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Google Nexus One versus Apple iPhone 3GS Display Shoot-Out

 

Dr. Raymond M. Soneira

President, DisplayMate Technologies Corporation

 

Copyright © 1990-2010 by DisplayMate Technologies Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

This article, or any part thereof, may not be copied, reproduced, mirrored, distributed or incorporated

into any other work without the prior written permission of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation

 

 

Series Overview

This is Part III of a comprehensive multi-part article series with in-depth measurements and analysis for the OLED and LCD displays on the Google Nexus One, the Apple iPhone 3GS and the Motorola Droid. It is produced as a collaboration between DisplayBlog and DisplayMate Technologies. We will show you the good, the bad, and also the ugly unfinished rough edges and problems lurking below the surface of each of these displays and display technologies. Each article will be introduced and discussed on DisplayBlog by Jin Kim, followed up with a detailed technical analysis and measurement data on the DisplayMate website. Part I deals with the Google Nexus One, Part II with the Apple iPhone 3GS, and Part III is a detailed point-for-point Shoot-Out comparison between the displays on Nexus One and the iPhone. Part IV deals with the Motorola Droid and Part V is a detailed point-for-point Shoot-Out comparison between the displays on the Nexus One and the Motorola Droid.

 

Introduction

There have been lots of articles and discussions comparing the iPhone, Nexus One and Motorola Droid displays, but no one has yet done anything more than superficial eye ball commentary. This article series is an in-depth scientific analysis of these displays.

 

 

 

The Nexus One display is distinctive and unusual in several respects: it is an Organic LED display, which is an emissive display technology, whereas most mobile devices have an LCD display, which uses a static backlight behind the panel. The screen is 3.7 inches diagonally and has a high-resolution high-density 800x480 pixel display with a screen Aspect Ratio of 1.67.

 

The iPhone has a traditional LCD display with a White LED backlight. The screen is 3.5 inches diagonally and has a medium-resolution medium-density 480x320 pixel display with a screen Aspect Ratio of 1.50, which is lower than the Nexus Oneís 1.67, and also lower than standard widescreen displays, which have an Aspect Ratio of 1.78.

 

The inner details of the display technologies are very interesting, but our concern here is to evaluate the actual image and picture quality that they deliver, so we donít really care how they do it, as long as they do it well. None-the-less with the measurements and analytical test patterns we will learn quite a bit about how they work.

 

Note that we are testing and evaluating the displays on the Nexus One and iPhone with whatever hardware, firmware, OS and software are provided by Google and HTC for the Nexus One and Apple for the iPhone.

 

 

 

 

 

Shoot-Out Overview

First we provide a summary of the Graphical Data from Part I and Part II, next a comprehensive point-for-point color coded Comparison Table, and then finish with Suggestions and Conclusions for Google and Apple.

 

 

Graphical Data

Below is the Graphical Data for the Nexus One and iPhone from Parts I and II.

For details, measurements, explanations and in-depth analysis see Part I devoted to the Google Nexus One and Part II devoted to the Apple iPhone 3GS.

 

Figure 1 shows the Color Gamuts and White Points with the sRGB / Rec.709 Standard for computer images, photos and video.

Figure 2 shows the Intensity Scales for the Nexus One, iPhone 3GS and a Standard Gamma of 2.2.

Figure 3 shows the light spectra for the Nexus One and iPhone 3GS.

 

 

Figure 1.† CIE Chromaticity Diagram with Color Gamuts and White Points

 

Figure 2.† Intensity Scales and Standard Gamma

 

Figure 3.† RGB Spectra for the Nexus One and iPhone 3GS

 

Nexus One and iPhone 3GS Display Shoot-Out Comparison Table

Below we compare the data on the Nexus One and iPhone from Parts I and II.

For details, measurements, explanations and in-depth analysis see Part I devoted to the Google Nexus One and Part II devoted to the Apple iPhone 3GS.

 

Note that we are testing and evaluating the displays on the Nexus One and iPhone with whatever hardware, firmware, OS and software are provided by Google and HTC for the Nexus One and Apple for the iPhone. Google acknowledges the 16-bit color depth and scaling problems that we identified for all 2.1 Android phones including the Nexus One and Motorola Droid. The next major release of the Android OS will fix these issues and provide full 24-bit color and improved scaling.

Click Here to Read the Google and Cooliris Statements.

 

 

Google Nexus One

Apple iPhone 3GS

Comments

Overall Assessment

Unfinished Prototype

Eventually Good

Good But Display

Needs a Makeover

Both displays are good but also have

lots of issues and areas for improvement

Display Resolution

800 x 480 pixels

480 x 320 pixels

No question that higher is better

Displayed Color Depth

16-bits for the Google

Browser and Gallery

18-bits with

dithering to 24-bits

16-bits produces false contouring and

green-magenta tinted gray scales

Image Scaling to Fit the Screen

Poor for Google Gallery

Excellent

Rates freedom from scaling artifacts and noise

Viewing Tests

Gaudy Images

Photos and Videos

have too much color

and too much contrast

Subdued Images

Photos and Videos

have too little color

and too little contrast

The Viewing Tests examined the accuracy of

photographic images by comparing the displays

to a calibrated studio monitor.

