Editors' note: If you've already read "Battle Royale: Five smartphones face off," then you may experience some deja vu when reading this article. We've used the same tests and presented the article in the same style. Only the phones in question and the details of their performance have changed.
A few months ago in my never-ending pursuit of pain and sadness, I volunteered to test the display quality of five of the most popular smartphones at that time. Using DisplayMate Multimedia Edition for Mobile Displays, I put each phone through a battery of tests and lost a couple of weekends in the process.
With the recent release of the iPhone 4, as well as the hype that's been generated by the "Retina Display," now's the best time to determine just how good the display really is. I've decided to compare the iPhone 4's screen with only two others: the winner of the last roundup, the Motorola Droid, and relative newcomer the HTC Evo 4G. The Evo was chosen because of its popularity and relatively gigantic screen.
Like last time, we used three different types of tests to evaluate each phone:
Scientific measurements: We used the Konica Minolta CS-200 ChromaMeter to test the maximum brightness, black level, and contrast ratio of each phone and reported numbers for each of these three tests.
Test pattern screens: We used several DisplayMate Mobile test patterns to test for color-tracking errors, 24-bit color, and font legibility, among others.
Real-world: Finally, we conducted real-world anecdotal testing using 3D games, photos, and a little tool I like to call "the sun" to test the diffuse reflectance of each display.
All test screens were viewed within each phone's native gallery application. Some phones may handle pictures differently--and even improve them to some extent--outside the application. That said, we believe that testing within the respective gallery applications is still a viable test, as this is where most users will view pictures on their phones.
Note: Since we conducted our first round of tests, the Motorola Droid has received some noteworthy changes. When the Motorola Droid is upgraded to version 2.1, the Gallery (the principal image viewer for the phone) is downgraded to 16-bit color from its original full 24-bit color in version 2.0. Fortunately, version 2.1 of the Android Browser on the Droid still delivers full 24-bit color. Presumably these errors will be fixed in a future software upgrade, so the Droid will at some point return to its original, excellent 24-bit color. The tests here reflect the Droid in its 2.1 incarnation.
In order to diminish potential repetition, I'll dive right into the details of how each phone performed; if you'd like to know more about our tests, you can binge on nerdy details in our "How we tested" section at the bottom of this article. Please note that this is an evaluation of each phone's screen performance and nothing else. Check out the full reviews of these phones to determine which is right for you. Also, DisplayMate recently conducted a more technically focused evaluation of the Motorola Droid's screen that I recommend you check out.
The bottom line… Read more