Samsung's Galaxy S4 powerhouse
The Samsung Galaxy S4 may have a 5-inch screen with a killer 1080p HD resolution, but that doesn't tell you as much about its display quality as you might think.
That's because, as any display guru (like CNET's David Katzmaier) will tell you, a screen's ultimate rating spans resolution and pixel density, sure, but also color reproduction and accuracy, total brightness, viewing angles, and reflectance.
The screen material technology also plays a huge role; when it comes to smartphones, LCD displays make up the lion's share of manufacturers' choice, with Samsung at the forefront of OLED (or AMOLED) research.
According to DisplayMate, a company that tests a wide range of displays for public and private studies, Samsung has made huge improvements in the Galaxy S4's screen quality over last year's Galaxy S3.
In a shoot-out, DisplayMate's lab tools measured a 25 percent boost in manual screen brightness settings (and a 68 percent bump if you use automatic mode,) and a 20 percent increase in power efficacy.
Although some may rant and rail against Samsung's use of PenTile in its pixel and sub-pixel makeup, DisplayMate maintains that the Galaxy S4's PenTile looks sharp in the majority of visual situations.
Likewise, a highly reflective, mirroring screen is a known Samsung weak spot, though the Galaxy S4 improves over the Galaxy S3, according the report.
I, too, noticed that the screen looked dimmer than LCD-screened competitors such as the HTC One and the iPhone 5, and a high level of reflectance sometimes got in the way of indoor and outdoor viewing. Overall though, Samsung has carried on its reputation for delivering rich, saturated displays on its mobile phones, and the technology appears to be getting better and better.
CNET plans to subject the Galaxy S4 to our own battery of display tests in due time, just as we did for the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2.