Screen Test: iPhone Vs. Nexus One – Who Has The Better Display?

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Much has been made of the Nexus One's cutting-edge Organic LED (or OLED) display, and how its emissive-display technology is a leap beyond the maxed-out static-backlight LCD display used by the iPhone.  But is cutting-edge (i.e. a work-in-progress) actually better than an older, established, and stable technology?

That's the question DisplayMate Technologies attempted to answer in a head-to-head display shootout between the Nexus One and iPhone.  The results were eye-opening, to say the least.

Displaymate first compared how each phone displayed high-rez 24-bit image files (including Mars photos from NASA).  The Nexus One consistently showed false contouring, image noise and banding, and artifacts, while the iPhone's display closely matched that of a studio reference monitor.

Even more shocking was the discovery that the Nexus One's screen supports only 16-bit color with 32 (red or blue) or 64 (green) intensity levels — common on cheaper, low-end devices, but totally unexpected in this reported "superphone."  By comparison, the iPhone (like computer and HDTV screens) supports 18-bit color, which with dithering can emulate 24-bit color — and a full 256 intensity levels, for a smoother, more realistic image.  And the Nexus' high-pixel-density OLED display, seemingly stunning on first view, proved to have many color and gray-scale accuracy errors, due to a combination of processing errors and poor resolution scaling.

The comparison report is itself still a work-in-progress: the first two parts (detailed reviews of the Nexus One and iPhone screens, respectively) are online, and a third part (a detailed point-by-point comparison) is still pending.  Nevertheless, it might serve as a wakeup call to Google to get a "Nexus Two" into the retail pipeline, stat.

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