One of the standout features on the SGS3 is the 4.8" HD SAMOLED display, which has an effective resolution of 1280x720. Like other Samsung devices, the name tells you almost everything you need to know: HD connotes 720p, S for Super means the stack is optically bonded with fewer air gaps (and thus fewer fresnel 4% back reflections), and the lack of Plus means it’s an RGBG PenTIle subpixel matrix.

First off, it’s clear to me that the SGS3 display is a substantial improvement on the Galaxy Nexus display, which was 4.65" diagonal and also 720p HD SAMOLED. The problems that I talked about in the Galaxy Nexus display are basically completely absent in the SGS3. There’s no longer any mura (luminance variance which looks like noise) or a weird purple cast in the greys, two things that are still present on the Galaxy Nexus. I suspect that moving to a larger display with the same resolution (and thus larger subpixels) might have helped mitigate some of the mura, and in addition this appears to be a completely new revision of the process with none of those problems.


Outdoor viewing angles are pretty darn good

I think it’s also worth discussing PenTile once more - specifically in the context of whether or not you can see the pixels. At this point, I don’t think we need to go over what it is in much detail, but that it uses two sets of two subpixel units to achieve higher effective resolution than an RGB stripe. There are two variants - RG, BW which I’ve seen in a few Motorola LCD displays (that are Samsung), and RG, BG, which is the more common variant that is in all the AMOLED panels without the “plus” suffix.

The implementations that I complained loudest about were really the Nexus One and Nexus S / Galaxy S, where AMOLED was still somewhat in its infancy, and RG, BG was both a way to increase subpixel lifetime before fading took place (according to Samsung), and achieve a higher logical resolution with fewer subpixels than an RGB stripe would require. For that reason, you can’t really just evaluate a display with some boolean is garbage / not garbage based on the presence of PenTile alone. In theory, if the logical two-pixel cell is itself smaller than human visual acuity, then you shouldn’t be able to see it, and seeing the pixels is what drove me crazy about those two phones.

I present the following graph, which has the angular subtense in arcminutes along the stripe (when a device is held portrait, this is the x direction) of one logical pixel. That is to say, two subpixels if we’re talking about an RGBG PenTIle display, or three for an RGB display. For reference, human visual acuity is most often cited as being around 1 arcminute for the human vision system corrected to 20/20, which isn’t perfect vision (20/15 or slightly better is). Anything below that should be indistinguishable at a distance of 12 inches (standard viewing distance).

Display Pixel Subtense

This is what I’m talking about when I say that in implementations such as the SGS3, even though PenTile is present, the logical pixel is still smaller than visual acuity, and the subpixels are half that. There’s still a case to be made for whether you can see fringing on black text on a white background to some extent, but personally I cannot see it.

So how is the display in other terms, such as brightness, color rendering, and viewing angles? For this I turned to the combination of my display colorimeter (still an i1D2), ColorHCFR, and Francois’s excellent Voodoo Screen Test Patterns.

When it comes to brightness, I found that oddly enough the T-Mobile and AT&T devices differed by a measurable and repeatable margin. Possibly these are from completely different batches, possibly there is some optimization done for the display brightness dynamic range to conserve battery - I’m not sure. Either way, it’s there, but the SGS3 is thankfully brighter than the Galaxy Nexus, though it still seems to be clamped to a fairly conservative number.

Brightness (White)

I measured blacks a few times and tried to see if I could get a reading on whether the SGS3 also has a slight DC bias (not fully off), but still couldn’t get anything. If it’s there, I haven’t noticed it yet.

In the Color HCFR testing, we can see that gamma looks very weird and nonlinear across the greys, going from around 2.4 down to 1.2, I have no idea what’s going on here. Color temp is thankfully a bit more controlled, at just under 7000K, and relatively flat.

I measured both devices after seeing that there was variance, and uploaded the color.chc files for both the AT&T and T-Mobile model for people with HCFR installed to check out. I’ve also made two galleries for the respective panels. I’ve heard really good things about the International SGS3 from Francois (supercurio), but haven’t measured it yet. I guess these initial numbers make me suspect that like SGS2 the USA variants have differences in the display rendering. I will say that over a range of brightnesses the SGS3 seems to have much less of the color shift compared to other AMOLEDs I’ve seen in the past.

Camera - Video Cellular, WiFi, GNSS, Sound
POST A COMMENT

107 Comments

View All Comments

  • antef - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    I don't believe "context menu" is the right term here. We're not discussing context menus - that would be something related to your *exact* context, such as long-pressing a row in a list and getting some options. What we're discussing is the app's "primary" menu that holds whatever could not fit on the main UI surface. In that sense, both the legacy menu and the action bar "overflow" are going to hold similar things, so what they contain is not really an item of debate. The main problem with the fixed Menu key, as Impulses said, is that it's "hidden" - since it's always present, there is really no indication that an app needs it or not, and it's also off-screen and thus doesn't feel cohesively tied to the rest of the app's UI. Action overflow, meanwhile, only appears when needed and right alongside other related functions.

