iPhone 5 trumps Galaxy S3 in display battle

The iPhone 5 sold more than five million handsets in its first three days on the market. But how does the much-lauded 4in screen hold up to its predecessors or competitor Samsung Galaxy S3?

DisplayMate conducted a flagship smartphone shoot-out, comparing the three devices to see just how far display technology has come.

"We take display quality very seriously," DisplayMate president Dr. Raymond Soneira wrote in the shoot-out results. The team conducted side-by-side comparisons based on detailed measurements and viewing tests, and concluded that the iPhone 5 has "a true state-of-the-art accurate display," according to the site. Though not perfect, DisplayMate dubbed Apple's new screen the best smartphone display it has seen to date.

In almost every category – except brightness decrease and viewing angle – research pointed to a much improved iPhone 5 screen, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Aside from the 18 per cent increase in screen area, DisplayMate touted three major enhancements.

Screen reflectance has decreased substantially, the team said, adding that the new phone has one of the lowest reflectance values measured on any mobile device. It also sports the highest contrast rating for high ambient light, which means image colours and contrast won't appear washed out while outdoors.

"Apple has uncharacteristically understated how much better the display is on the iPhone 5," Soneira wrote.

The colour quality and accuracy have also improved substantially, adding a calibration upgrade similar to the new iPad, according to DisplayMate.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S3's OLED displays – different from the LCDs used by Apple and other smartphone makers – have a number of handicaps, including lower brightness, a distorted and lopsided colour gamut, and lower power efficiency.

Soneira and his team applauded Samsung's work on developing the newer OLED technology, but suggested using a smaller size display (the Galaxy S3 sports a 4.8in screen) and adding a larger battery to increase screen brightness and running time. Mostly, DisplayMate begged for the phone maker to calibrate its displays, so colours display more accurately.

The researchers advised Apple to change the iPhone 5's intensity scale be to match that of the new iPad. Also, Soneira suggested using a sort of colour saturation and image contrast equaliser, to let each user adjust the display to their own preferences.