The other part of the story is Samsung’s mobile Digital Natural Image engine, or mDNIe, profile set on the SGS2. Numerous people have noticed that under Display -> Background Effect, lurks a page with a sample image and three presets - Dynamic, Standard, and Movie.

On previous Galaxy S devices there was a box in the camera app marked ‘outdoor viewing’ which increased brightness and contrast. I always wondered how that worked, and the answer is through mDNIe profiles. Inside /system/etc/ are a bunch of files prefixed with ‘mdnie_tune’ and then some more text, for example ‘mdnie_tune_camera_outdoor_mode’ and ‘mdnie_tune_standard_mode’. Of course, these are how the various settings are defined, and there are a bunch of them.

Inside are settings which control sharpening, saturation, and other things which are governed by mDNIe. For example, the mdnie_tune_ui_standard_mode file looks like this:

//start
0x0001,0x0000,  //
0x002c,0x0fff,  //DNR bypass 0x003C
0x002d,0x1900,  //DNR bypass 0x0a08
0x002e,0x0000,  //DNR bypass 0x1010
0x002f,0x0fff,  //DNR bypass 0x0400
0x003A,0x000d,  //HDTR DE_off CS : de on = d , de off = 9
0x003B,0x0001,  //DE SHARPNESS(0~1023)  off
0x003C,0x0000,  //NOISE LEVEL
0x003F,0x001e,  //CS GAIN 30
0x0042,0x0030,  //DE TH (MAX DIFF)
0x0028,0x0000,  //Register Mask
//end

Movie and Standard just differ in CS (Chroma Saturation) Gain (from 30 to 50), and dynamic boosts that to 300 along with another field whose purpose I’m not certain of. I’m told by Francois that Dynamic also changes white point through mDNIe by clamping and thus results in some dynamic range being lost. Unfortunately there’s no - everything off - mode with no sharpening or chroma gain that makes colors less oversaturated out of the box, though if you have root obviously you can change and experiment with these. Now that we’ve mentioned it, all measurements I’ve done on the SGS2 were in the Standard mode.

Now what about brightness across the spectrum of user-selected intensity percentages?

Bright SAMOLED

It’s redundant to show black brightness since each device measures 0 nits due to black pixels not emitting any light, so AMOLED remains super contrasty, even if brightness is about the same with SAMOLED+ as it was with SAMOLED. Thankfully the curve is nice and linear.

Display Brightness

On the big display graph though, SAMOLED+ still isn’t as bright as the competition, though again having infinite contrast does make the display subjectively awesome indoors.

Outdoors SAMOLED+ is about the same as the previous generation. It isn’t very easy to see the display contents outside in direct sunlight, but then again what phone does look as good outside as it does inside? SAMOLED+ as mentioned earlier still leverages the optical bonding benefits (fewer reflections) that SAMOLED brought, so if you were pleased with view-ability there expect much of the same with this update.

The only major issue outdoors is something else entirely. I noticed pretty quickly with the Infuse 4G and Droid Charge that outside in my climate’s environment (~100+F outdoor temps, lots of sunlight) that the phones would clamp brightness to about 75% to prevent overheating. This is in part a measure to protect the display panel and of course other internal components. I set out to find out whether SGS2 implements the same thermal restrictions, and it does.

I broke out my contactless IR thermometer and went outside into the midday sun on my patio and set the phone down. Overheating and clamping down the display brightness doesn’t take long in this climate, about 5–10 minutes will do it. At around 115F (~45C) surface display temperature you’ll get clamped to 75% maximum until temperature drops down. I actually subjectively don’t think SGS2 is as prone to overheating as the Charge or Infuse.

Some other people have reported SGS2 crashing or encountering a thermal shutoff after a certain point, so I braved the heat and stayed outside even longer using the device until it hit well over 140F (60C) and still no system shutdown or overheating happened. That’s not to say it isn’t possible, as the SGS2 clearly does have thermal monitoring, for example the following lines from dmesg suggest some thermal monitoring going on, though I definitely crossed these boundaries to no ill effects:

<6>[    0.047638] thr_low: 83, thr_high: 98  warn_low: 97 c warn_high 106
<6>[    0.047715] tq0_signal_handle_init
<6>[    0.047751] tmu_initialize: te_temp = 0x00000048, low 8bit = 72, 
high 24 bit = 0
<6>[    0.047765] Compensated Threshold: 0x7d
<6>[    0.098087] Cooling: 82c  THD_TEMP:0x80:  TRIG_LEV0: 0x89     
TRIG_LEV1: 0x99 TRIG_LEV2: 0xa0

Back to the display, next up are viewing angles, which the SGS2 thankfully preserves from the previous generation. I tossed the SGS2, SGS4G, and Optimus 2X in the lightbox and took pictures at various extreme angles. I realize the Sensation is a comparison point people are interested in, unfortunately that went back a while ago.

