Samsung Galaxy S III display outdoes iPhone 5's, teardown reveals

IHS iSuppli analyst says differences likely not enough to affect buying decisions

Samsung Galaxy S III's display is thinner and has a greater range of colors than that of the Apple iPhone 5, according to a IHS iSuppli teardown analysis.

But IHS iSuppli analyst Vinita Jakhanwal noted that the differences between the displays are fairly subtle and likely doesn't matter to users.

Jakhanwal said Apple chooses features in products like the iPhone 5 that are designed to yield profits and "deliver a superior customer experience, rather than to provide technology for technology's sake."

The iSuppli teardown revealed that the iPhone 5 display has a 1.5 mm thickness, while the Galaxy S III is only 1.1 mm. Also, the iPhone 5 displays 72% of the colors in the NTSC (National Television System Committee) standard, while the Galaxy S III reaches 100% of those colors.

Overall, the iPhone 5 is 1 millimeter thinner than the Galaxy S III, which IHS said was most likely due to a fatter Galaxy S III battery.

Apple used in-cell technology in the iPhone 5 LCD display.

The in-cell technology eliminates the standalone touch panel layers used in the iPhone 4S, making the iPhone 5 18% thinner than its predecessor.

The in-cell technology's elimination of the separate touch overlay layer allows more light to emit from the display without added refraction and glare from added touch layers, IHS said. As a result the iPhone 5's display provides a "more vibrant and crisper image with improved color saturation than the iPhone 4S."

"The lower color gamut measurement (72% of the NTSC standard compared to the Galaxy S III's fully meeting the standard) may not necessarily make the iPhone 5 display look worse than the Galaxy S III," IHS noted.

The iPhone 5 provide more accurate and realistic colors and contrasts as a result of better calibration, higher brightness and superior power efficiency of the display, it said.

Jakhanwal noted that some reviewers of the Galaxy S III have found that its colors look "oversaturated and unrealistic."

IHS said that the Galaxy S III uses an active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) display in contrast to the low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) of the iPhone 5.

AMOLEDs don't use a backlight, and potentially have better power efficiency than LCD's, IHS said.

Still IHS said a smartphone's battery life is dependent on many factors other than the display's power consumption, and didn't draw any conclusions about power consumption in either of the smartphone displays studied.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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