Display guru pens glowing review of the Galaxy S5’s screen

by: Bogdan PetrovanMarch 31, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 Hands on MWC 2014-1160012

We’ve often featured Raymond Soneira’s Technology Shoot-Outs analyses on Android Authority, and for good reason. Head of DisplayMate Inc., Soneira is one of the few display experts that regularly takes the time to look at major new devices and offer reviews based on actual measurements. In a world of vague comparisons, Soneira’s work is an oasis on objectivity.

The latest device to go through Raymond Soneira’s lab is the Galaxy S5. Samsung’s latest flagship features a 5.1-inch AMOLED display of Full HD resolution, and it’s easy to think that the differences between the S5 and the 5-inch Full HD Galaxy S4 are minimal. But things are not quite so.

According to Soneira, the Galaxy S5’s display is the best display DisplayMate ever tested. Not only is the Galaxy S5 a marked improvement over the Galaxy S4 in almost all aspects, but it’s also better than the Note 3, another device that gained Soneira’s praises.

Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light and Highest Color Accuracy

The Galaxy S5 sets several records when it comes to displays, including Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light and Highest Color Accuracy. That last point in particular is important, as color accuracy has long been the weakness of AMOLED screens, and the Galaxy S line in particular. In Cinema Mode (one of the color presets that users can pick from), the S5 features the most accurate colors of any smartphone or tablet that DisplayMate measured.

Samsung Galaxy S5 hands on color size vs all -1160811

In terms of brightness, the Galaxy S5’s screen is 22 percent brighter than the S4, while using the same power. Factoring in display size, the S5’s screen is an impressive 27 percent more efficient than the S4, which should improve battery life.

Read: Samsung Galaxy S5 triumphs in battery life tests

The S5 is even brighter than the Note 3, the previous record-holder. With Auto-brightness turned on, the device can output a whopping 698 cd/m2, six percent better than the Note 3. Further helping usage in bright ambient light is the very low reflectance. In other words, the Galaxy S5’s should stay visible even in direct sunlight.

Soneira concludes that, with the Galaxy S5, AMOLED is on par or better than LCD in every aspect, a big change compared to the early days of the technology, when the technology consistently came last in display comparisons.

For more details on Soneira’s results and methodology head over to the Shoot-Out over at DisplayMate.

  • Huey

    Can’t wait to get it

  • MasterMuffin

    That’s what I’ve always said, AMOLED FTW! Next Nexus with AMOLED would be absolutely amazing, but it would drive the costs up so it won’t happen :/ Good for Samsung though

    • xing

      The nexus s and galaxy nexus were both AMOLED

      • Ben Edwards

        Neither of those are the next Nexus though, are they?

      • MasterMuffin

        What Ben said. Back then Google didn’t try to make their phones as cheap as possible

    • ben-01

      Glad Samsung proves that their AMOLED can go beyond a Super LCD display from it’s competitors.


    • Rushan

      What about Nexus with Super AMOLED

      • MasterMuffin

        Same thing

    • communicationbreakdown92

      I love AMOLED!! It’s the only type of display where a black wallpaper will extend my battery life a good 2-3 hours. Haha. I’m hoping the visibility in bright sunlight can match or surpass that of the iPhone. I’m also looking forward to the apparent extreme dimness capacities on the S5 because my current S4 sometimes kills my eyes when I use it with the lights off before bed, even with the lowest brightness.

  • AMOLED FTW! I always loved AMOLED and now it has become better!

    • The-Sailor-Man

      It’s not only because is AMOLED.
      It’s because Samsung made the best newest tech AMOLED.

      • Aniruddh

        Your move, Apple?

        • Apple at iPhone 6 announcement .”We are adding an extra row of icons!” “This is the best thing happened to iPhone since iPhone”

          • Aniruddh

            …which happened to Android years ago!
            I doubt fanboys could manage their more ‘reliable’ and ‘better implemented’ shit here.

          • Chris

            Happened to Android years ago? Fuck that! Who even needs rows of icons when you can have custom launchers?

    • communicationbreakdown92

      But is it as good in outdoor conditions as the iPhone? Say what you want about apple but my old iPhone 5 display ran circles around my current GS4’s display in direct sunlight, and, living in Southern California where it’s pretty much always sunny, this would be huge for me when I upgrade to the S5!

      • MasterMuffin

        “The Galaxy S5 sets several records when it comes to displays, including highest brightness” I think that’s something

        • communicationbreakdown92

          True! Let’s hope it really is as good as DisplayMate made it out to sound. Can’t wait for April 11th!!

      • Dimitar Gospodinov

        you might as well read the article and then try to suck something out of your fingers…

        • communicationbreakdown92

          What does that even mean? Haha if you’re implying I’m an apple fanboy you couldn’t be more wrong!

          I love my Galaxy S4!! It’s just that the visibility of the display isn’t as good as my old iPhone. That’s just a fact. I am looking forward to the S5’s intensely bright display as it will solve one of the very few qualms I have with my S4.

