Why The Galaxy Nexus' 720p Screen Might Not Be All It's Cracked Up To Be

FlatpanelsHD put together an interesting analysis of why Samsung's Galaxy Nexus' 4.65-inch, 1280x720 Super AMOLED screen probably isn't comparable to Apple's 326ppi Retina Display despite having a pixel density of 315ppi. The reason: PenTile technology.

FlatpanelsHD points out that the Super AMOLED display the Galaxy Nexus uses is founded on PenTile technology, which uses a two subpixels instead of three to theoretically cut down on power consumption (they call it a "shared subpixel"). Calculating out the total number of subpixels in the Galaxy Nexus and comparing it to the likes of the 800x480 Galaxy S II and the 960x640 iPhone 4, both of which use three subpixels in their displays, along with the 1200x800 Galaxy Note tablet (which uses the same PenTile tech), they found that Nexus display had the same number of subpixels, despite being an inch bigger.

And if you calculate the real pixel density you will find that the Galaxy Nexus is actually closer to a "real" ppi value of 200, which is slightly lower than on the Galaxy S II (that uses a Super AMOLED Plus with RGB pixel structure). Some claim that a PenTile panel needs around 420 ppi to qualify as a Retina display and that is probably also the reason why Retina is nowhere to be found on the specs sheets of neither Galaxy Note nor Galaxy Nexus. If you are keen on a Samsung smartphone you might even find that the screen in the Galaxy S II is better. But the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S still lead the pixel race. Some people say they never notice the PenTile pixel structure but it is just like a stain on a carpet; once you see it, it is hard to disregard.

In general, FlatpanelsHD complains about the blurriness and colour banding that has affected PenTile displays in the past, along with a lack of power efficiency. We emailed Nouvoyance, who created the technology, to see if these gripes are still present in their technology, but we have yet to hear back. In any case, it's just something to consider when you're engaged in an lengthy argument about gadgets with a fellow spec geek. [FlatpanelsHD]



    This is all I heard:

    "Hey, the Galaxy Nexus screen is inferior even though nobody can tell by looking at it and the colors and contrast ratio are better than my iPhone resulting in a better overall look... still iPhone is better I need to point it out to everyone so I can feel better about myself and my iPhone."

      Yeah I hear ya.
      This sounds strikingly similar to a response to a comment I made on here regarding my Australian Nexus S – saying it’s shit because it’s Super LCD, and his grey import was AMOLED. He also went on to say the difference side by side is obvious.

      If you’re holding it in your hand, and it looks good, who gives a shit whether or not theres something out there that’s marginally better? If you can’t tell the difference without them being side by side – why the hell does it matter?

      Yark, might be time to put down the crackpipe and realise that just because someone has an opinion that doesn't match you own, it doesn't mean they're wrong or in this case, a blind Apple zealot. There's nothing wrong with what they're saying, it's just that *you* don't like it.

      Accept the fact that Samsung is in a spec-war and they will do some corner cutting if it means they have a bigger screen to market, sooner.

        No, there is definite bias in the reporting here. instead of saying "Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus‘ 4.65-inch, 1280×720 Super AMOLED screen probably isn’t comparable to Apple’s 326ppi Retina Display", what they should have said is that the "pixel density probably isn't comparable". Until Apple came out with the Retina Display pixel density was never even talked about because it is largely irrelevant. What's more important is contrast and colour and OLED technology beats everything else hands down in those areas. Just put a Retina display side-by-side with a SuperAMOLED and see for yourself.

          Yeah i agree. The article is extremely biased. Almost nobody has even seen a 1280 pentile before at this size. The screens that are being talked about are earlier tech and using much looser pixel grids.

          The screen in this Galaxy Nexus are going to give the Retina a run for its money and likely will look richer and more vivid given its insane contrast ratio.

          Clearly the author doesn't like that and feels his e-peen is threatened.

            No bias, just facts. Display sharpness has only ever been determined by contrast and resolution as defined by pixel density as the number of pixels is irrelevent if the screen size isn't taken into account; Which one's sharper at normal reading distance? a 720p display on a 5" screen or 720p on a 10" screen?
            They just outed Samsung as a spec-monger who hides the lack of real benefits with techno-hype & clever marketing. Wait 'til everyone realises the Galaxy Nexus has to push 30% more pixels with half the GPU power of the Apple A5 or that it's 1.2GHz core delivers lower performance benchmarks than the A5 despite double the RAM and that's without considering the speed difference of binary executable apps on the iPhone vs JAVA runtime on Android which is an order of magnitude slower!
            Its always been the case that a geek and his money are easily parted by a few irrelevent specs but I thought we'd seen through this marketing BS in the PC era.

