One of the highlights of SGS2 is its 4.3“ SAMOLED+ display, which we’ve seen before on phones like the Droid Charge, and a 4.5” version of on the Samsung Infuse 4G. Though the panel is the same as what we’ve seen in the past, the controller and software are different.

As a quick refresher, Samsung has now passed through three variants of AMOLED. The first was straight up AMOLED which we saw on phones like the Nexus One and Incredible in a 3.7“ WVGA format with RGBG PenTile. The next was Super AMOLED, which was 4.0” WVGA with PenTile and adorned Galaxy S. The main improvements with Super were integration of the digitizer with top glass and use of optically transparent adhesive to reduce air gaps and subsequent fresnel reflections that add glare and reduce transmissivity. The net effect of that was improved outdoor readability and potentially some power savings from losing less light to back reflections.

Left: Super AMOLED Plus, Right: Super AMOLED

So now we’re up to Super AMOLED Plus (SAMOLED+), so what does this add? Well first, size is now 4.3“ or 4.5” (depending on what tickled some carrier’s fancy), and resolution is still WVGA (800x480), but the big change is that PenTile RGBG is gone. In its place is a standard RGB stripe. I’ve been rather critical of RGBG PenTile in the past purely because it emulated higher effective resolutions by using fewer subpixels (2 per logical pixel) and as a result had a characteristic grain in some circumstances. On AMOLED especially it wound up being distracting more than it was novel, and on 4" displays, it seemed that subpixels were visible with the naked eye and average visual acuity. Furthermore there were some issues with an offset pattern like RGBG and the UI direction Android was taking. Single pixel wide UI elements, some text, and solid primary colors were the main culprits where RGBG could, without considerable scrutiny, look characteristically grainy.

So why is it gone now? The big reason is probably because a corresponding move to a larger panel increases the size of those subpixels, and no doubt 4.3“ WVGA with PenTile would look even more grainy despite having the same ”effective“ resolution. Four inches was pushing it for a grid that started life at 3.7”, and 4.3“ probably was a step too far. In addition, subpixels are also correspondingly larger in the 4.3” RGB stripe (and the process mature enough now) that certain color subpixels being more prone to failure than others (and this needing to be sized appropriately) should no longer be a concern. Samsung also claims that power drain has been reduced in SAMOLED+ by almost 20% from the previous generation, no doubt partially thanks to fabrication maturity and changes made that come with better understanding of the process.

The same benefits apply with SAMOLED+ as the previous generations though - absolutely black blacks due to the subpixels not emitting any light in the off state, and potentially super vibrant colors (if calibrated properly). Unfortunately the few issues we saw with SAMOLED+ on other phones continues here as well - white point that varies with brightness level, a chance of overheating, and a bit of lingering sharpening.

Let’s start with the first one, which a lot of users have dubbed ‘yellowing’. For a while now we’ve been gathering white point data at various brightness levels. Obviously we did the same thing with SGS2.

White Point Tracking

I’ve measured brightness (full-screen white and black) and white point at six brightness levels on the SGS2. Before I measured the SGS2, I noted that subjectively there’s the most visible change in color temperature after you dip below the 50% brightness mark. To that extent, I took more measurements below that halfway point. I also tossed in the Samsung Infuse 4G (which we received but didn’t formally review) which has a 4.5" SAMOLED+ display that no doubt is identical to what’s headed to the Sprint and T-Mobile SGS2 variants, though with a different display controller. I also tossed in the Samsung Galaxy S 4G as a SAMOLED data point, and the Nexus One as an AMOLED data point, just so you can see how things have changed over the now 3 generations of AMOLED panels Samsung has shipped.

The data bears out the effect that numerous subjective parties have noticed - SGS2’s display temperature gets warmer at lower brightnesses, and varies between 7328K at 0% brightness and 8600K at 100% brightness. It’s enough of a delta in white point to be unfortunately very visible to the naked eye. There’s also an interestingly large amount of variance between the three SAMOLED+ phones we’ve measured, though the same shape curve is just translated around for the Infuse, the Charge appears to be very blue everywhere. Bear in mind again that the SGS2 uses a different display controller than the previous generation of devices.

