Tablet and Smartphone Displays Under Bright Ambient
Master Photo Grid for Viewing Screen Shots of all the
Apple iPad 2 – Amazon
Kindle Fire – Motorola Xoom – Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Apple iPhone 4 – HTC
Desire – Motorola Droid X – Nokia Lumia 900 – Samsung Galaxy S
Dr. Raymond M. Soneira
President, DisplayMate Technologies
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DisplayMate Technologies Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
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visual performance and viewability of Tablet and Smartphone displays in high
Ambient Lighting is a specification that most consumers are not yet aware of
or concerned about. Unfortunately, the same appears to be true for many of
the manufacturers as well. While the displays all look about the same in the
dark, as the Ambient Lighting levels increase, particularly outdoors, there
are dramatic differences in screen viewability, which depend on a combination
of each display’s inherent screen Brightness and screen Reflectance. It’s important
because mobile devices are seldom used in the dark…
Master Photo Grid below visually demonstrates the differences in Tablet and
Smartphone display screen viewability over a very wide range of Ambient
Lighting levels from Absolute Darkness up through very bright Sunlight. We
photographed 4 Tablets and 5 Smartphones inside an Integrating Hemisphere
using a powerful light source that uniformly illuminates the displays from
all directions from 0 lux (Absolute Darkness) up through 40,000 lux (Indirect Sunlight), which is very bright. Direct
Sunlight at noon is a blinding 100,000 lux.
Photo Grid combines the Screen Shots from our Tablet
Displays Under Bright Ambient Lighting Shoot-Out and Smartphone
Displays Under Bright Ambient Lighting Shoot-Out articles in a compact
format that makes visual comparisons and spotting trends very easy. A good
way to see all of the Screen Shots at once without the need for horizontal
scrolling is with a widescreen display that has at least 1920 pixels. Better
yet, the iPad, iPhone, Windows Phones, and most Android Tablets and
Smartphones will display all (or almost all) of the 72 Screen Shots on a
single page in Portrait mode – you may need to pinch in the image to see a
single screen view. In some cases you may need to double-tap the article text
for optimum reading. This is the best way to see the large scale trends and
differences in how the Tablet and Smartphone displays degrade as the Ambient
Lighting levels increase.
Master Photo Grid below includes Screen Shots from many of the Tablets and
Smartphones in our Mobile
Display Technology Shoot-Out article series. For more information on how
Ambient Lighting affects the displays read the Results
Highlights for Tablets or the Results
Highlights for Smartphones. The visual results from the Screen Shots
agree very well with the Lab measured DisplayMate Contrast
Rating for High Ambient Light for Tablets and the Contrast
Rating for High Ambient Light for Smartphones. These Lab results are
summarized in the Table below.
Trends to Notice: There are three major trends to follow in the Screen
Shots as the Ambient Lighting levels increase:
The progressive increase in the brightness of what is supposed to be a black background.
The progressive loss of color saturation for the different intensity steps.
The progressive fading and disappearance of the dimmer intensity steps.
The Winner: The DisplayMate Contrast Rating for High
Ambient Light for the displays ranges from a low of 15 (HTC Desire) to
a high of 90 (Nokia Lumia 900). From both the Lab Measurements and the Screen
Shot Viewing Tests (below) the top performing device for display viewability
under Bright Ambient Lighting is the Nokia Lumia
900. This results from a combination of its high screen Brightness
and low screen Reflectance, which Nokia calls ClearBlack
technology. The Samsung Galaxy S and Apple iPhone 4 are tied for second
place. The best Tablets all performed a notch below the Smartphones – the
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was the leader, with the iPad 2 in second place. The new iPad (not included
below) performs better than the iPad 2 and just behind the Galaxy Tab
10.1. The other Smartphones and Tablets performed well below these top models
– ALL manufacturers need to pay much more attention to their display
performance in high Ambient Lighting because that is frequently how they are
used. The highly touted and advertised display Contrast
Ratio applies only to Absolute Darkness, which makes it pretty much
irrelevant for mobile devices. Note that we plan on including the Lumia 900
in one of our upcoming Smartphone Shoot-Outs.
The Master Photo Grid has 4 Tablets and 5 Smartphones arranged vertically
– with the best performing units listed top to bottom by category.
There are Screen Shots for 8 Ambient Light Levels from 0 lux
(Absolute Darkness) to 40,000 lux (Indirect Outdoor Sunlight) arranged
The visual Screen Shots agree well with the Lab Measurements.
The Lab Measurements for each Tablet and Smartphone are listed
on the left for each device:
CR HAL is the DisplayMate Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light – which is based on
the measured Screen Brightness and Screen Reflectance.
Below CR HAL is the Peak White display Brightness (Luminance) in
cd/m2. Both can vary if the display has Dynamic Brightness
or Dynamic Contrast.
The values listed are for the test image shown below. The next R
= entry provides the measured Screen Reflectance in percent.
background, in-depth explanations and analysis be sure to read the complete