    And here I was thinking we'd move on from using pentile rubbish.

    That being said it'd be interesting to see how it looks given the overall high resolution. The N1 back in the day looked terrible, but the original Galaxy S was alright.

    Pentile envy?

    I think the high res will save it, plus would this be a 33.3% power saving? Probably not but with a 4.65 inch screen you need all the savings you can get.

    IF you ask me, which I noticed you have not, It's all placebo anyways. Apparently 300ppi is the magic number that people can notice up to, and I'm sure the number probably is around there. but I'd like to see some double blid tests of screens and get people to spot the difference between 250ppi and 350ppi. Also while your at it, spot the diffence of 720p to 1080p on a sub 32" TV and difference between a 5Mpixel photo and 8Mpixel...

    /end rant

      I used to sell cameras and devised a test for my customers to demonstrate that megapixels become irrelevant after a certain point.

      I got a 40MP rendering of Optimus Prime and a high-res DSLR sample photo, and printed them at full resolution (cropped) on 6x4" photo paper. Then I downsized them to 8, 5 and 3MP and labelled the back of each photo with its detail level. I didn't exactly test thousands of people, but it became apparent that customers couldn't reliably tell the difference even when I pointed out which was which and they held the photos up to their faces.

      Being able to fit lots of information on-screen is important, but beyond a certain point pixel density becomes irrelevant next to considerations such as sunlight legibility, colour reproduction/contrast, viewing angle and power usage.

      Acctually, at 6 inches away (about as closes as you can look at something) the number is 500 dpi for the average person and over 800 dpi for people with 20-20 vision. So, unless people never put the screen closer to their faces than 14 inches, this whole "retina display" labeling is technically nonsense. A true retina display (for a handheld device) must have pixels indistinguishable to any person at any distance. To do that, you need a screen with almost 900 pixels-per-inch.

      Also, with a 1080p source and viewing at the proper distance, anyone with good vision will see the difference between 720p and 1080p. The difference in detail is quite noticeable with a true 1080p source.

        "To do that, you need a screen with almost 900 pixels-per-inch."

        ahem... I do recall RGB being 3 sub pixels, so a 300 pixels/inch screen, with 3 sub pixels for each pixel would hit your magic 900 pixels-per-inch number.

    I got a stain on my carpet a week ago, and although small, it shows and now I cant ignore it. So when I read your sentence about the carpet stain, it stung like a cobra :-( Me sad.

      I'm sorry for your loss - but that comment was hillarious, just made my day; thanks!

      bloody hell that's funny, made my day too.. sorry about the loss as well buddy.

    Well it didn't take Giz long to start with the anti-Nexus propaganda.
    Only this week I had a work colleague rabbit on about how 'shit' he thought the SGSII 'Pentile' screen looked compared to the iPhone (ignorant apparently that they don't have a Pentile screen).
    Rather than repeating mantras about 'blurriness', 'graininess' and 'colour banding' take the time to check how Pentile screens actually work. Yes, these problems exist in particular circumstances that are rare in normal usuage (Unless your thing is to view luminance gradients of fully saturated colours).
    I don't read much ranting about how shit Bayer camera sensors are. With Pentile screens the human visual system just does the chroma interpolation not the camera. The resolution is what you percieve it to be.
    There no doubt that Pentile is inferior to a 1:1:1 pixel layout but the difference really only shows in extremes and as always there are pros and cons.
    Most complaints have more in common with 'The King's New Clothes' than a 'stain on the carpet'.

    Looks good to me and with an extra inch will anyone actually say "I can see better on my iPhone" not to mention guerrilla glass and the lack of it in the iPhone. If you've seen the drop tests you will know that iPhone screens will shatter pretty easily while Samsung screens don't even scratch. Retina Display is at the bottom of things i look for in a screen. Size, resolution, colour and contrast ratio and resistance to scratches is all I care about. If the article writer said this to me I would slap them and say "get real".

      You don't care about Retina Display but you care about resolution? Lawl.

    oh well, still, the iPhone's a piece of crap

    Fannnnnnnnnnbooooooooooooooooyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Ok, even if the iPhone screen is better on paper, who cares? The human eye couldn't care less and we all know the Galaxy Nexus screen is superior.

      If you weren't blind as fuck or have actually seen one IRL, you would be able to tell the iPhone's IPS screen is far superior and not some overly saturated and overly contrasted piece of crap.

        If you weren't blind as fuck or have actually seen one IRL, you would be able to tell the Galaxy Nexus's Super Amoled HD screen is far superior and not some 15 years old IPS LCD with such small contrast ratio piece of crap

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