An extensive Full HD screen comparison between several handsets that pack a display with 1920 x 1080 resolution has found that the Sony Xperia Z flagship is bested by the “older” HTC Butterfly and Oppo Find 5 in several tests.

While the display is not necessarily the make or brake feature of smartphones, as buyers will surely look at the bigger picture when purchasing their next device, it certainly is one important piece of the puzzle. In recent years, smartphone makers have kept raising the display bar, coming up with bigger and bigger displays, better resolutions and more pixels per inch (PPI).

This year may be very well called the year of the  “Full HD smartphone” as most flagship handsets – and not only them – will feature a Full HD display of around 5 inches. Considering that everyone’s flagship handset has a similar display capable of offering virtually the same resolution and PPI, does that mean all Full HD displays out there are equal?

No, it doesn’t, and Russian online publication Hi-Tech has put five smartphones through an extensive screen performance test. These are, in the order shown in the available images: the Sharp Aquos Phone SH930Wthe Sony Xperia Z, the Sharp Aquos Phone Zeta, the Oppo Find 5, and the HTC Butterfly.

Unfortunately, the test does not include two brand new handsets that will soon challenge everyone else in stores, the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4, both devices that will sport a Full HD display. However, it’s worth noticing that all the handsets tested by Hi-Tech measure 5 inches, and the One could be excluded from such tests since it comes with a smaller 4.7-inch display.


As we have already told you, the Xperia Z, one of the hottest handsets of the year so far, does not come with the hottest display out there according to this comparison, as the Butterfly and Find 5 have outperformed it in various tests.

When it comes to screen brightness, seen as the most important feature of a screen by some, the publication notes that other factors that affect image contrast should be taken into consideration such as screen reflectiveness and anti-glare features. In such testing, the Zeta came first, followed the Find 5, the Butterfly, the SH930W and Xperia Z. Testing has been performed both with the screen turned off and on to measure the way each display is protected by the effects of external light sources.

When looking at maximum brightness alone, the Find 5 was found to be the brightest at 442cd/sqm. In second place was the Xperia Z (440cd/sqm, but 400cd/sqm at the edges of the screen,) followed by the Zeta (420cd/sqm,) Butterfly (385cd/sqm) and SH930W (314cd/sqm.) Considering the low brightness levels of the latter, testing has been performed at 300cd/sqm for all handsets.

The Butterfly and Find 5, both sporting a contrast ratio of about 1100:1, won the contrast ratio battle. They were followed by the SH930W (900:1,) Zeta (800:1) and Xperia Z (570:1).

For viewing angles, the Butterfly and the Find 5 “will satisfy the most demanding users,” as the images on their screens are “legible even at extreme angles,” thus besting the other three contenders, the SH930W, the Zeta and the Xperia Z.


In color reproduction tests, the clear winners were once again the Butterfly and the Find 5. The latter performed better in gamma tests, while the former did better in white balance and color gamut comparisons. The displays of the Find 5 and Butterfly have been described as well configured right out-of-the-box, with the Butterfly being better calibrated, as it was found to be superior when it comes to white balance and color reproduction.

When performing the color gamut tests, the publication concluded that the Xperia Z’s display may offer oversaturated colors compared to the Butterfly and the Oppo. Interestingly, the Bravia Engine 2 image processing technology, one of the features of the Xperia Z, doesn’t help that much:

By the way, Sony makes a pretty strong emphasis on the presence of image processing BRAVIA Engine 2. We experimented with it and came to the following conclusions: mainly the “improvement” is to increase color saturation. Perhaps this embellish quiet shades, but on many vivid images is rather superfluous. In some cases, led to a glut of colors that blended shades and lose clarity, and detail. Let’s just say, the screen Sony Xperia Z is not much of a need for additional image processing. Another thing is that the BRAVIA Engine 2 does not increase the physical contrast of the screen or viewing angles – that’s where a handy “help.” Manipulation of the signal level often give “amateur photoshop effect” than actually improve something. [via Google Translate]

Those of you really passionate about display comparisons can check out the full display tests complete with charts and graphics available at the Source link below (translated with Google Translate).

