So up until now I’ve felt like the Galaxy Note 2 is really just a larger Galaxy S 3 with an active digitizer. But the 1280x720 HD SAMOLED display at 5.5 inches diagonal is where the Note 2 begins to strongly diverge from that trend. First off, it’s bigger than the Note’s HD SAMOLED which was 5.3" and 1280x800.

 


Galaxy Note 2 (left), Galaxy Note (right)

When I heard that Samsung was going to be doing a Note 2, I originally suspected that they would use the original Note’s display in conjunction with the hardware platform I outlined earlier. Instead, Samsung has gone with an entirely new revision of HD SAMOLED yet again for the Note 2, one that represents an interesting middle ground between a traditional RGB stripe like you’d see on an LCD and the RG BG Nouvoyance PenTile tech that we’ve seen countless times and iterated through a few different geometries to date.

With Galaxy Note 2, Samsung has gone with an entirely new subpixel rendering matrix, which I’ve heard was going to be called S Stripe. Instead of the previous PenTile tech which used two subpixels per logical pixel (either RG or BG), this new subpixel geometry uses 3 subpixels per pixel (RGB) but with a green subpixel above the red subpixel and a long vertical blue subpixel.

The reason for this change in geometry has always been an interesting one. The blue material has a lower luminous efficiency than the other colors, and thus requires either a larger area or higher drive power to match the equivalent green and red luminance. This is why you hear people saying the blue subpixel ages faster — sure, at the same size it ends up burning out faster due to this lower efficacy.

The mitigation is thus to craft a matrix that allows for a nonuniform geometry, and this one brilliantly does it without the tradeoff in longevity or loss of spatial resolution from going to two subpixels per pixel. The tradeoff that does get made is that subpixel smoothing only really gets two pixels to turn off - the blue, or the red and green unit. In the past the display driver could handle the RGBG unit cell and do font smoothing, from what I’ve seen the above is how the new one works as well.

I’m not complaining, this is a great tradeoff and makes sense for the resolution and size that Samsung has selected for the Note 2. Going with a PenTile RGBG layout at this size would not be desirable, instead the “S Stripe” layout runs with subpixels small enough that I can’t see them. It’s tempting to look at the 1280x800 of the Note and the 1280x720 of the Note 2 and assume it’s lower resolution, when in fact the Note 2 has more subpixels (2.05 MP vs 2.76 MP) and in spite of the size increase stays around the magical 1 arcminute subtense (1.073 arcminutes on Note 2).

Brightness (White)

The Note 2’s brightness unfortunately isn’t that high, but like always Samsung makes up for it with huge contrast from the black subpixels being almost entirely dark. I have a feeling this is still being very conservative for the panel for battery life concerns and to minimize both aging effects and burn-in.

Next up is color accuracy and calibration, where Samsung AMOLED has traditionally been very oversaturated — which looks vibrant and draws customers in at stores — but results in inaccurate rendering. We’re using Chris’ new suite here which is in CalMAN 5, I touched on the details in the iPhone 5 review.


 


 


Our target is sRGB, as Android doesn’t have a CMS, and the Galaxy Note 2 doesn’t stop the trend of SAMOLED having a gamut much larger than sRGB. At the same time however things could be much worse. I also measured the Galaxy Note 2 display at maximum brightness with Francois who said much the same thing - it isn’t alltogether bad among SAMOLED displays.

Color temperature at 200 nits is around 7000K but as the blue subpixel wears it will warm up and get closer and closer to 6500K. Overall the Galaxy Note 2 display makes some tradeoffs but ends up being quite appealing. There’s still something to be said for how contrasty AMOLED is even if it still is oversaturated compared to sRGB.

CalMAN Display Comparison
Metric iPhone 5 iPhone 4S HTC One X Samsung Galaxy S 3 Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Grayscale 200nits Avg dE2000 3.564 6.162 6.609 4.578 5.867
CCT Avg (K) 6925 7171 5944 6809 7109
Saturation Sweep Avg dE2000 3.591 8.787 5.066 5.460 7.986
GMB ColorChecker Avg dE2000 4.747 6.328 6.963 7.322 8.185

 

Camera Analysis - Video Cellular Connectivity, WiFi, GNSS
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  • barry spock - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    The longer I spend think about my own subjective limitations, the more I realise that the products from anyone but apple aren't getting a fair go.
    And this one's an interesting product to attempt to not pigeonhole. I'd think of it more as a media device than a phone. And so does the rest of south korea, as I watch them using these things on the subway -- they watch tv on them. They make calls using earbuds -- not holding a thing this size to their heads. And they rarely put it in their pockets -- it goes in a handbag (or a manbag)
    The bit about it not fitting in the F-150's "big Gulp" plastic cup holder speaks volumes about the culture it was written in.

    Different cultures will use these devices differently. I imagine Samsung won't fret if this isn't taken up in droves in the US, because after all, there's always china.

    Also, Anand, et al. *please* give us the ability to mod-down thoughtless comments such as the first one attached to this article.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, February 01, 2013 - link

    Please give us the power to wipe out the idiots who are stupid enough to double post, as if their comments are better than others comments, and as if we need to see them. Reply
  • Paulman - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    "One of the biggest factors young tech reviewers like myself forget is that visual acuity does diminish with age as the crystalline lens loses its ability to flex and accommodate, thus reducing how close one can focus."

    Ha ha, this is an optical engineer's way of explaining that old(er) people need reading glasses :P I had to wikipedia this, but apparently the medical term is "Presbyopia" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbyopia

    Can't wait for the next episode of the Anandtech Podcast, Brian!
    Reply
  • galaxynotetoo - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    Every feature that Galaxy Note 2 has, can be found in bigger screen tablets expect for the ability to make calls. The other big screens cost fraction of what Galaxy Note 2 costs. eg : 199 for Google Nexus, 329 for iPad mini. Why pay $700 for this crap Galaxy note 2 ? Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    Firstly, the obvious thing - to make calls. Duh.

    Secondly, no, it's not every feature. Pressure sensitive active pen digitizer is not found on any other current ARM tablet, and is a serious plus for some applications, i.e. drawing or even just handwriting. There's a reason it is called Note.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    You really created an account here just to say that? :|

    Miniaturisation doesn't come cheap. Fact is, though, they're probably taking decent margins on this too. We can thank Apple for setting up that pricing expectation and capitalism for making sure every other company follows suit.
    Reply
  • VooDooAddict - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    Been the first phone I've been excited about hitting sprint since the Palm Pre.

    Soon as it's available it will be replacing the launch Pre I'm still using.
    Reply
  • liffey - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    "Switching back and forth between the stylus and fingers for using the basic Android interactions is annoying"

    Um you do know that you can invoke the menu and back command with the S Pen, right? Hold the button and swipe left for "back", and swipe up for "menu" (while holding the button, of course).
    Reply
  • 996GT2 - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    iPhone 5 screen resolution is 1136 x 640, not 1136 x 960 as listed in the table. Reply
  • cokata - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    the razr i has been mentioned and benched here and in the ip5 review and at least on the cpu side of things it looks like the only good competition to the A6 Reply

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