Best of Android 2015: Display

by: Team AADecember 8, 2015

What is Best of Android?                

In Best of Android, we take the hottest devices of the moment and compare them in-depth. For this first edition, we picked up the following Android flagships:

  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
  • Nexus 6P
  • Motorola Moto X Force
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 5
  • LG V10
  • BlackBerry Priv

What about the Galaxy S6 or the HTC One M9 or the OnePlus 2, you ask. Those are all great phones. But, to keep this comparison manageable, we selected only the phones we feel are the most representative for the ecosystem right now.

Read more about Best of Android. Thanks for being a part of Android Authority!

We’re always asked which is the best smartphone on the market and which is the one to buy right now. To kick off our Best of Android 2015 series we are going to delve right on into every smartphone’s big upfront piece of tech – its display.

Our test subjects are (in no particular order) the Nexus 6P, Moto X Force, BlackBerry Priv, Xperia Z5 Premium, LG V10 and the Galaxy Note 5. This not only gives us a good look at how Sony’s 4K display stacks up against the QHD resolution that has become the norm in this year’s flagships, but also how the latest and greatest AMOLED panels fare against LCD.

Before we delve into all of the results, a quick word about our test. We paired up an X-rite’s i1 Display Pro spectrophotometer up with with CalMAN’s ColorChecker software and the MobileForge companion app, which is used to wirelessly sync up the test images between the phone and our PC software. We set the phone to our desired brightness for each test, attached the i1 Display Pro to the middle of the display, made sure that it was flush to the screen, and then ran the software.

 BlackBerry PrivLG V10Galaxy Note 5Nexus 6PMoto X ForceXperia Z5 Premium
Pixels Density540 ppi515 ppi518 ppi518 ppi540 ppi806 PPI
Screen-to-body ratio~71.9%~70.8%~75.9%~71.4%~69.8%~70.4%

As well as giving us luminance levels and a gamut plot, the software checks the colors produced by the display against an idealised set and gives us an error value (where 0 is perfect). We looked at the basic pure colors used in the reproduction of all other shades; red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow; along with white, to build a profile of how accurate each display is.

Display Luminance

To start with, we ramped up each phone to full brightness and measured a white light output with the i1 Display Pro. A higher peak brightness is very useful when trying to use your smartphone in bright sunlight, but this comes at the expense of additional battery drain.

The Xperia Z5 Premium is by far the brightest display with a whopping 629 nits, followed by the BlackBerry Priv at 527 nits and the Note 5 with 493 nits. The Moto X Force and the Nexus 6P are a fair bit darker at their peak settings, managing just 385 and 397 nits respectively.

Best of Android Display 1 x

We also thought that it would be interesting to see how each display adjusts between its minimum and maximum settings, to see if the 50 percent phone setting is actually half as bright as the maximum option.

Best of Android Display 2 x

What’s interesting about this result is that the AMOLED smartphones all exhibit pretty much straight lines, so your software brightness setting very closely follows the actual output. The LG V10 and Xperia Z5 Premium both opt for a curved setting, with very little change between 0 and 25 percent, but a much larger swing in the last 25 percent.

The Xperia Z5 Premium, the brightest phone, is actually one of the dimmest until you reach around the 85 percent setting on the handset. It’s the BlackBerry Priv that is actually by far the brightest display on average and the phone should make it easier to find the ideal manual brightness setting for your environment thanks to its linear adjustment.

250 nits calibrated color error

For our first color test we calibrated each of the smartphone displays to 250 nits, a rather typical brightness for viewing in well-lit environments. Here we are looking to see how closely each display can match the ideal shade, as well as the average and maximum error value across all the colors tested.

Best of Android Display 3 x

The Moto X Force is the clear winner here, with both lower average and maximum errors. This is followed by the LG V10 and the BlackBerry Priv, which both boasts very low average errors. The Xperia Z5, Galaxy Note 5 and the Nexus 6P are all similarly poorer performers here.

