Will the Galaxy S4 end the “AMOLED is over-saturated” criticism?

March 18, 2013
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Galaxy S4 adapt display amoled

A new software feature on the Samsung Galaxy S4 could eliminate the issues that put off “display purists” from AMOLED displays.

Read any review of a device sporting an AMOLED display, and there’s a good chance you’ll encounter wording along the lines of “the AMOLED display is beautiful, but some people might be put off by the over-saturated colors”.

Related: AMOLED vs LCD – What is the difference?

Now, many people (including yours truly) are perfectly fine with the better-than-life quality of AMOLED panels. Others think LCDs are superior because they offer a more accurate representation of real world colors. Moreover, LCDs generally show “cleaner” whites, as opposed to AMOLEDs, which render whites with greenish or bluish tints.

Reputed display expert Raymond Soneira from DisplayMate has weighed in on the matter when he compared the display of the Galaxy S3 to the display of the iPhone 5. His conclusion was that the AMOLED has over-saturated greens and all colors are distorted. The expert also found that Samsung’s display was poorly calibrated, meaning that some of the issues could have been avoided in the first place.

Samsung seems to have accepted the criticism and is apparently trying to solve the calibration problem with the new Adapt Display feature on the Galaxy S4. From Samsung’s description:

“Optimized display settings that fit you – Give your eyes a rest and let the Samsung GALAXY S4 adjust your view. With 7 automatic modes and 4 manual modes, the Samsung GALAXY S4 provides the optimal viewing experience. See your favorite videos, games, books and emails displayed with amazing color quality. Get the perfect and optimized view with the Samsung GALAXY S4.”

As Oled-info points out, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 microsite shows what appears to be a CIE chromaticity diagram and a gray scale level picker. The site goes on to quote Raymond Soneira saying that the new calibration tool would be a “major display advancement and a win for Samsung and AMOLED displays”.

adapt display calibration

From my understanding, Adapt Display would automatically switch between the seven automatic presets depending on the use conditions. For instance, when the phone detects bright light it could improve contrast to enhance legibility. When the user reads an eBook or browses the internet, the display could switch to a mode that shows a pure white, instead of the blue-tinted whites shown on a Galaxy S3. When watching a movie, the phone would go in full color mode, to make the images as vibrant as possible.

The best news is there will be several manual modes, so users will get to fine tune the appearance of the display to their liking.

While seemingly trivial, the fact that Samsung implemented this functionality in the Galaxy S4 is an achievement owed to a property that is specific to OLED displays, Oled-info explains. Unlike LCDs, OLED displays can be easily and accurately calibrated on the fly, because their driver works linearly, making it easy to translate software input into changes at the pixel level.

I am looking forward to getting a Galaxy S4 for a hands-on, to look at a feature that shapes out to be very promising. If the technology works the way I explained in this post, Samsung is about to finally solve one of the drawbacks of its devices, without taking away from the benefits of AMOLED screens. Most importantly, the user would be in control, which is ideal in my view.

What do you think?

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