          • Dimitar Gospodinov

            “The Galaxy S5 sets several records when it comes to displays, including Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light and Highest Color Accuracy. ”
            As far as my english knowledge goes…”record” means bsically “the best ATM” right?
            In Bulgarian “sucking out of my fingers” means trying to find something that is not there (idk if it is any clearer but…)
            I am not implying anything or trying to insult you (I am sorry if I did).
            Apparently Samsung did a great job with this display and there is no reason to take away from that…

    • TheWay

      Nope! is the same they just used another market term to trick you , is just another Octa-core or 13 Mp gimmick
      And you FTW because you work them

      • Hoek

        you really have no idea what you are talking about do you?

      • Do you even know what I am talking about? Just because you appreciate a technology from a certain company means you work for them? Did you even bother to read the article? FYI AMOLED is not a gimmick it is a display technology like IPS or Super LCD

        • TheWay

          I never said that, Amoled is not qimmick but Samsung market numbers are, for example Samsung TAB 10.1 beats iPad Air display on paper with higher rez. and more ppi but in reality iPad Air wipes the floor with Samsung Tab
          iPad Air is near-perfection in quality probably the most gorgeous display on the planet
          iPad 4th vs iPad Air (huge improvement)

          • Hoek

            In reality the Samsung has a better screen whether you believe so or not, do you even know what ppi stands for? Although they are very close in numbers so it would be difficult to tell. Also Samsung has moved with modern times and has a 16:9 screen where for some reason Apple still thinks its the 80’s and has the 4:3 screen, not sure why they are stuck in the past here.

  • The-Sailor-Man


    But it’s still not “Retina”. Right?:)

    • Guest123

      – “that’s a nice device.”
      x “thanks.”
      – “The screen looks really nice, is it a Retina display?”
      x “No. It’s full HD.”
      – “Oh, that’s to bad. . . but it does look nice for a non-Retina screen.”
      x 0_o

      • TheWay

        How is a Full HD better than 326 ppi feature?
        RETINA = HIGHER THAN 300 PPI, iN CASE YOU DONT KNOW WHATS RETINA and S5 is using it no suprise there they copy that too from Apple

        • Alex James Simon

          IPhone 5s is not FullHD, not even 720p, Retina is a term apple uses to get people to believe that 640p is the best thing ever, so they can save money on what they put into the iPhone and make more money. Yes it is above 300, but you are looking at the iphone’s display much closer then you would any other phone do to the size of the display, therefore your eyes can’t perceive it as FullHD or 1080p. That is why on the Nexus 7 (2013) with a “7” display, PPI of 323 is considered considered 1080p while the Iphone 5s with a PPI of 326 on a “4” display is 640p, for an iPhone with a “4” display to be considered 1080p or FullHD it would have to have a PPI of 550.73, probably rounds up, so 551 PPI.

          • TheWay

            Are you people noobs? Read above! this article proves that iPhone 5 display was better than Samsung S4’s big numbers

            iPhone 5 better contrast, better brightnesss, better viewing angle, outdoor visibillty ect.
            Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light and Highest Color Accuracy

          • This article is talking about Galaxy S5 not S4.

          • TheWay

            Yes, but is also about Displaymate tests, Displaymate declared iPhone 5 display a wiiner over S4 dispaly
            GO SEE THE RESULTS

          • Why are you talking about last year flagship? This year Samsung Galaxy S5 beat iPhone 5S in the tests.

          • TheWay

            Well you call that beating i call it copying Apple’s move
            …and i highly doubt S5 beats 5s in tests, iPhone 5s only disavantage for not having true blacks rest was perfect and i’m sure S4 amoled has 1or 2 disavantage too

          • Bishop

            Wow. This has been hilarious…. I’m very tempted to up vote your first post of, “How is a Full HD better than 326 ppi feature?” simply because it’s so funny lol.

          • Hoek

            You sir are a moron, almost everything you have said in these comments has been absolutely incorrect, Apples screen isn’t even HD so cant be compared to a HD screen plain and simple. Would you compare a 640p TV with a 1080p TV? and if you did would you really think the 640p one was better? that’s what you are claiming here, its quite ridiculous and you’re embarrassing yourself.

          • TheWay

            and also iPhone 5s is using iPhone 5 display (nothing was changed) so it makes sense to talk about iPhone 5

          • TheWay

            Let me guess you edit that you said S4 and S5

          • TheWay

            Nope you are wrong, 500 ppi (found in touch ID) destroys the quality of the display makes the colors look over saturated iPad Mini with Retina is a great example

        • mrdoge

          I’m pretty sure Retina doesn’t mean “higher than 300 PPI”. Retina is a part of your eye if you didn’t know. In terms of marketing, it’s just a gimmicky catch-phrase or nickname or whatever made up by Apple to make people think that a low-resolution display is still good and not noticeable to the average person. S5 has never claimed it’s using Retina displays; I mean come on, nobody wants to claim that and get sued by Apple.

          • communicationbreakdown92

            Leave it alone mate, dumb apple fans (iSheep) like him won’t understand you because they’re simply unwilling.