    HTC switched to the new layout but unfortunately their use of physical buttons necessitates the nasty "full row menu button" for legacy apps. And I bet you that Samsung only stuck with the Menu key because they were too lazy to rethink parts of TouchWiz's UI - it clearly is a carryover from Gingerbread and they've shown before they don't put a lot of polish into their software. In that sense, this device is just stuck with that button because Samsung did not try to design a better user experience, not because they genuinely think this is the better way to go.
    Reply
  • themossie - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    I understand what you mean, and "primary" menu is definitely a better term! However, the "action overflow" on-screen button which Google wants to replace the older "primary" menu (menu button) is not an improvement.

    "Action Overflow" is not intended to be an actual settings menu. With "Action Overflow", Google basically says "Hey guys, you don't need 'settings' any more - just 'buttons you won't press that often." They then allow developers to put the action bar in 3 different places (http://developer.android.com/design/patterns/actio... so there's no longer consistent button placement.

    The biggest problem with the menu button (for new users) was the lack of contextual cues. ICS ironically manages to fix this even as it deprecates the menu.

    At this point, I'm way outside the scope of a phone review's comment sections, so I'll leave some food for though (discussion, not favoring a particular approach)
    http://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/uda99/dea...
    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/9286822/how-to-...
    Reply
  • antef - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    Action Overflow is not intended to be an actual settings menu, but neither is legacy menu! it was never intended as a "settings" or "options" menu...literally just a menu to put anything you want. In this sense Action Overflow is exactly the same, only commonly used items don't have to be in the menu and instead can be directly on the action bar. It completely fixes the discoverability issue since the 3-dots are right there next to other icons you're already using. It leads you to it and it appears part of the app's UI.

    Thanks for the links. :)
    Reply
  • synaesthetic - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    Google was smoking crack when they got rid of the menu button. I installed a custom ROM onto my Nexus to make the menu button come back.

    I have never used a real serious app that didn't have a contextual menu. Never. And the "ICS friendly" apps that use the dotdotdot in-app menu like to put them in really obnoxious places... like the TOP OF THE SCREEN.

    Holy carp Google, this phone is already huge, you want me to drop it trying to hit that menu key with my thumb?

    The SGS3 having a menu button makes me want it EVEN MORE.
    Reply
  • antef - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - link

    I do have to tilt my Nexus forward a bit to reach up there with my thumb, but this is no different than having to reach up there for anything else, including the main action icons which are going to be up there no matter what.

    It is true that most apps used legacy menu, but still, nothing has to. That makes the very idea of an always present button silly. The nav bar should stick to system-wide navigation as it does on the Nexus and leave things pertaining to an app to be on the app's UI surface. The OP of the Stack Overflow link said it best:

    "This [the overflow button] seems much more intuitive for users than throwing them into a separate menu list that requires the user to jump from a touch(screen) interaction to a button based interaction simply because the layout of the ActionBar can't fit them on the bar."

    What he's saying is the on-screen controls and off-screen controls are different UI "sections" that shouldn't intermingle during the course of using an app. An app's controls should all be available within the app's UI. It's more cohesive and straightforward. In practice, it only ever really appears in the top right or bottom right, and most of the time the top right. It's not jumping all over from app to app like some people like to suggest.
    Reply
  • 8er - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Menu button is good.

    Physical home button, even better. It is huge selling point for me.

    Side bar. I do not comprehend how anyone can say 'insert button name here' is bad. It looks like a search button and it searches or a menu buttons bring up menus, or a home buttons brings you home, and someone is confused?

    If the above is true then that person is helpless. I will not apologize for sounding crass, but that person gets left behind. You are not left starving on an island kind of crass. If you do not understand what selecting an icon might do then a smart phone is too much for you.
    Reply
  • robinthakur - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Yes, this totallyl! Coming from an iPhone, the long press to access multitasking is really slow and rubbish, I wasn't sure whether this is the same across all Android handsets. It doesn't help that on iOS, the commands are flipped and long press is Siri with double tap or four finger upwards swipe being multitask! The use of the Menu button seems haphazard as it isn't obvious which apps use it (or even which parts of the apps) and which ones don't. Reply
  • THX - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    Folks on Head Fi are worried that the S4 chipset will strip out the Wolfson DAC. Any word what sound chip is inside the US Galaxy S3? Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    Does the international version still have a Wolfson DAC? I know the SGS2 and many Tegra 2 devices did, haven't really kept up with that aspect of phones but I know a lot of people really liked that DAC because of the untapped potential in it (and the Voodoo app that it). Have they found anything particularly alarming about the One X's DAC or sound tho? (gimmicky Beats EQ aside) HF to ride their FOtM choices pretty hard and in the process anything else is deemed simply incomparable. Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    that should've read "HF tends to ride" Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now