Viewing angles are awesome on all three - the SGS4G’s SAMOLED display (left), SGS2’s SAMOLED+ (middle), and Optimus 2X’s IPS display (right).

Another small thing about the SGS2’s SAMOLED+ is that I’ve noticed that high contrast images can be persistent for a few seconds. It isn’t burn-in, but a persistence that stays for a few seconds and can be very visible. For example, leaving the Android keyboard up (which is black, grey, and white) and dragging the shade down, a shadow of the keyboard remains visible until it fades after a few seconds. This persists even on other applications as well, and I can only hope doesn’t become something permanent if left up too long.

Wrapping up SAMOLED+ is difficult, because whether or not you like it over traditional LCD alternatives is ultimately a very subjective (and as I’ve learned in discussions, sensitive) matter. We’ve codified the differences between SAMOLED+ and previous generations, and other IPS displays, but really it’s impossible to communicate every subtle difference.

Personally, I prefer higher PPI IPS-LCD displays, though at 4.3“ SAMOLED+’s WVGA (800x480) isn’t a slouch, and the change from RGBG PenTile to an RGB stripe helps matters. Where WVGA starts to become a problem is at 4.5”. Scaling up area and increasing the diagonal size by 0.2“ doesn’t sound like a problem, but r^2 is a bitch, and at that size both the Android UI elements and subpixels look absurdly huge. Luckily, the international SGS2’s 4.3” is completely tolerable with WVGA.

MHL

Last but not least, the SGS2 supports HDMI out through USB MHL. For those that haven’t encountered the term before, MHL (Mobile High definition Link) is just a way of getting HDMI out through a low pin-count port alongside supplying power. So far, all MHL I’ve seen has worked over microUSB, but other interfaces possibly may support MHL in the future as well.

I had a Samsung MHL adapter laying around from a Samsung Infuse 4G, which has a microUSB port on the side for connecting to a charger, a full size HDMI port, and the microUSB connector which plugs into the host device. With all this connected, you can then get HDMI mirroring working, which does work on the SGS2.

I connected the SGS2 over HDMI up to an ASUS PA246Q and saw it negotiate a 1080i link and do HDMI mirroring flawlessly. Landscape is also supported, thankfully, and seems to work just like it should.

Super AMOLED+ Display Camera UI and Video Quality
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  • numberoneoppa - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Guys, that mysterious notch you write about is not for straps, it's for phone charms, and it's arguably my favourite feature of samsung phones. (In korea, phone charms can be used for more than just cute things, one can get a T-money card that will hang here, or an apartment key). Reply
  • Tishyn - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    I spend hours every week just browsing through reviews and tests comparing devices and vendors. This is one if the most interesting and most comprehensive review I've read for a veery long time.

    I especially enjoyed the rendering part and how it relates to the ultra mobile device market. Thumbs up!
    Reply
  • milli - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Brian / Anand, why are you so reluctant to test chips from this company? ZiiO tablets, sporting the ZMS-08, are available for a while now and i'm sure Creative would send you the new Jaguar3 tablet (ZMS-20) if you guys would ask for it.
    The ZMS-20 has 26 GFlops ... faster than anything you've tested till now. The ZMS-40 coming in Q4 doubles that number!
    I'm an old school IT technician and I for one don't understand your lack of interest. The GPU's in these chips are based on technology that Creative acquired with the 3DLabs purchase.
    Reply
  • rigel84 - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    Just a quick tip: You can take a screenshot by pressing the power and home button at the same time.

    If you double tap your home button it will bring the voice talk feature.

    While watching video clips just press the power button to disable the touch sensitive buttons.

    Swipe your finger to the left on contact name to send him a message
    Swipe you finger to the right on the contact name to dial the contact.