            Retina is the way apple covers its own ass through marketing, the same way they use iSight for their camera or “lightning” connector for their idiotic charging port (which isn’t even compatible with thunderbolt for mac, what a joke) their shortcomings are visible even to them but they know their loyal fans are either dumb enough or stubborn enough to just roll with whatever apple decides it wants to do. They’ve had seven years now to convert to the microUSB standard but they won’t because people still buy the damn lightningphone 5/5S. Samsung used to have proprietary charging ports and it switched to microUSB but not apple they’re much too greedy for that.

            People like “TheWay” also think apple invented everything, I wouldn’t be surprised if he believes apple engineers actually developed the first: touchscreen, fingerprint sensor, LED flash on a phone, “HD” Screen on a phone (it’s not HD but the iSheep sure think so), first phone that can make phone calls (lol), first ever video camera on a phone, first touchscreen keyboard, etc. Apple fanboys always get a new feature a year or two too late and then tout it as the latest and greatest apple innovation.

          • John Mortimer

            I said to my iphone user friend that my nexus as a full HD screen and he said he has the same and I said you joking there is nothing HD about it, he said its camera can do HD so is screen must be HD to show it oh dear1

        • Hoek

          from your comment you dont know what Retina displays are, you’re so wrong its not funny. Retina is not full HD, its less then that, much less. You talk about Samsung marketing in a comment below, and you have been fooled by Apples marketing and this comment proves that because you are clueless.

        • Dimitar Gospodinov

          where do you guy come from….

        • The-Sailor-Man

          “Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies, has challenged Apple’s claim. He says that the physiology of the human retina
          is such that there must be at least 477 pixels per inch in a pixelated
          display for the pixels to resolve (become imperceptible to the human
          eye) at a distance of 12 inches (305 mm).[11”

          “Retina”. is just StJobs BS. They patented the name , though(ROTFL)
          By the way Apple don’t make displays and don’t have technology there. And “retina” displays was MADE BY SAMSUNG.

  • The-Sailor-Man

    Now waiting for PROFESSIONAL camera test of S5
    Then Wi-Fi test

  • namesib

    Go AMOLED! I can’t wait to get the S6.

  • Joshua Hill

    I’d hardly call DisplayMate experts or gurus after their claims that half vertical resolution passive 3D is fullHD. FullHD is defined as 1080p, 540p is not fullHD unless your being paid by LG to deliver favourable results.

    • Jesus

      Where does it say that?

      • Joshua Hill

        Say what?

  • simpleas

    This is the kind of stuff that makes me happy as a Sammy fan. The power to build these awesome tech advancements. Just wait till the full review comes out. Sammy never fails to bring the best phone to the table. Kudos!

    • thartist

      I just hope it doesn’t suffer from the plethora of KitKat bugs being reported by users in general on every phone… Cause I’m sooo planning to get one!

  • polak

    Guys I’m impressed but please tell if I can really trust that review?
    Nowadays it’s kind of hard to now what is true and what is not, there are a lot of payed reviews of apple devices for instace.

    • jeff

      Ur on the wrong site. This is NOT FRAPPLE BUDDY

    • Ben Edwards

      You can definitely trust DisplayMate. They are about as objective as they come.

  • TheWay

    Great another marketed term by Samsung just trick dumb people!

    Lets see iPhone 4s Display 960 x 640 326 ppi vs iPhone 5 1136 x 640 326 ppi (huge improvement if you take closer look) and now Shamesung copy that with S4-S5

    First Samsung they ruined specs, than bechmarks, and now this

    • Hoek

      what the hell are you on about, you are just dribbling crap. Improving a screen doesnt mean its copying, are you saying makers cannot improve their screens now because Apple did so first? wtf

    • Dimitar Gospodinov

      dude…don’t write stupid $hit when you have no idea what you are talking about…

    • communicationbreakdown92

      Hahaha what are you on about? Look at your own comment! How is that an improvement?!?! It’s still 640p with 326 ppi. The screen is bigger but it looks exactly the same. Haha only apple would be stupid enough to have 1080p recording capabilities on a phone with a 640p display, in a world where 1080p is the norm now. 4K recording is different as the technology is still in its early stages, but apple not making the iphone display 1080p is just sad.

      Obviously you’re the dumb one here. The only improvement was that half inch they elongated the iphone 5 by. Haha and it’s still the exact same display on the 5S. At least Samsung bumped up the size by .1″ apple didn’t bother. Go troll the forums on imore on something because no one here uses crapple “technology”

  • Blowntoaster

    see, this kind of stuff matters, good displays, great battery life.
    I’ll take plastic over metal any day if the rest of the experience of the device is worth it.
    Now give us a GPE edition of this device, or a Nexus with the same screen and camera.

    • The-Sailor-Man

      Samsung made Google Play Edition of Galaxy S4 , and 5-6 ppl already bought it. Why shouldn’t they make GPE of S5 , too?

      The rest of the ppl(millions) , buy the original versions, because of the great functionality and features. Why should they buy handicap S5?