 cd/m² for the Droid and just 229 cd/m² for the Nexus One, the winner is clear. [Droid 7: Nexus One 1]
  • Black Level Brightness or Black Luminance: The Nexus One beats almost everything out there due to the use of OLED technology. Black luminance is an almost unmeasurable 0.0035 cd/m². The Droid’s 0.165 cd/m² was also good for a mobile display. [Droid 7: Nexus One 2]
  • Contrast Ratio for Low Ambient Light: Again, the Nexus One beats almost all other displays when it comes to CR, which was 65,415. The Droid’s 1,436 was very good but clearly not better. [Droid 7: Nexus One 3]
  • Screen Reflectance of Ambient Light: The Droid’s 12.1% is average, but the Nexus One’s 15.5% is poor. [Droid 8: Nexus One 3]
  • Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light: A very good showing of 37 for Droid and a very poor showing of 15 for the Nexus One. [Droid 9: Nexus One 3]
  • Dynamic Color and Contrast: Both use them, though the Droid uses dynamic contrast to reduce power consumption of the backlight unit. Again, as mentioned above, the user should be given the option to turn off both of these features. [Droid 9: Nexus One 3]
  • Color Temperature: At 6752° Kelvin, the Droid’s color temperature was very close to the standard D6500. The Nexus One’s 8870° Kelvin was too bluish. [Droid 10: Nexus One 3]
  • White Point Chromaticity: u’=01946 v’=0.4680 is the Droid’s and very close to the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Coordinates. The Nexus One’s u’=0.1871 v’=0.4508 was not as close. [Droid 11: Nexus One 3]
  • Color Gamut: The Nexus One’s color gamut was too large while the Droid’s was just right and about the same as the standard sRGB / Rec.709. [Droid 12: Nexus One 3]
  • Color Saturation: As noted in previous articles the Nexus One over-saturated everything. The Droid, on the other hand, accurately reproduced images, photos and videos. [Droid 13: Nexus One 3]
  • Intensity Scale and Image Contrast: The Nexus One’s intensity scale was very irregular and the contrast was too high. The Droid’s intensity scale was stable resulting in accurate image reproduction. [Droid 14: Nexus One 3]
  • Gamma for Intensity Scale: 1.82-2.55 for the Nexus One, which means it was very irregular. The Droid’s intensity scale was 2.24, very close to the standard Gamma 2.2. [Droid 15: Nexus One 3]
  • Brightness Decrease with 30 Degree Viewing Angle: The Nexus One experienced a 28% decrease to 168 cd/m², much better than the 64% decrease experienced by the Droid. [Droid 15: Nexus One 4]
  • Black Level Increase with 30 degree Viewing Angle: Visually insignificant for the Nexus One. The Droid on the other hand was terrible with a 88% increase to 0.31 cd/m². [Droid 15: Nexus One 5]
  • Contrast Ratio with 30 degree Viewing Angle: The Nexus One’s contrast ratio was through the roof while the Droid’s was just 280, good for text but not so for images. [Droid 15: Nexus One 6]
  • Color Shift with 30 degree Viewing Angle: Δ(‘u’v’)=0.0262, which is 7 times Just Noticeable Color Difference (JNCD) for the Nexus One. The Droid showed Δ(u’v’)=0.0020, 1/2 times JNCD. Basically, the Droid has no noticeable color shift at angles. [Droid 16: Nexus One 6]
  • Power Consumption at Maximum Brightness: 0.91 watts for the Nexus One and 0.87 watts for the Droid. [Droid 17: Nexus One 6]
  • Power Consumption for the same Peak Luminance 229 cd/m²: 0.91 watts for the Nexus One and 0.54 watts for the Droid. [Droid 18: Nexus One 6]
  • Power Consumption for Black: The Nexus One consumes no power when completely black, which is excellent. The Droid consumes less but still a considerable amount at 0.46 watts. [Droid 18: Nexus One 7]

The conclusion is 18 wins for the Droid and 7 for the Nexus One. Motorola’s Droid wins hands down. If you want the very best display on a mobile phone look no further than the Droid. For a more technically thorough analysis, hop on over to DisplayMate’s Google Nexus One versus Motorola Droid Display Shoot-Out.