To grab a closer look at exactly where each display is performing well and poorly, we can take a look at the error values for each of the colors we tested.

Best of Android Display 4 x

The Galaxy Note 5 shows some of the highest color errors across the field, which makes sense given the regularly discussed saturated blue and greens of Samsung’s display, which often divides consumers. The Nexus 6P also has a very similar profile. The Xperia Z5 Premium is quite different to the other phones which tend to offer accurate blues. Instead the Z5 Premium is the best at reproducing red and green, but has a higher Cyan error than any of the other phones.

The winner in this test is between the LG V10 and the Moto X Force, which both show lower color errors, particularly in the blues and greens. The V10 probably just edges it here though.

The one display part not tested above is whites. A trend common among LCD panels is to see a blue tint to the whites and this can be observed on both the LG V10 and most notable with the Xperia Z5 Premium. This is because LCD backlights are built from a filtered blue light, while AMOLED pixels provide their color independently. For a closer comparison, the graph below plots the average white error across varying display brightness’s.

Best of Android Display 5 x

Interestingly, the LCD panels perform slightly better in this regard when the displays aren’t driven as hard, while the Nexus 6P sees a larger error when it’s display is darker. The BlackBerry Priv has the best whites, although the errors creep up a little when the display is at its darkest or brightest. The Galaxy Note 5 is the most consistent performer, but is a little worse on average than the other AMOLED displays.

LCD vs AMOLED - Best of Android display

The Z5 Premium and LG V10 (LCD) show a notable blue tint on whites compared with the Priv and Note 5 (AMOLED).

Color error range

Not every viewing condition lends itself to a single brightness. To see if the accuracy of any of these displays would shift if you’re out in the sun at full brightness or having a read before bed with the brightness dimmed, we redid the color test at each phone’s 10, 50 and 100 brightness levels.

Best of Android Display 6 x

When it comes to maximum errors we again see a notably poor performance from the Xperia Z5 Premium, which is mostly due to its very poor whites. The Moto X Force again comes out ahead in this test, just beating the LG V10 because of its weaker performance when it comes to whites.

The Priv, Note 5 and Nexus 6P are all pretty close in this test. Also, a common theme across all of the phones is that the maximum color errors tend to improve slightly as you turn the display brightness down.

Best of Android Display 7 x

Looking at an averaged picture, it’s a much closer content, with the Priv, Note 5, V10 and Nexus 6P all performing equally well. The Moto X Force is the most accurate display on average but also seems to vary in accuracy slightly when the display is nearer maximum and minimum brightness settings. By contrast, the Galaxy Note 5 and Nexus 6P vary very little as you adjust the brightness, while the V10 and Z5 again show improvements at lower settings.

Color Gamut

To explain some of the color error results in a little more detail we should have a look at how each phone’s color gamut compares to the test target.

BlackBerry Priv Gamut
Galaxy Note 5 Gamut
LG V10 Gamut

Across all of the phones we see that colors are extended outwards from our test target, suggesting various levels of oversaturation depending on the manufacturer. As the earlier test results suggested, it’s the LG V10 sticks very close to the target around the blues and particularly the yellows, while the Moto X Force maintains quite a linear deviation in the blues and reds. The Priv is also quite a good fit, apart from the slightly overextended AMOLED greens.

Moto X Force Gamut
Nexus 6P Gamut
Xperia Z5 Premium Gamut

The Galaxy Note 5 however is clearly overcompensating with the greens and blues and this extra saturation really takes the display away from our ideal test values, producing an unrealistic result and higher error count. The Nexus 6P also follows this same pattern very closely. That being said, some people do prefer this more saturated look, so this is a bit more of a subjective issue that the error results may have made it seem.

For a closer comparison, we can overlay the gamut results on top of one another, allowing us to see how each phone compares to one another.