    To see all the tabs in the browser just pinch inside twice :)

    If you experience random reboots when you drop it on the table, or if you are leaning towards things or running, then try to cut a piece of paper and put it under the battery. It happens because the battery shortly looses connection to the pins. If you check XDA you can see that many people has this problem, and I had it too. I was experiencing many random reboots whenever I had it in my pocket, but after I pit a piece of paper below the battery they all disappeared.

    A few things...
    - GPS is horrible if you ask me. Unless I download the data before with gps-status then it takes ages. Mostly 15-30 seconds with 2.3.3 (no idea if the radio got updated in the release)
    - Kies AIR is HORRIBLE! It's on pair with realmedia's real player from 10 years ago. Crash on crash on crash and sluggish behavior.
    - I don't know whether it's the phone or not, but I've been missing a lot of text messages after I got my Galaxy S2. I'm on the same net, but along with the poor GPS reception I'm suspectiong the phone :(
    - There is a stupid 458 character limit on textmessages, and then they are auto-converted to an MMS message. There is a fixed mms.apk on XDA (requires root) or you can download something like Go SMS Pro (still free) on the market, which removes this stupid limit.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Thursday, September 15, 2011 - link

    Odd

    I haven't seen any posts about the battery disconnect issues and if you've been browsing the xda forum, probably saw my thread about dropping my phone on concrete twice...

    As for Kies AIR, i've used it twice and my expectation was low to begin and it wasn't that bad. Some things were definitely slow but it's a good start

    -GPS for me has always been solid. I even used it on multiple trips in less than ideal location, not a single glitch even with shoddy cell reception.
    Reply
  • ciparis - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    I've been using Sprint's SGS2 (Epic 4G) for less than a day, but already there are some annoying points which I'm surprised aren't mentioned in this review:

    1) The digitizer lags behind finger movement.
    In the web browser, when your finger moves, there is a disconnected rubber-band effect before the screen catches up with your finger. This is visible in the browsing smoothness video as well, and it's very noticeable in actual use. Coming from an iPhone 4, it feels cheap and broken.

    2) Back/Forward navigation often ignores the previous scroll point.
    If you spend some amount of time reading a page you arrived at from a link (it seems to be about 10 seconds or so), hitting back doesn't take you back where you were previously reading from -- instead of returning you to the page position where the link was, it drops you at the top of the page. This makes real web usage tedious. On the Sprint, the timing seems to be related to when the 4G icon indicates sleep mode: hit back before the radio sleeps and you are returned to the right spot. In actual use, this rarely happens.

    3) The browser resets the view to the top, even after you've started scrolling.
    When loading a page, there's a point in which the page is visible and usable, but it's technically still loading (which can go on for quite a awhile, depending on the page). It's natural to start reading the page and scrolling down, but typically the phone will randomly jerk the scroll back up to the top of the page, sometimes several times before the page is done. This is unbelievably annoying.

    I suppose expecting an Apple level of polish prior to release is unrealistic, but Samsung seems hell-bent on positioning themselves as an Apple-level alternative; even the power brick looks like they took the square Apple USB charger, colored it black, and slapped their logo on it. The point being, they're inviting direct comparison, and it's a comparison their software team isn't ready to deliver on -- certainly not out of the box.
    Reply
  • ciparis - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    How are you supposed to use this phone if the keyboard is covering up the text fields, there's no "next" button to get to the next field, you can't see what you're typing, and there's no button to make the keyboard go away?

    Case in point: go to Google News and click on Feedback at the bottom of the page. There's no scrolling room at the bottom, so the keyboard obscures the fields; I was unable to send feedback to Google that their news site was opening every link in a new bowser window on a mobile phone (...) despite my account having the preference for that set to "off", because I couldn't navigate the form fields.
    Reply
  • mythun.chandra - Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - link

    Just realized there are no numbers for the Adreno 220 in the GLBench 2.1 offscreen tests...? Reply
  • sam46 - Saturday, October 01, 2011 - link

    brian,please tell me which one of these smartphones is the best.i wanna purchase one of them so,pls help me in deciding. Reply
  • b1cb01 - Wednesday, October 05, 2011 - link

    I love the green wallpaper on the first page of the review, but I can't find it anywhere. Could someone point me to where I could find it? Reply

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