iPhone 5 Display vs. iPhone 4 Display vs. Samsung Galaxy S III Display

DisplayMate Technologies president Dr. Raymond Soneira on the iPhone 5 display:

We’ll examine the iPhone 5 display in detail below, but here are the Highlights: it is the Brightest Smartphone we have tested in the Shoot-Out series, it has one of the lowest screen Reflectance values we have ever measured, it has the highest Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light for any Mobile device we have ever tested, and it’s Color Gamut and Factory Calibration are second only to the new iPad. What are the downsides? The White Point is still somewhat too blue like most Smartphones, and at Maximum Brightness it has a shorter Running Time than the iPhone 4, which is not surprising since it has a larger screen and a larger Color Gamut but roughly the same capacity battery.

Regarding the Samsung Galaxy S III display:

We’ll examine the OLED Galaxy S III display in detail below, but here are the Highlights: the Brightness is about half of the iPhone 5 due to power limits from the lower power efficiency of OLEDs and concerns regarding premature OLED aging. The Color Gamut is not only much larger than the Standard Color Gamut, which leads to distorted and exaggerated colors, but the Color Gamut is quite lopsided, with Green being a lot more saturated than Red or Blue, which adds a Green color caste to many images. Samsung has not bothered to correct or calibrate their display colors to bring them into closer agreement with the Standard sRGB / Rec.709 Color Gamut, so many images appear over saturated and gaudy. Running Time on battery is less than the iPhone 5 due to the lower power efficiency of OLEDs, even given that the Galaxy S III has a much larger battery capacity and much lower Brightness.

There’s a ton of technical data that shows the iPhone 5 display comes out on top.

iPhone 5 Display vs. iPhone 4 Display

Retinal neuroscientist and photographer Bryan Jones:

The image above gives you some idea for the two displays, but what is more difficult to appreciate from these 2D images is that the pixels in the iPhone 5 are closer to the surface of the glass than in the iPhone 4. This is because Apple has integrated the touch sensor into the display and not layered it on top of the glass.

Getting rid of an optical layer between the pixels and our eyes makes for a better visual experience. Apple did that by using an in-cell touch LCD in the iPhone 5.

It turns out that the pixels in the iPhone 5 are *precisely* the same size as the iPhone 4 pixels, but the iPhone 5 pixels have better color saturation with more contrast, seen particularly in the blue pixels.

Improving sub-pixel saturation is not difficult, but doing that while keeping the same level of display brightness is. An improved optical stack in the backlight unit, LEDs that are more energy efficient, a bigger battery, etc. are all required to improve color saturation and maintain the same brightness level.

Update 2012.09.26: Chris Heinonen, AnandTech:

Wrapping up, the iPhone 5 display is a whole quantum leap better than the display on the iPhone 4. Contrast levels and light output have both been increased, and color performance is astonishing. The full sRGB gamut is present here, and color errors are remarkably low for a even a high end desktop display. While many were hoping for a move to OLED or some other screen innovation, this really is a huge step up that is very easy to quantify. To put this in perspective, in the past few years I’ve reviewed probably 30-40 different displays, from PC monitors, to TVs to projectors. Not a single one, out of the box, can put up the Gretag Macbeth dE numbers that the iPhone can, and perhaps one projector (which listed for $20,000) can approach the grayscale and color accuracy out of the box.

The best display, period. Impressive.

How Corning Created Gorilla Glass

Bryan Gardiner, Wired:

Corning’s one fusion-capable factory in the US is in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. In early 2007, that plant’s seven 15-foot-tall tanks were going full blast, each churning out more than 1,000 pounds per hour of sold-out LCD glass for TV panels. One tank could meet Apple’s initial request. But first the old Chemcor compositions had to be reformulated. The glass not only needed to be 1.3 mm now, it also had to have better visual characteristics than, say, a pane in a telephone booth. Ellison and his team had six weeks to nail it. To be compatible with the fusion process, the glass also needed to be extra stretchy, like chewing gum, at a fairly low temperature. The problem was, anything you do to increase a glass’s gooeyness also tends to make it substantially more difficult to melt. By simultaneously altering seven individual parts of the composition—including changing the levels of several oxides and adding one new secret ingredient—the compositional scientists found they were able to ramp up the viscosity while also producing a finely tuned glass capable of higher compressive stress and faster ion exchange. The tank started in May 2007. By June, it had produced enough Gorilla Glass to cover seven football fields.

A great read.

When Did Small Phones Become Crappy Phones?

via John Gruber. Sam Biddle, Gizmodo:

There was a time when you could buy something that was compact, fast, and beautiful. That time is over. “Smaller” is just a polite way to say “here’s the bad version for cheap people.” And that’s really awful.

A large billfold is not my style; I am happy my iPhone 4S is about the size of my credit card wallet.

iPhone 5

The name is everything and the iPhone 5 got off to a terrible start. I really thought Apple would call it The New iPhone. The name iPhone 5 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The 4 in iPhone 4 meant the fourth iteration, 4S meant a faster 4, 3G meant it took advantage of 3G networks, and 3GS meant a faster 3G. What does the 5 in iPhone 5 mean? 5 doesn’t mean the fifth iteration because it’s actually the sixth. It’s not 5G. I can’t think of anything 5 might mean other than it’s the number after 4. The 5 in iPhone 5 is almost meaningless. Why use it.