Gamut Comparison

Here we can see the familiar Samsung AMOLED oversaturation debate quite clearly. Both the Galaxy Note 5 and the Nexus 6P offer by far the deeper greens and blues when compared with the other smartphones. By extending saturation here, manufacturers are looking to add more pop to their pictures and it’s interesting that Samsung also choses these colors for its user interface.

The BlackBerry Priv and the Moto X Force are virtually identical across the spectrum, and sit right between the Note 5 and the tamer LCD displays when it comes to green saturation. All of the AMOLED panels are much closer to the target colours in the reds, while it’s the LCD based Xperia Z5 Premium and LG V10 that extend saturation out further here.


Overall, it’s quite a close run competition for the most part, although we have to say that, on paper at least, the Xperia Z5 Premium’s 4K display has rather underperformed. The whites carry a very noticeable blue tint and that has really had an impact on its performance across our tests. Although the phone has the brightest display, its profile is not really the most usable either. However, the Z5 Premium is actually a joy to use and to watch back content on, so like the Note 5, datasheet accuracy is not always the most important factor.

We haven’t really commented too much on the BlackBerry Priv, partly because it has been a solid performer in every test. It has vivid colors without veering into over-saturation, there’s no noticeable color tint and it’s brighter on average than the competition for viewing outdoors. Therefore, we have crowned the Priv as the winner in the display test.

It’s unbelievably close between the other handsets, with each offering up a selection of pros and cons. What the Moto X Force and Nexus 6P lack in brightness they make up for in color and white accuracy. The LG V10 may miss the mark on whites, but it has one of the most accurate displays otherwise. The Note 5’s heavy saturation continues to make it a contentious handset, but it was certainly a strong all-round performer as well.

Best of Android 2015

All the comparisons:

Best of Android: Display

Best of Android: Audio

Best of Android: Performance

Best of Android: Battery

Best of Android: Camera

Best of Android: User Experience

And the winner is…


Video / Post by: Lanh Nguyen & Rob Triggs
Series Contributors: Rob TriggsGary Sims, Lanh Nguyen, Joe Hindy, Krystal Lora

Series Editors: Nirave Gondhia, Bogdan Petrovan, Andrew Grush

  • Dhinario

    altough I still don’t know which one is the best (?) but I like the Xperia Z5 :3

    • wabbies

      It’s a very pleasant screen and a good overall smartphone! I would recommend it.

  • MobileRoamer

    Wow, what a very poor and amateur display comparison. You did nothing some fool with the same equipment and software could very easily do. Absolutely no understanding of display tech. How does crap like this even get out. Just go to displaymate for a real test of how good your display is. Note 5 comes with 4 choices of calibration, and it’s brightest setting comes in auto mode. Completely clueless. And this is supposed to be an Android specific site. No wonder Apple does so well, all the Apple fan sites don’t ever miss anything positive about the iPhone. They let the readers know exactly every capability of the iPhone. This site is a joke for letting the reader know how to get the best out of their Android device.

    • Hans Pedersen

      I actually like that AA is trying to get more technical and differentiate themselves from the usual, shallow gadget blogging standards iDevice sites has driven the industry towards. Yes, it’s maybe not the best and most accurate display test, but it’s a start.
      Also, I would stop coming here if they’d write like those Apple “review” sites, neglecting the negatives to get as many page clicks as possible, while pleasing the master to retain their seat at the next keynote/prayer meeting.

      • MobileRoamer

        I didn’t say ignore the negatives, I would never want any review to ignore the cons. But when you do an article on how good a DISPLAY is, then you completely ignore the full capabilities of the display, that’s just plain irresponsible. This is a TECH enthusiasts site, how does anyone writing for a TECH site completely miss such a thing. There’s absolutely no mention of it. This isn’t just a general phone review, it’s a specific review of the DISPLAY. Lol. Incompetent doesn’t even begin to describe this article.

