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A Closer Look At The Samsung Galaxy S7's Display Tech: The BEST Smartphone Display. Period

Know Your Mobile logo Know Your Mobile 26-02-2016 Know Your Mobile

A big deal for many, if not most, smartphone users is a phone's display. After all, this is what you spend most of your time looking at and poking when it comes to interacting with your mobile device. Display tech has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, but Samsung still has something rather special about the kind of panels it delivers, such as those aboard the new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge flagships.

For one thing, the firm is one of the few that regularly uses Super AMOLED technology, as compared to IPS LCD, OLED is relatively expensive and laborious to produce. On top of that, of course, you have the signature edge display implementation with a curvature along the sides of the phone. This isn't totally unique, because we've seen curved displays on the likes of the LG G Flex, amongst others, but still, it's not the most common feature in the mobile space.

To recap, the basic specs that you'll see everywhere are as follows:

Samsung Galaxy S7

5.1in Super AMOLED capacitive multi-touch display (72.1% screen-to-body ratio)2560 x 1440 pixel QHD resolution577 pixels-per-inch (ppi) pixel density16 million coloursCorning Gorilla GlassAlways On Display (AOD) functionality

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

5.5in Super AMOLED capacitive multi-touch edge display (76.1% screen-to-body ratio)2560 x 1440 pixel QHD resolution534 pixels-per-inch (ppi) pixel density16 million coloursCorning Gorilla GlassAlways On Display (AOD) functionality

Brightness

A key improvement over Samsung's previous display generation relates to the brightness. The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge maximum brightness has been enhanced by 24% over the Galaxy S6 series. Not only does this improve the display experience generally, but in particular means the Galaxy S7 series performs much better in bright conditions such as direct sunlight - a common problem area for smartphones as direct ambient light has a tendency to wash out the display and cause reflections.

© Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited

Contrast has also been improved significantly, but the really excellent thing here, according to analysis by reputable test site DisplayMate, is the Automatic Brightness feature. Automatic Brightness is not a new feature on smartphones by any means, but normally it is so poorly implemented as to render it somewhat redundant - for whatever reason, most phones seem unable to properly measure the ambient light and adjust the display brightness sensibly in accordance with it, selecting settings that are too dim or too bright for a given scenario. However, the Galaxy S7 series seems to have nailed this.

The Galaxy S7 actually features a Personalised Automatic Brightness Control, which essentially learns how you like to set the brightness yourself in certain lighting conditions, and then adapts automatically when they occur. It also fine tunes this based on ambient light as well - and something important to note, because Samsung is aware of how crap other forms of automatic brightness can be; resulting in users often just jamming the phone on full and turning auto off, thus draining the battery more than necessary; it has tweaked things so that the very brightest setting can only be achieved via Automatic Brightness. This maximum brightness is only really needed in high ambient light, but cranks things up to 855 nits - one of the very brightest displays on the market.

"As a result of its high Brightness and low Reflectance, the Galaxy S7 has a Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light that ranges from 119 to186," says DisplayMate, "also the highest that we have ever measured for a Smartphone display."

Always On Display (AOD)

Samsung made a bit of a fuss over the introduction of its Always On Display, however, it should be noted this isn't exactly a new feature. OLED's ability to selectively power-on only certain pixels when in a standby state, while keeping the rest blank (and therefore black, and not draining any power) has been known about for a while and we've seen it in a few handsets from Nokia/Microsoft and Samsung's own Galaxy Note edge, amongst others. It is a welcome addition though, as it is useful for continually displaying handy info you might need at a glance - like the time, date, or notifications. 

© Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited

However, for the Galaxy S7 Samsung has not taken a lazy approach here, continuing on from the automatic brightness, the AOD also detects ambient light and toggles between daytime and night-time modes to keep things as efficient and power-friendly as possible, and will even detect when it is face-down, in a bag, or in your pocket so it can switch the feature off temporarily.

