The addition of in-cell touch technology has improved the display of the iPhone 5, but it still lags the Galaxy S III smartphone from chief rival Samsung when it comes to screen thinness and color gamut, according to the IHS iSuppli Display Materials and Systems Service from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS).
The iPhone 5’s display is just 1.5 millimeters thick, a 0.6-millimeter reduction from 2.1 millimeters for the iPhone 4S, according to measurements from the IHS iSuppli Teardown Analysis Service. Meanwhile, the color gamut of the iPhone 5 has risen to 72 percent of the NTSC standard, compared to 50 percent for the 4S.
Even so, this falls short of the Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III, which sports a display with a thickness of just 1.1 millimeters and a color gamut with full 100 percent NTSC, as shown in the tables below.
“As the first product with in-cell touch, the iPhone 5 represents a major achievement, improving the image quality and reducing the thickness of the smartphone compared to previous models,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, director for Small & Medium Displays at IHS. “And although the iPhone 5 still trails the Galaxy S III in the display specs race, the iPhone 5 overall remains thinner than the Galaxy S III, and its display color gamut is more than sufficient for most users. Such improvements on the iPhone 5 are consistent with Apple’s philosophy of selecting features designed to yield profitable products that deliver a superior customer experience, rather than of providing technology for technology’s sake.”
In-cell technology eliminates the standalone touch panel layers used in most smartphones and instead integrates the touch sensors into the liquid crystal of the liquid crystal display (LCD) stack, sharing common electrodes and transistors. The technology can reduce display module thickness by about 0.5 millimeters on average, reducing total smartphone thickness.
The iPhone 5 is 18 percent thinner than the 4S, at a total of 7.6 millimeters. While the display is thicker than for the Samsung Galaxy III, the iPhone 5 as a whole is 1 millimeter thinner than the Galaxy S III, which measures 8.6 millimeters in total. The Galaxy S III’s greater girth is due to other factors separate from the display, most likely the thickness of the battery.
Beyond thinning the display, in-cell’s elimination of the separate touch overlay layer allows more light to emit from the display without the intrusion of added refraction and glare of the additional touch layers. This helps the new display to enjoy a more vibrant and crisper image with improved color saturation than iPhone 4S.
The iPhone 5’s display still falls short of the NTSC color gamut mark achieved by the Galaxy III. However, from a user’s perspective, the lower color gamut measurement may not necessarily make the iPhone 5 display look worse than the Galaxy III. More accurate and realistic representation of image color and contrasts may be a result of better calibration, higher brightness and superior power efficiency of the display.
“Some user reviews indicate that colors presented on the Galaxy S III actually can look oversaturated and unrealistic,” Jakhanwal said. “While it may be interesting to compare the display specifications for the two phones, the actual front-of-screen viewing experience could diverge for different users.”
Display Power Issues
The Galaxy III employs an active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) display, in contrast to the low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) LCD) employed in the iPhone 5.
As AMOLEDs don’t use a backlight unit, they potentially have better power efficiency than LCDs. However, there are concerns about differential aging of organic materials, which affects OLED lifetime and power efficiency. And although display power consumption is important, overall battery life of the device will still be dependent on many other factors.
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