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IHS: Galaxy S III display better than iPhone 5

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Galaxy S III? iPhone 5? display? NTSC? LCD?

According to IHS, the addition of in-cell touch technology has improved the display of iPhone 5, but can't still measure up to the Galaxy S III when it comes to screen thinness and colour gamut. The iPhone 5's display is 1.5mm thick, a 0.6mm reduction from 2.1mm for the iPhone 4S. Meanwhile, the colour gamut of the iPhone 5 has risen to 72 per cent of the NTSC standard, compared to 50 per cent for the 4S.

Even so, this falls short of the Samsung's flagship Galaxy S III, which sports a display with a thickness of just 1.1mm and a colour gamut with full 100 per cent NTSC.

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Figure 1: Comparative Smartphone Device and Display Thickness (in Millimeters)
Source: IHS iSuppli.

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Figure 2: Comparative Smartphone Display Size and Colour Gamut
Source: IHS iSuppli.

"As the first product with in-cell touch, the iPhone 5 represents a major achievement, improving the image quality and reducing the thickness of the smartphone compared to previous models," said Vinita Jakhanwal, director for small & medium displays at IHS. "And although the iPhone 5 still trails the Galaxy S III in the display specs race, the iPhone 5 overall remains thinner than the Galaxy S III, and its display colour gamut is more than sufficient for most users. Such improvements on the iPhone 5 are consistent with Apple's philosophy of selecting features designed to yield profitable products that deliver a superior customer experience, rather than of providing technology for technology's sake."

In-cell technology eliminates the stand-alone touch panel layers used in most smartphones and instead integrates the touch sensors into the liquid crystal of the LCD stack, sharing common electrodes and transistors. The technology can reduce display module thickness by about 0.5mm on average, reducing total smartphone thickness.

The iPhone 5 is 18 per cent thinner than the 4S, at a total of 7.6mm, noted IHS. While the display is thicker than for the Samsung Galaxy III, the iPhone 5 as a whole is 1mm thinner than the Galaxy S III, which measures 8.6mm in total. The Galaxy S III's greater girth is due to other factors separate from the display, most likely the thickness of the battery.

Beyond thinning the display, in-cell's elimination of the separate touch overlay layer allows more light to emit from the display without the intrusion of added refraction and glare of the additional touch layers. This helps the new display to enjoy a more vibrant and crisper image with improved colour saturation than iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 5's display still falls short of the NTSC colour gamut mark achieved by the Galaxy III. However, from a user's perspective, the lower colour gamut measurement may not necessarily make the iPhone 5 display look worse than the Galaxy III. More accurate and realistic representation of image colour and contrasts may be a result of better calibration, higher brightness and superior power efficiency of the display.

"Some user reviews indicate that colours presented on the Galaxy S III actually can look oversaturated and unrealistic," Jakhanwal said. "While it may be interesting to compare the display specifications for the two phones, the actual front-of-screen viewing experience could diverge for different users."

The Galaxy III employs an active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) display, in contrast to the low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) LCD used in the iPhone 5.

As AMOLEDs don't use a backlight unit, they potentially have better power efficiency than LCDs. However, there are concerns about differential ageing of organic materials, which affects OLED lifetime and power efficiency. And although display power consumption is important, overall battery life of the device will still be dependent on many other factors.

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