      • Thank you very much for the feedback!! As the saying goes, you have to start somewhere and we think as a first attempt, we’ve not done too badly! We appreciate the feedback from everyone and we’re planning to make the next one even more in-depth :)

        • calvin35

          If you’re going to review the displays accuracy the very least you could have done is out the Note 5 in the proper display mode. Samsung clearly put a lot of work into making Basic mode as good as it is and to have a top Android site like AA not even seem to be aware of this is an embarrassment.

    • Desmond Ma

      Can’t agree more. They should really take a look at the tests from displaymate. Not only did they miss the options in the Note 5, reflections and viewing angles are all omitted from this comparison (which are important aspects as well when considering the quality of a display).

    • thanks all for your comments – good and bad feedback is always welcome! I just wanted to explain our testing methods; we deliberately picked the Adaptive Display as that’s how the Note 5 comes as default and most users won’t think to change it. That being said, we’ll keep this in mind for future comparisons.

      As for viewing angles and reflections – we actually planned to do this but chose not to as we couldn’t find a suitable method that provided objective data and wasn’t subject to a user’s personal opinion. We’re planning to include these in our future Best of Android series, thanks again for the feedback!

      • calvin35

        Yes, unfortunately this article is not for those users as they could not care less about display accuracy. The people interested in this article will be the people that actually want an accurate display. I mean the very thing that makes the Note 5 display so much better than any other phones display is that Samsung took the time to give the user a choice. If you want a pretty accurate display they’ve got you covered, if not they’ve got something for you as well. It’s a no brainer that you guys should have mentioned that in this article. As you can probably tell i care about display accuracy and its irritating when an OEM like Samsung takes the time and spends the money to make sure that they include an accurate mode on their flagship phones, only to have a major Android tech sure completely ignore that when reviewing the phones display.

        • Steven Guptill

          I was looking forward to seeing how the Nexus 6P’s sRGB mode performed, since neither displaymate or AnandTech have reviewed the phone.

      • Bob Marley

        The Note 5 gets brighter than any of the other smartphones in Auto Brightness mode. It hits 700+ nits.

    • Steve Brain

      Make a better article then. Problem solved.

    • Cyrus Dastoor

      This is a real waste of CyberSpace

  • D13H4RD2L1V3

    This is how I test displays

    Look at display

    Is it vibrant and bright and a joy to see things on?

    Yes = Great

    No = Bleh

    All I’m saying is that I’ve actually used all but 2 of the phones and to the naked eye, all are superb. It’s just the tiny details that differentiate all of them.

    • Bob F

      True, but a comparison like this will give shoppers a “top 3” or so to go try out. Some people can also see where there’s stands. I want the brightest OLED I can find because I believe in true black as much as brightness.

    • 404

      wait so which do you think is the best? i think Nexus 6p’s is

  • Marshal Edwards

    I was really looking forward to reading this article until I realized that they completely ignored Samsung’s various screen modes. I keep my Note 4 in basic mode because I can’t stand the default over saturation. AA should do the same on the Note 5 and conduct the test again. Ignoring the screen settings is a major flaw in your test.

    • Justin Rogers

      Agreed, if these tests were done with the default “adaptive display” settings, they should be redone using basic instead.. Basic is the mode Samsung calibrates properly without over-saturation nor color imbalances.

      • Thanks for the feedback guys, we kept it in “Adaptive Display” as that’s how most users will use the handset but we’ll keep this in mind for the next Best of Android comparison. Thanks!

  • J G

    dont care what you say. note 5 is best.

  • sachouba

    1) Samsung’s smartphones have different display modes, and the default one is “Adapt Display”, which is oversaturated. Which one was used in this test ?

    2) Samsung’s smartphones can reach higher luminance levels when put in Auto Mode, when the brightness measured by the light sensor exceeds 40 000 lux. Moreover, the max brightness depends on the area of the screen that’s white or black. Was the display entirely lit ?

    Without those pieces of information, the test is irrelevant.

    • 1) yes we used adapt display as that is the default mode on the handset and most users won’t think to change it as the oversaturation provides a much better visual experience.