Applications and Storage Partitioning Super AMOLED+ Display Continued


View All Comments

  • VivekGowri - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    I literally cannot wait to read this article, and I similarly cannot wait for SGS2 to launch in the US. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    You guys don't get early access to drafts? Reply
  • niva - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    I own an original Galaxy S, until it's been proven that Samsung updates to the latest Android within a month after major releases I will not buy anything but a Nexus phone in the future (assuming I even go with Android). By the time that decision has to be made I'm optimistic there will be unlocked WP7 Nokias available. Reply
  • Havor - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Seriously , whats the problem, I was running 2.2 and 2.3 when they came out, could have them sooner, I just dont like to run roms with beta builds.

    So you never heard of Rooting and Custom Roms?

    Its the nature of companies to have long and COSTLY eternal testing routs, done mainly by people with 9 to 5 jobs, as delivering buggy roms is bad for there name, but then so is not updating to but its lots less hurtful, as most people dont care or know any better.

    Next to that if your phone is a phone is customized with extra crapeware by your provider it can be that it takes months before you get a update even do Samsung delivered one a long time ago.

    The rooting scene is totally different, its done by nerds with passion for what they do, and yes the early/daily builds have bugs but also get mouths quicker reported and fixed by the scene.
    And imho are the final updates just as stable as the factory builds.

    Dont like how your Android is working?
    Stop bitching and fixed your self, its not that hard, as it is a OS platform, just make sure you can root your phone, before you buy it.

    The following website explains it all.
  • vision33r - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    If it's your personal phone, you can do whatever you want. However like some of us here with jobs that let us pick phones. One requirement is the phone has to be stock and no rooting allowed.

    Samsung is about the worst of the 3 makers in terms of software updates.
  • niva - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Seriously calm down, I've heard plenty about rooting and custom roms but phone hackery is not something I'm interested in right now. I don't have the time or energy for it. I shouldn't have to manually go through rooting and updating my phone, especially when security issues are involved.

    I like the way 2.2 is working on the SGS. I bought this phone from a friend who upgraded and it's not something I would've paid the retail price for. I've not run into anything so far that's made me actually bother with the rooting and manual upgrade process. I've not read into rooting the phone or updating it, but I'm sure if I get into it this will take me a long time (hours/days) which I shouldn't need to sacrifice to run the latest version of the OS.

    From the political standpoint the blame is both on Samsung and T-Mobile apparently in terms of getting the new revisions out.

    From my personal standpoint I despise all companies who do not use the default Android distro, running skins and secondary apps, on the phones they ship out. While some of the things they do are nice, it slows down their ability to keep up with android revisions.

    On the other hand, my wife's Nexus (original one) updates faster than internet posts saying Android 2.3.x has been rolled out. It's friggin awesome. She had one problem with battery draining really fast after a recent upgrade but I managed to fix that after a couple of hours of forum searching and trying different things.

    So it's simple, if I will buy another Android in the future, it will be a Nexus phone, where I know from personal experience that everything works in terms of having the latest and greatest. Notice the Nexus S is made by Samsung, it's for the most part identical to the phone I have, yet gets the updates immediately and doesn't have the known security problems I'm exposed to.
  • ssj4Gogeta - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Well, the international version got 2.3.3 around ~3 months ago here (and earlier for other countries). Reply
  • poohbear - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    vision33r u dont know what you're talking about. People bitch and complaina bout software updates, but how are the quality of those updates? when its updated too soon there are bugs and ppl complain, updated later ppl complain about the wait times. I remember last year Motorola said they're not updating their XT720 to android 2.2., they're leaving it at 2.1. S korea Motorola was the only branch that decided to do it, but guess what? 2.2 was too much for the hardware in the XT720 to handle, and it ran slooooow! XT720 users all over complained about it, but the reality is the phone couldnt handle it. 90% of smartphone users want something stable that works, they dont care about having the latest and greatest Android build. So if Samsung errs on the side of quality and takes more time to release stable quality software, then all the power to them! Reply
  • anishannayya - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Actually, if updates are your hard-on, then you'd likely be looking at Motorola in the future (due to the Google acquisition).

    The entire reason why the Nexus lines of phones are quick to get updates is because the are co-developed with Google. As a result, these phones are the ones the Google developers are using to test the OS. When it is ready to go, it is bug free on the device, so Samsung/HTC can roll it out immediately.

    At the end of the day, any locked phone is plagued by carrier bloatware, which is the biggest slowdown in software release. Just buy an unlocked phone, like this one, in the future.
  • ph00ny - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    It's awesome to see this article finally
    I'm glad François Simond aka supercurio contributed to the article

    Btw that slot on the left is for the hand strap which is very popular in asia for accessory attachments

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