What the heck is 1136×640? I understand how Apple got there, but the result is horrible. The original iPhone started with a 3:2 3.5-inch 480×320 LCD. Apple stuck with it through the iPhone 3GS and then with the iPhone 4 the pixels were doubled horizontally and vertically to 960×640 and birthed the retina display, a display where individual pixels can’t be distinguished at the distance most folks look at the display. The retina display visual experience is wonderful. Apple stuck with a 3:2 aspect ratio and doubling the pixels was genius because old apps looked the same on the iPhone retina display and apps that took advantage of the retina display looked absolutely brilliant. Everything was the same when it came the visual experience, but everything was doubly clear.

But now we have an iPhone with a 16:9 aspect ratio. To me 16:9 = HD video. And HD means 1280×720 or 1920×1080. With 1136×640 most apps will need to be rewritten anyway. Why not just go whole hog, embrace a worldwide display standard, and use a 1280×720 pixel format? Did Apple focus the iPhone to work better with 16:9 video with the 5? I think so. Then it should have used 1280×720. Heck, Apple could’ve claimed the iPhone 5 the king of retina with a ppi of 367. 1136×640 is just wonky.

And why 4 inches? To keep the same pixel width of 640, and the same 326-ppi resolution? If making things easy for developers was an important consideration then Apple didn’t do very well because almost all apps will need to be rewritten to take full advantage of the change in aspect ratio and pixel format. Why not 4.5 inches? If bigger is better why not a little bigger? Everyone else is doing it. Ah yes, Apple didn’t want to make it too big because it didn’t want to make the experience of using the iPhone too uncomfortable. One hand operation will be difficult for most, but it would have been almost impossible if it was bigger than 4 inches. Difficult is better than almost impossible, I guess.

Joshua Topolsky:

As you may have heard, Apple has increased the size of the display on the iPhone 5 to 4 inches (at an 1136 x 640 resolution), as opposed to the 3.5-inch screens that have dominated every other model in the line. Prior to the release of the new phone, there were many people who argued that the 3.5-inch display was scientifically perfect — having been engineered to match the average reach of a thumb — and a larger screen would create all sorts of usability problems. Undoubtedly those poor individuals are undergoing surgery as we speak in the hopes that they may someday be able to reach the upper left corner of the iPhone 5’s screen with their right-hand thumb. I can tell you I’ve had no such troubles, but then again I have huge, monster-like hands.

I was and still am one of those many people who argued and argue the 3:2 3.5-inch display was and is ideal for people with average hands, not for people with monster-like hands, to whom I would recommend the Samsung Galaxy Note or the LG Optimus Vu. Bigger is not always better and when the smartphone becomes too big to operate with one hand that’s when bigger has become too big. The 4-inch 16:9 display on the iPhone 5 is too big for a great majority of folks who use smartphones. I just saw the Apple’s Thumbs iPhone 5 ad explaining how perfectly sized the 4-inch 16:9 LCD is. The only problem is the dude’s hand is probably much larger than your average hand. The existence of an ad like this suggests Apple marketing is responding to what I think is a valid complaint: The iPhone 5 is too big to use it like you did with the iPhone, iPhone 3G/3GS, iPhone 4/4S. When did it become okay to sacrifice usability for the sake of making something bigger? Did Samsung’s gigantic Galaxy smartphones and their successes have anything to do with it? I’m more than a bit disappointed because it seems Apple went from 3.5 inches to 4.0 inches without a good reason. It went from 3:2 to 16:9 without a good reason. And it went from 960×640 to 1136×640 without a good reason. This is what I would have liked in The New iPhone: everything in the iPhone 5 but with a 3:2 3.5-inch 960×640 in-cell touch LCD. Well… not everything, but if given the choice I would have preferred a thinner, lighter iPhone 4S with a better display, camera, and LTE.

Update 2012.09.25: MacRumors member Leotno reports of light leakage, not from the display, but from the chassis.

Kindle Fire HD: LG Display LD070WX3-SL01

iFixit: The Kindle Fire HD sports a 7-inch 1280×800 IPS LCD and according to a teardown reveals it is sourced from LGD with the model number LD070WX3-SL01. Here are the specs:

  • Panel Type: a-Si 6-bit WLED edge-lit TFT LCD
  • Sub-Pixel: RGB
  • Pixel Pitch: 0.117×0.117 mm
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:10
  • Display Mode: Normally black
  • Brightness: 450 nits (typical)
  • Contrast Ratio: 800:1 (typical)
  • Colors: 16.7 million (6-bit + Hi-FRC)
  • Response Time: 50 ms (max, Tr+Td)
  • Viewing Angles: 170/170 (CR≥10)
  • Video Signal Interface: 34-pin MIPI (4 data lanes), Panasonic AXT634124
  • Input Voltage: 3.3 V
  • Input Current: 151.5 mA
  • Power Consumption: 0.50 W
  • Operating Temperature: -10 to 60°C
  • Storage Temperature: -20 to 70°C
  • Weight: 85 grams
  • Display Active Area: 94.20×150.7 mm
  • Dimensions: 104.32×161.67×2.12 mm

The cover glass and LCD are fused together, which improves the viewing experience by eliminating the air gap between the two and reducing light refractions. The display sub-assembly is also thinner allowing for an overall thinner tablet. The only downside is it’ll be more expensive to replace, but with a price of US$199 I think most will opt to buy a new one and let the pros handle the fixing and refurbishing.

HP: Apple Knock-Offs as Design Innovation

Nathan Ingraham, The Verge:

Whitman even said that “Apple taught us that design really matters,” and feels that HP has “made a lot of progress” with its new lineup. While the company may have an attractive line of new products that will help show off Windows 8 when it launches this fall, it’s hard to look at HP’s latest as anything but excessively Apple-inspired.

Stacy Wolff has been unifying the look and feel of HP products since the beginning of this year. Design unification? Yes, but design innovation is an altogether different story.