The LG V30 is shaping up to be a compelling flagship phone for many reasons, from its promising new camera to the range of multimedia software options present. It’s also the first time the V series had opted for an OLED display panel. It’s LG Display’s latest Plastic-OLED panel to be precise, which also means that Samsung Display and the Galaxy Note 8 have a direct competitor, in terms of display technology, for the first time.
For us hardware enthusiasts, this is a rather exciting development. LG’s previous flexible plastic OLED experiments might not have been a commercial success, but now that LG Display is matching Samsung Display when it comes to resolution, panel size, and support for HDR content, we might have some more interesting choices to make it comes to picking out the smartphone with the best display.
A quick recap of the tech
Before we go any further, we should sort out what differences, if any, there are between LG Display’s OLED, POLED, or P-AMOLED, and Samsung’s Super AMOLED or Infinity Display as the company now likes to call it. As there are numerous terms floating around these days.
The short answer is that the basic underlying technology is very similar, baring some lower level manufacturing choices and, of course, how software configures and handles the display. Both are OLED displays, which means they are built from a matrix of organic light emitting diodes. Both are also built on active matrix technology (the AM in AMOLED), so that each pixels can be driven individually. The LG V30, Galaxy S8, and Note 8, are also all designed with a swanky looking curved edge, revealing that these panels are also build on a flexible plastic rather than a rigid glass substrate (the P in POLED or P-AMOLED).
Essentially, both LG Display and Samsung Display are basing their latest smartphone panels on plastic OLED designs. The differences boil down to manufacturing materials and methods, sub-pixels layouts, calibration, and software. But even these smaller hidden differences can make panels look quite unique.
To get to the bottom of what these smaller differences mean for you and me as phone users, we’ve conducted some preliminary tests on both of these OLED display technologies. To gather some results, we grabbed hold of the new LG V30 and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Plus, which features pretty much the same panel as the new Note 8.
Display test results
Diving right on into the most instantly noticeable feature of any display, color temperature, and we can see that in the move over to LG OLED from LCD (V30 compared with G6) there’s been a notably cooler shift in tones. The V30 appears to be a tad cooler than the G6, and is also far cooler than Samsung’s AMOLED display, which clocks in at 7471 K compared to 8542 K.
Interestingly, LG’s website says that the V30’s display should have a temperature much closer to the S8 Plus, at around 7500 K. Our results could be down to the choice of display mode, the phone was set at “normal” rather than tweaked for photos or movies. It could also be the fact that we’re testing on a preview unit that wasn’t running final retail software. If so, this suggests that LG’s display is capable of a wide range of color modes ranging from closer to Samsung’s traditional warm pop through to a cooler LCD like panel.
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When it comes to viewing in daylight and making the most of HDR content, which is supported by both LG and Samsung’s latest displays, peak brightness and contrast ratio are hugely important.
Our testing reveals that there’s little to tell between the LG and Samsung’s panels when it comes to setting max brightness manually. Both capped out at 421 and 398 nits respectively giving LG a slight lead. However, the auto mode is able to shift this higher, and LG’s OLED panel takes a more notable lead, offering 606 nits compared with Samsung’s 535. Interestingly we couldn’t achieve anywhere near the over 1,000 nits of brightness that DisplayMate claims Samsung’s display is capable of.
Both phones are capable of achieving a greater peak brightness than the Pixel’s AMOLED panel, although this is most likely down to the way the auto-mode is configured in software. The LCD based LG G6 is a brighter panel still, but this is usually the case due to lower power consumption and to improve the contrast ratio due to the lack of deep blacks when compared to OLED.
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Our initial impressions of the LG V30’s display have been very positive during our hands-on time, and the data helps to suggest why. Early testing suggests that LG Display’s latest mobile OLED efforts are highly competitive in terms of brightness, has the deep blacks that we associate with Samsung’s OLED smartphones, along with vibrant colors that pop.
We’ll be taking the LG V30, the Galaxy Note 8, and a selection of other flagships into our new lab suite in the coming weeks to bring you an even closer look at how these cutting edge displays stack up against one another.