Samsung Galaxy Note vs. Galaxy Note 2 Display Comparison

September 6, 2012
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samsung galaxy-note-2-display
Now that the dust has finally settled over the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, we noticed that a very important detail has escaped most analysis regarding the display on the second generation phablet. As a consequence, I’m now here to right my wrongs and further discuss the differences between the display of the original Galaxy Note and that of the Galaxy Note 2. If you’re interested in an overall comparison, check out our Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs Galaxy Note (original) article.

Back a few days ago at IFA 2012, when Samsung announced their Galaxy Note 2 and its 5.5 inch Super AMOLED HD display, most people (myself included) assumed that this is a PenTile display. This assumption was backed by the fact that Samsung has officially stated several months ago that the PenTile subpixel arrangement significantly improves the lifetime of the display (so we were guessing that they’ll keep using the technology they were protecting), as well by the fact that Samsung usually markets its non-PenTile displays as Super AMOLED Plus. Fortunately for all — except other display manufacturers of course — the display used by Samsung on the Galaxy Note 2 turns out not to be PenTile after all.

Instead, Samsung has opted for an RGB matrix, although the arrangement of the subpixels is certainly unique. This really changes the way we should think of the Note 2 display. But first, here’s a close-up image to prove it:

Initially, many fans have complained about the fact the Galaxy Note 2 shows a lower PPI (Pixel Per Inch) than the original Galaxy Note. This was due to the fact that, at 5.3 inches in diagonal, the PenTile display on the original Note was using a resolution of 800 x 1280, thus reaching a PPI of 285. The Note 2 has a 5.55 inch screen (0.25 extra across the diagonal) and a 720 x 1280 resolution (so that’s 80×1280 less actual pixels), meaning that the display has a PPI that rests slightly below 265.

But since the display on the Note 2 is actually not PenTile, but uses a uniquely arranged RGB matrix, what could have previously been viewed as a downgrade is, in fact, a significant upgrade.

While some argue that the differences between a PenTile display and one based on a RGB matrix are not significant, Samsung sure has received a lot of criticism on this aspect from some areas of the Android community. Those that have been criticizing the PenTile arrangement in past displays won’t have absolutely anything to complain about when it comes to the Galaxy Note 2 display.

Now there’s a small observation I’d like to make about the PPI value for the Galaxy Note 2 display: many observers have calculated the PPI ratio of the Note Two’s display using 5.5 inches as the surface value, but the extra 0.05 inches should also be counted for an exact value. So that’s why you’ll see that many websites say that the PPI is 267, instead of 265. The difference is not observable though, so I’m probably just nitpicking right now!

And then there’s yet another aspect that has been rarely discussed about the difference between the display on the original Galaxy Note and that of its successor, on that has everything to do with the aspect ratio. This was first brought in by one of our readers, by the name of Michael Ma. I’m going to quote him directly, as I’ve done the math and it checks out:

The Galaxy Note 2 screen is significantly better for 720p videos. Because of the 80 extra pixels on the original note, 720p video would only use about 4.77″ of the 5.3″ screen, with 80 pixels of black top and bottom. However, when you play 720p video on the Galaxy Note 2, you would use the entire 5.55″ screen with no black bars top and bottom. So, for 720p video only, you are gaining 0.78 inches diagonally. It is a pretty huge improvement for video watching.

I admit it! I was one to think that Samsung made no real improvements to the display of the Note 2 when compared against the original. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out, this is not the case. It sure seemed strange for Samsung not to push on the fact that they are the absolute leaders in the SAMOLED scene, a position that it has earned by investing heaps of money in its R&D process.

What do you guys make of it? Do these new bits of info solve any eventual worries that you might have had regarding the display on the Galaxy Note 2? Let us know in the comment section below!