Overall Factory Calibration

Poor

Very Good

Rates color and gray scale tracking and accuracy

Poor means RGB primaries irregularly balanced

Maximum Brightness

or Peak Luminance

229 cd/m2

Relatively Low

428 cd/m2

Excellent

Very important for a mobile device

because of the typically high ambient light

Black Level Brightness

or Black Luminance

0.0035 cd/m2

Outstanding

3.1 cd/m2

Very High

Normally important only for low ambient light

But the iPhone value is very high

Contrast Ratio

for Low Ambient Light

65,415

Outstanding

138

Very Low

Only relevant for low ambient light

But the iPhone value is very low

Screen Reflectance

of Ambient Light

15.5 percent

Relatively High

9.2 percent

Very Good

The most important spec for a mobile device

because of the typically high ambient light.

Nexus One reflects 68 percent more than iPhone

Contrast Rating

for High Ambient Light

15

Very Low

47

Excellent

Very important for a mobile device

because of the typically high ambient light

Dynamic Color and Contrast

Yes

No

Best picture quality and accuracy is with No

Should be an option to turn on and off

Color Temperature

8870 degrees Kelvin

Too Blue

6977 degrees Kelvin

Close to D6500

D6500 is the standard for most content and

necessary for accurate color reproduction

White Point Chromaticity

uí=0.1871 ví=0.4508

uí=0.1903 ví=0.4692

CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Coordinates

Color Gamut

Poor - Too Large

See Figure 1

Poor - Too Small

See Figure 1

Standard Color Gamut is needed for

accurate color - too large is also bad

Color Saturation

Too High

Too Low

Colors shouldnít be too strong or too weak

Intensity Scale and Image Contrast

Mostly Too High

and Very Irregular

Too Low

and Concave

The Intensity Scale controls image contrast needed

for accurate image reproduction. See Figure 2

Gamma for Intensity Scale

1.82 to 2.55

Very Irregular

1.90

Too Low

Gamma of 2.2 is the standard and needed for

accurate image reproduction. See Figure 2

Brightness Decrease

with 30 degree Viewing Angle

28 percent decrease

to 166 cd/m2

Large for OLED

63 percent decrease

to 161 cd/m2

Very Large

Screens become less bright when tilted

Both displays are equally bright at 30 degrees

iPhone behavior is typical for LCDs

Black Level Increase

with 30 degree Viewing Angle

Visually Insignificant

Not Measured

19 percent increase

An increase contributes to image wash-out

iPhone behavior is typical for LCDs

Contrast Ratio

with 30 degree Viewing Angle

Extremely High

Not Measured

44

Extremely Low

A measure of screen readability when tilted

Color Shift

with 30 degree Viewing Angle

Δ(uíví) = 0.0262

7 times JNCD

Δ(uíví) = 0.0418

10 times JNCD

JND is a Just Noticeable Color Difference

Power Consumption

at Maximum Brightness

0.91 watts

0.81 watts

Both about 1 watt

Power Consumption for the

same Peak Luminance 229 cd/m2

0.91 watts

0.44 watts

LCD with LED backlight is more efficient

Power Consumption for Black

0 watts

0.81 watts

OLED wins big because it is emissive

 

 

Suggestions and Conclusions:

Below are the suggestions and conclusions for the Nexus One and iPhone from Parts I and II.

DisplayMate Technologies specializes in advanced mathematical display optimizations and precision quantitative and analytical scientific display factory calibrations to deliver outstanding image and picture quality and accuracy while increasing the effective visual Contrast Ratio of the panel and producing a higher calibrated brightness than is achievable with traditional calibration methods. We can also make lower cost displays look almost as good as more expensive higher performance panels. These articles are a brief introductory critical analysis. Our optimizations correct these deficiencies and much more. If you are a display or product manufacturer and want to turn a standard panel into a spectacular one Contact DisplayMate Technologies to learn more.

 

Suggestions for Google:

1.       Eliminate the primitive 16-bit display interface and fix the Browser, Gallery and other applications.

 

2.       The White Point is too blue, lower it to D6500, which will improve color accuracy, slow the aging of the Blue OLED, reduce power consumption, and improve battery run time.

 

3.       Improve the factory display calibration to correct the large color and gray-scale tracking errors and the irregular and non-standard display contrast and Gamma.

 

4.       The color saturation of the display is way too high. You can trade this excess color saturation to boost the screen brightness by adjusting the software color calibration matrices. This will also improve the color accuracy of the display.

