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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  • Astri - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Great work, the difference is obvious! Cant wait for the release
    thanks for your reply. is good to know that is not hardware issue. it gives us hopes for quality gradients in future sw updates
    Reply
  • supercurio - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    I'm glad it works for you ;)

    Don't expect Samsung to change the screen rendering in an update because if some would prefer "Native", others would not after loosing some perceived sharpness even if it's an artificial one that creates halos and artifacts.
    Anyway the app is here, and free!
    Reply
  • Jon Irenicus - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Your audio section scared me about the audio quality, is there any chance the US sprint variant will use a different DAC? or get a tweaked version of the Yamaha DAC? Reply
  • supercurio - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    From dumps I received AT&T and Sprint versions are exactly the same for audio.

    T-Mobile, I'm not sure yet, I got some dumps from an non released device with a separate Yamaha headphone+speaker driver that looked like a potential T-Mobile Galaxy S II.
    No idea about the DAC itself today.
    Reply
  • Gnarr - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    "TouchWiz 4.0 is a much cleaner, less claustrophobic, and considerably less garish experience."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claustrophobia
    Reply
  • DeciusStrabo - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    "something feels claustrophobic" isn't an uncommon phrase for saying something feels small, cluttered and cramped. Reply
  • jigglywiggly - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    THIS IS THE MOST INDEPTH REVIEW FOR A PHONE EVAR Reply
  • Omid.M - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    And their childishness?

    Look what they've done to the American versions of the SGS2. Childish, for wanting their own "version" of an amazing phone. Why mess with a great thing? Oh, because you don't want to just compete on service--as you should--you want "exclusive" features on your version of the phone?

    Wish I was on AT&T so I could import the Int'l version.

    Brian,

    I'm honestly amazed at your 180. I recall you being a little "so what?" about the SGS2 (this is way back before summer 2011) and now it looks to be your favorite smartphone (I think). And we know you're a harsh critic :)

    I hope we get to see soon what the SGS3 might look like: will Samsung keep with the Exynos SoC and add LTE to compete with Krait? What will the next gen Mali GPU look like? Next Gen SAMOLED? So curious...and yet, we know an SGS3 wouldn't reach America for at least another 18 months...hopefully, VZW customers won't be let down by a Nexus Prime (and that includes bloat).

    The addition of Supercurio (Francois) is perfect; you have a talented dev who is passionate enough to explain to the layman how things work. He's helped me on more than one occasion when I had a Fascinate :)

    Great work, Anand, Brian, and Francois. One of the best reviews I've ever read on any product. No question.

    @moids
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Agreed. My main reason for purchasing the international version this time around was to receive more timely updates along with less restrictions.

    As for next gen, there is already a LTE version of SGS2 and ARM already announced the next gen Mali graphics quite some time ago. Regardless, no one knows if samsung will use mali's gpu on the SGS3 and hopefully the SGS3 will come in an ATT compatible flavor when it's released
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    I definitely admit that I was very *meh* about the phone after seeing it at MWC. It clearly has come a really, really long way, and now it's my absolute favorite Android device because of all those reasons outlined above - just incredible smoothness and huge performance. :)

    -Brian
    Reply

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