      2) Whereas Samsung’s auto brightness can go VERY bright, we aren’t using auto brightness. Instead we ran tests at different brightness settings during the course of this test.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      • sachouba

        Thanks for the answers.
        The only thing that I find preposterous is that the persons who won’t change the display mode on their Note 5 are probably those who don’t care at all about the calibration of the display.

        Which means that testing the oversaturated mode doesn’t make much sense. ;)

        But I understand your point of view.

      • 1213 1213

        While I understand the reasons for keeping it on default I can’t agree with it. As the other guy said people who care would change it, not like those who don’t and can’t would even be on AA. At the very least its worth mentioning even if you don’t consider it imo. The fact that you have that choice is in itself a huge plus to a display after all.

      • calvin35

        People that say, “….the oversaturation provides a much better visual experience”, should not be reviewing display accuracy.

  • Joe Gambo

    Did they just really test the Note with stock saturated color mode? You always put the phone in it’s most color accurate mode before you do these tests :( It’s either a paid or stupid review. Pick one. Please see Displaymate for full technical review.


    “LG V10 ~70.8% screen-to-body ratio”

    I’m assuming that it’s just the main screen that’s accounted for and not the secondary display?

  • S.L Jones

    Lot of isheep ::coughs:: excuse me, Samsung fan boys in here complaining cuz their phone didn’t get a win further justifying their blind fanaticism and coddling their fragile egos….::boo hoo hoo::

    • Justin Rogers

      I think most people are upset that the test, didn’t test the proper settings on the Note 5.. It should have been tested with the display set to basic rather than “adaptive display”

    • calvin35

      Ignorance is a hell of a thing. Just saying…..

  • Mark Loney

    Of all phones why are you reviewing the moto force when pure has a better screen?

  • calvin35

    Apparently linking to sites that actually do credible display reviews is frowned upon here so for anyone who really wants to know how good the Note 5 display can be, just go to displaymate.

  • calvin35

    I almost forgot. The White balance alone on the V10 should disqualify it from being included in this test. LG should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Michaels_28

    Considering the amount of work that was done, it seems rather strange to omit testing the target color space. Nexus 6P and Note 5 both provides easy-to-select sRGB mode, which should have been tested here. Also “white display error” graph would benefit by a different labeling and graphical presentation (i.e. warm/cool) than “error ranges” which is susceptible to misinterpretation.

  • Kim Griffiths

    I’m annoyed! We can’t even get the Note 5 in the UK, so you kept talking “real life” in your tests. Don’t you think it would have been nice to say Note 5/Edge +, because that’s what we have here in the U.K? Arghhh!

  • Mark Mann

    just bought the v10 yesterday, both myself and my husband, he was undecided between the v10 and the s6e+, the deciding factor(for him, i had already decided on the v10) was the salesperson putting both phones on max brightness, and google image searching red on both phones, the s6e+ was decidedly orange, while the v10 was red…just do a google image search for “red” and check it out

  • Elia Igga

    I think most complaints here point to reviewing the Note 5’s display in default mode – that may not get the best results out of its display given that it has other modes that call pull off a coup. However i also believe all the other tests like Camera and Performance in these “Best of Android 2015” series were done with default settings on so that makes the equation more balanced.

    Actually where i come from most people who can afford these expensive devices are not so tech savvy and just use them with basic settings on for basic tasks such as social media, web browsing and may take a few basic pictures and videos – just open your browser or camera app or social app without any tampering with manual or mode settings and do your task

  • XdaDev X

    Here are 4 phones display whites test
    from the left ; S6 edge , Vivo X5 Pro , Huawei P7 and iPhone 6
    Best screen whites Huawei P7 is the winner that is of course .. this phone has best illuminance all screens even from all smartphones in the world perhaps
    (all 4 are on max brightness).
    On second place is Vivo X5 Pro with amoled .. It has much better amoled screen than S6 ? I was surprised
    third place S6 edge and last is poor iPhone 6