Regular buyers that aren’t as interested in such complex tests will probably not notice any differences between these displays, and their needs will surely be met by any of the 5-inch Full HD handsets featured in Hi-Tech’s display comparison. But in case display quality really matters to you then we’ll say again that the Butterfly and Find 5 were the best devices, and they may be even friendlier to your budget than an Xperia Z for example. At the same time, you should consider all the other features of an Android handset when making your next purchase.

Naturally, we expect the HTC One to be equally well-calibrated and offer a similar Butterfly-like screen performance. And we can’t but wonder how the Galaxy S4 would so in similar testing, but we’ll have to wait a while longer until these devices hit stores and can be put through similar testing.

  • inspire

    so, whom to believe? GSMarena says 705 contrast ratio for XZ and this Russian website says 570 ?
    perhaps, AA you should come up with your own test results ?

  • Jaiy

    The Xperia Z had 3 different screen types in the beginning, two of which were really bad. Now the screens are only made by Sharp and the Sharp screen is way better than the other two. That’s also one thing explaining seriously different contrast ratios and other things.

    • nivla

      so you’re saying the later retailed version are most likely to be made by sharp for the screen and would be better than the results showed in this post is that it?

      • Jaiy

        Exactly, I heard that the Sharp panel is 1000:1 contrast, so the one in the test was probably the “middle class” panel.

        “1. Sharp – 1000:1 + Contrast Ratio, on par with the best screens on the market.

        2. JDC 2 – 700:1 Contrast Ratio, This is what GSMArena got. It’s the middle quality panel with worse blacks than Xperia S

        3. JDC 1 – 450:1 Contrast Ratio. This is the worst panel of all and is
        found in ALL demo units and some retail units in Europe. I really have
        no words about this panel. It’s a joke. You are 100% likely to see this
        panel in Demo Z at Croma and other outlets. EXtremely weak blacks and
        washed out colors with poorer viewing angles than even S/SL

        Most of Asia has got the Sharp panel which is as good as
        Butterfly/One/One X/Xperia TX/Lumia 920 screens. There is very little
        chance you will NOT get this panel but to be sure

        Buy a Z manufactured AFTER February 2013. Only the early batch uses
        panel lottery. February onwards 100% Sharp panels only are used. You can
        checkout the ZL screen to get an idea about the Sharp panel on Z. All
        ZL have Sharp panels.

        So best thing to do is buy a fresh stock Z next month, you’ll get the high quality Sharp panel.

        Also screen calibration app will be provided by Sony in 4.2.2 update coming in 2 weeks.”

        • lil bit

          Interesting. I am in SE Asia now, the Xperia Z was launched last week, i will bring my european Z and compare with Z here. If its as you say i may buy one here to get the Sharp display, IF its C6603, i dont want C6602. Anyway, there is some 4G coverage here, i am quite sure its C6603, but in India they got C6602.

          I have to add that there is no problems with the JD2 panel, its very pleasing and brigth, also great outdoors, i just have a bad habit of alway wanting the best.

  • icyrock1

    Now to see how Samsung’s new Pen-til layout stacks up and helps the GS4…

  • Jame

    True Color

  • I am about to buy a Z and having read these comments would like to know if there is a way to tell which screen version I would be getting. Is there a different SKU or something that identifies the good Sharp screen? Will be buying from the Sony store in Auckland, New Zealand.

    • lil bit

      Its not that easy to see, as the JDC2 panel does not have terrible view angles or terrible contrast, its a quite capable display in all ways.
      The good news is that either way you get a great phone with a good display.

  • lil bit

    Does not mean Z has a bad display anyway, its very comfortable to use and sharing the display is not a problem if you all sit at the same side of the table. haer s ev

    Agree with the Bravia part though, on my old Xperia i used to keep bravia on, that was the mBE, now with the mBE2 i found it ruins some fotos. Could still be useful for videos though, but not a deal breaker.

    Also, the chinese test of Xperia Z vs Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3 showed something that we seen too many times before, for example in S3 vs Xperia T, that Sony displays are superior in detail in dark areas, especially over AMOLED but it also has an edge on for example LG IPS panels here. Where the S4 would display a solid black the Xperia Z did shine with great detail in levels of grey, very impressive, and that matters much more than syntetic contrast benchmarks and viewing angles.

  • thetrystero

    Was this article translated by Google translate from a different language? The English is horrible.