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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  • dagamer34 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    On pg 15, Galaxy S uses a SGX 540 GPU, not 530. Other than that, great review! Reply
  • Synaesthesia - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Staggering review, you really are the most comprehensive and scientific reviewer around, bravo!

    Samsung have really impressed with this phone, in terms of how much effort they have invested in the hardware and software. One thing still stands out for me, the battery life. While good, it still doesn't hold a candle to the iPhone 4, as shown on the charts.
    Reply
  • LostViking - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    What do you mean?
    Its about 30% worse when web browsing (mostly because of the much larger screen I reckon), but better in the other tests.

    If you are one of those old timers who actually use the phone for talking the SGSII is about 30 better ;)
    When I am low on battery, and don't have access to a charger, that's usually what I would prioritize.
    Reply
  • xdrol - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    For me the mentioned Cat 5 limit looks reasonable - you don't get user-level 2.0 Mbps because of the overhead of the PDCP/RLC/MACd protocols (about 15% -> 2.0 Mbps is 1.7 Mbps for IP). Reply
  • wilky76 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Alot of people that have the Samsung Galaxy S2 are suffering from framerate problems when using either 720p or 1080p in low light including myself.

    What basically happens is when the camera tries to focus in lowlight the framerates drop to around 13fps, then jump back upto around 30fps again, basically making any HD video recording useless in low light because of the stuttering, the only fix that is known is to drop the exposure to -2 as this stop the stuttering, or use 480p when indoors or poor light.

    Some folks have returned their SGS2 because of this problem, only to receive another with the same problem.

    There has been a couple of camera firmware updates on Samung own app site, which to this date still hasn't sorted the problem out & in some cases people that weren't suffering from this problem, now have it after updating the camera firmware.

    Can any of you guys at Anandtech test your SGS2 in low light with either 720p or 1080p to see if the mobile you received for reviewing also suffer from this problem.

    But what is strange is that not everbody has the framerate problem, so it could be due to which sensor you get with your SGS2, and could proberly be sorted with a firmware update eventually.

    Anyways people with this problem and there is a few can be found in this post over at XDA

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1...
    Reply
  • DrSlump - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Hi, i have exactly the same problem with my samsung galaxy s2.
    I got casual stuttering (a frame loss) during normal light conditions and severe stuttering under low light conditions.
    As soon as the firmware raises the sensor gain to match the detected light, the framerate goes down to 25fps and when autofocus occours the framerate goes down to 13fps, and then returns back to 25fps when the autofocus is finished.
    I olso noticed that when i try to frame a tv or a monitor, severe banding occours. Even taking a video when the light source is a tv or a monitor, banding occours. Seems like the isp isn't able to compensate the frequency of the light source.
    In a lot of situations it's impossible to take a video due to the severe stuttering :(
    Any one of you has these problems? How to solve it?

    I would like to ask to the autor:
    did you notice some problem with the display? There is a thread in the xda-developers forum that speaks about the yellow tinting or faded out left side of the screen. Please can you report about this problem?
    Reply
  • B3an - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Why dont you just admit it's the best phone around hands down? :) Not just the best Android phone. It's clearly miles superior to the outdated iPhone 4.

    Shame you yanks have had to wait forever to get it, only to get 3 different versions that dont even look as good and have ridiculous names. I've been using a GSII since April and it's just unmatched.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    This yank got it on the UK launch day and i've been enjoying it since Reply
  • steven75 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    It's not better in battery life, audio quality, display resolution and sharpness, or the many ways that iOS is better (AirPlay, app selection AND quality), immediate OS updates, etc).

    Gread Android phone though for those interested in 4.3" displays, which definitely isn't everyone. Personally, I'd wait for the Prime.
    Reply
  • steven75 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Oh and outdoor display brightness, which even at 100% isn't a match for iPhone, but then it's even capped at 75% for temp reasons. Reply

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