Sunglasses Friendly

Another cool thing is that the Galaxy S7 series works with polarized sunglasses lenses. As you may know, polarized sunglasses offer better protection from sunlight and UV rays and are quite common these days. However, smartphone displays usually emit polarized light, which when viewed through polarized sunglasses results in a much dimmer picture, sometimes impossible to read depending on the angle of the display's polarizer.

Here's the lowdown from DisplayMate:

"The ideal solution is to set the polarizer angle to 45 degrees so that the display is equally bright in both landscape and portrait orientations – unfortunately many LCD technologies can’t do that. OLED displays don’t emit polarized light, however, all of the Galaxy OLED displays (including the S6, S7, and Note 5) include a polarizer (as part of a Quarter Wave Plate) to significantly reduce screen Reflectance of ambient light, and… it’s oriented at the ideal 45 degree angle so you can watch the OLED screen with polarized sunglasses in both the portrait and landscape orientations!"

Sharpest Enhanced QHD Resolution

The Galaxy S7 implements Diamond Pixels in its QHD resolution display (2560x1440 pixels/2.5K) at 3.7 megapixels - in short, there isn't any higher resolution in the smartphone space right now - but also uses Sub-Pixel Rendering; that's where red, green and blue (RGB) Sub-Pixels are independently rendered rather than as blocks of mixed Sub-Pixels, which enhances sharpness even further by only using the pixels required for the image instead of a whole cluster. This basically means there's less interference to the image.

© Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited

The use of Diamond Pixels is something unique to Samsung - the RGB Sub-Pixels are sized differently depending on light emission efficiency. Blue is the biggest (because lowest efficiency), followed by Red, then Green. The Blue and Red Sub-Pixels are also diamond shaped instead of the usual line or square, and are arranged in a 45-degree symmetrical layout. The long and the short of it is this helps rendering vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines (as you might find in text fonts or app icons, for example) more clearly as there is less aliasing and artifacting at the edges of an image.

What all this means is that the Galaxy S7 display can be matched by another display in terms of pixels-per-inch, but the unique Sub-Pixel layout and other supplementary technologies means the eye sees it as much as three times sharper.

Screen Modes

It's not something you see very often in smartphones, but Samsung has included a selection of display modes with different colour gamuts and saturation configurations, which means users can set a mode to their liking, or to specific use-functionality or ambient conditions - normally you just have to get along with the factory default and a one-size fits all approach. The Galaxy S7 features four modes; Adaptive Display, AMOLED Photo, AMOLED Cinema, and Basic Screen Mode.

Basic Screen Mode uses the industry standard sRGB/Rec.709 colour gamut which is currently used for producing pretty much every piece of consumer content - films, TV, apps, games, you name it. However, again, Samsung has not been lazy here and in terms of colour accuracy DisplayMate's findings reveal a 101% "near perfect" colour accuracy. Basically this is the most colour accurate display available virtually anywhere (and that includes devices that aren't phones, such as TVs and monitors).

The default for the Galaxy S7 is the Adaptive Display Mode, which features a wide colour gamut and, as the name suggests, has built-in real-time adaptive capabilities to adjust the saturation, colour gamut and white balance to try to achieve the best arrangement for any given content displayed on the screen at the time - that's relative to the content on screen but also the ambient light (both colour and brightness) around the phone.

This is basically Samsung's signature display setup which is generally recognised as being heavily saturated - and that's because it is, around 131% of the standard sRGB/Rec.709 colour gamut, in fact. It's not to everyone's tastes, but does have a practical purpose in that this does make viewing content in higher ambient light much clearer and prevents it from washing out.

The AMOLED Photo Mode is pretty much tailored for use with content from premium digital cameras, as most of these can use the Adobe RGB colour gamut, which is 17% of the standard sRGB/Rec.709 colour gamut. This mode, therefore, uses the same Adobe RGB colour gamut. AMOLED Cinema Mode is a similar story but naturally is tailored for watching movies with the best possible colour gamut. 

A Closer Look At The Samsung Galaxy S7's Display Tech: The BEST Smartphone Display. Period© knowyourmobile.com A Closer Look At The Samsung Galaxy S7's Display Tech: The BEST Smartphone Display. Period

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