 

5.       Take full advantage of the OLED display: the ambient light sensor now just controls the screen brightness. You should also use it to control the gamma, color gamut, color saturation, and edge enhancement so that in low ambient light the display delivers beautiful and accurate image and picture quality, but as the ambient light increases slowly turn up these parameters to counter-balance the washed out appearance of the images in bright ambient light. Also add a display Vivid or Pizzazz control because some people prefer punchy images and pictures, while other people do not.

 

Suggestions for Apple:†

While the displays for the iPhone and iPod Touch were nice in 2007 when they were first introduced, they now lag significantly in terms of what is possible and practical in a mobile display. The iPhone needs a major display makeover!† While OLED will almost certainly overtake LCD, Plasma and most other display technologies in the near future, it is not yet the best performing technology for mobile displays. So if you are able to resist the current pressure for OLEDs, please stick with a nice high-performance, high-resolution, high-contrast, low screen reflectance, 24-bit color depth, standard color gamut LCD for the next generation iPhone.

 

Nexus One Conclusion:† The Nexus One Display Looks Like a Prototype

The Nexus One OLED display has many spectacular qualities, but it is also loaded with lots of rough edges, hasty unfinished beta display drivers and Android software including principal applications like the Browser and Gallery, poorly implemented image processing, poor system integration together with sub-standard factory display calibration. It really looks and behaves like a prototype for a very nice future display, not a finished production display for a world class mobile device that Google markets it to be. It will be interesting to see the degree to which existing units will be corrected and improved with software updates.

 

iPhone Conclusion:† The iPhone needs a Major Display Makeover

In most respects the display on the iPhone does a good to excellent job: it has a bright screen - among the best for screen visibility and readability under high ambient lighting. The screen resolution, while near the low end for current displays, still delivers good readable content. Although higher resolutions add important finesse and fine detail to the images, you canít really use it to make the text and graphics much smaller because that will make them harder to read on the small screen. The small color gamut, low color saturation, and shallow intensity scale are all at least understandable because they result in increased screen brightness and improved battery run time, which are extremely important for a mobile device. The overall factory display calibration is also very good. What is now unacceptable is the incredibly high Black Brightness and incredibly low Contrast Ratio for the iPhone and iPod Touch displays, which detracts significantly from their overall image and picture quality under most ambient lighting conditions. It will be very interesting to see what Apple does with the display in the next generation iPhoneÖ

 

 

For Additional Details, Measurements, Explanations and in-Depth Analysis:

Read Part I devoted to the Google Nexus One and Part II devoted to the Apple iPhone 3GS. Part IV continues with the Motorola Droid and Part V is a detailed point-for-point Shoot-Out comparison between the displays on the Nexus One and the Motorola Droid.

 

 

Special Thanks to Jay Catral of Konica Minolta for visiting the DisplayMate Lab and bringing the CS-2000 Spectroradiometer to measure the Spectra and the very dark Black Luminance of the Nexus One. And Special Thanks to Konica Minolta Sensing for loaning us the CS-2000 and sending Jay Catral.

 

About the Author

Dr. Raymond Soneira is President of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation of Amherst, New Hampshire, which produces video calibration, evaluation, and diagnostic products for consumers, technicians, and manufacturers. See www.displaymate.com. He is a research scientist with a career that spans physics, computer science, and television system design. Dr. Soneira obtained his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Princeton University, spent 5 years as a Long-Term Member of the world famous Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, another 5 years as a Principal Investigator in the Computer Systems Research Laboratory at AT&T Bell Laboratories, and has also designed, tested, and installed color television broadcast equipment for the CBS Television Network Engineering and Development Department. He has authored over 35 research articles in scientific journals in physics and computer science, including Scientific American. If you have any comments or questions about the article, you can contact him at dtso.info@displaymate.com.

 

About DisplayMate Technologies

DisplayMate Technologies specializes in advanced mathematical display optimizations and precision quantitative and analytical scientific display factory calibrations to deliver outstanding image and picture quality and accuracy while increasing the effective visual Contrast Ratio of the panel and producing a higher calibrated brightness than is achievable with traditional calibration methods. We can also make lower cost displays look almost as good as more expensive higher performance panels. These articles are a brief introductory critical analysis. Our optimizations correct these deficiencies and much more. If you are a display or product manufacturer and want to turn a standard panel into a spectacular one Contact DisplayMate Technologies to learn more.

 

Article Links: Google Nexus One OLED Display

Article Links:† Apple iPhone 3GS LCD Display

Article Links:† Motorola Droid LCD Display

 

Article Links:† Nexus One versus iPhone 3GS Display Comparison Shoot-Out

Article Links:† Nexus One versus Motorola Droid Display Comparison Shoot-Out

 

Article Links: Mobile Display Shoot-Out Article Series Overview and Home Page

Article Links:Display Technology Shoot-Out Article Series Overview and Home Page

 

 

Copyright © 1990-2010 by DisplayMate Technologies Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

This article, or any part thereof, may not be copied, reproduced, mirrored, distributed or incorporated

into any other work without the prior written permission of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation

 


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
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