Display - qHD 4.3"

I went over this in our preview piece, but the Bionic literally uses the same display as the Droid X2. It’s a 4.3" qHD (960 x 540) panel with an RGBW PenTile subpixel matrix. The goal of PenTile in RGBW is to affect more light throughput at a given backlight brightness than a traditional RGB stripe. It seems simple enough in theory - R, G, and B filters in an LCD all incur losses, and having a white subpixel is an easy way to increase total throughput with a lower backlight level. Luminance gets mapped to the white subpixel, chrominance gets mapped to RGB, and in theory you get the same image with fewer incurred losses, and can drive the panel with less backlight power.


 
RGBW PenTile on the Motorola Droid Bionic

The side effect is that, like RGBG PenTile which we saw in Samsung’s AMOLED and SAMOLED, the grid is offset and thus renders vertical elements in a unique fuzzy manner. From far away enough, those offset elements look relatively homogenous or straight, but up close is where you can notice things aren’t a nice, straight grid. In other terms, instead of 3 subpixels per pixel in a normal RGB stripe, RBGW PenTile uses 2 subpixels per pixel. Nouvoyance also explains all of this on their own RGBW page.

I have to admit that I found RGBG PenTile distracting, but RGBW PenTile not nearly as much on these newer devices. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to it from seeing it crop up so many times now. It’s more noticeable on the Droid X2 and Bionic purely because the logical pixels are larger - same resolution, larger display (4.3“ as opposed to 4.0”), however.

Motorola earned something of a reputation for including good IPS displays in the original Droid all the way through the Droid 2. PenTile or not, the display does post good brightness and contrast numbers in our measurements with an i1D2 as always.

Display Brightness

Display Brightness

Display Contrast

I also measured display brightness and white point as a function of brightness selected from the settings menu. This is something we’ve been doing for a while now, and it’s actually pretty cool to see the Bionic’s lines pretty much lie right atop the X2’s - for once, everything does make sense. Viewing angles and outdoor viewing quality is basically identical to what I saw on the X2, which is to say pretty darn good.

I like the Bionic’s display if nothing else because it’s qHD, even if this display is effective qHD resolution through RGBW PenTile rather than an RGB stripe. Higher dot pitch through any means necessary is something I’m ok with, and there are just so many places that qHD gives more breathing room than WVGA in Android.

WiFi, GPS, Audio Quality, Speakerphone Camera - Still and Video
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  • Jamezrp - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Still going through the full review now...obviously quite a bit to get to. But I did want to say that Anand's first video review with the Apple Cinema Display was intriguing, and I enjoyed watching it. But this one, Brian...it just lacks the humanity. Seeing someone on the screen actually made me interested in watching, even with a complete lack of movement. Not sure if anyone else agrees, but if you guys are going to do video, I'd like to see faces talking intelligently, like you most certainly can. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I've been doing videos in this format for a while now to show off the phone and keep it cropped nicely, but going forwards we're trying to find a way to merge the two styles.

    Doing something like what Anand usually does will require telepresence of some kind, however, but it's indeed a format we are working on.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • jackka - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Being able to see a talking face shouldn't matter much for phone reviews. People want to see the actual phone up close and in detail.

    It's not like we're watching the news or a talk show. The current format is simple and effective at its job. While I wouldn't mind more personality in the video, I definitely wouldn't trade it for any bit of the view or the detail of the actual phone that is being reviewed.

    Much thanks for the video and the review, by the way.
    Reply
  • Johnnn3433 - Saturday, November 05, 2011 - link

    Is 4G LTE Speed Faster Than 4G or Even Faster Than 3G?
    www.fourgltephones.com
    Reply
  • Jamezrp - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    No worries, I totally get what you mean. I've stayed away from the camera for years...and every time I think of picking it up and putting myself on the screen, I stop myself for way too many reasons. I just think that you guys are clearly articulate enough to express exactly what need be said in a video, perhaps without even showing much of the product itself.

    Then again, it may depend on the product in question. I guess that still needs to be tested.
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    Bad idea. Sure it's nice to see a face, maybe you want to use PIP by lockergnome does, but the review is about the device. You want to see how the device looks, how it interacts, it's something visual. You can get away with doing that for something like an SSD, CPU, or RAM, but if you're doing a video about a device that takes visual input or gives visual output, you better include it in the video. Reply
  • Jamezrp - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I've had the Bionic myself for a bit now, testing it...the biggest problem I've had (besides battery life) are the occasional software hiccups, which I didn't see you didn't seem to have Brian, or at least didn't mention. The worst is when I lose my cell data connection, the Bionic won't start up that connection again, period. I need to put it in sleep mode and wake it up, or reboot it entirely. Not even airplane mode switching fixes that.

    Other quirks include the awful shortcut-adding method, no settings in the drop-down menu, and a few more which escape me because it's late. On my model it even reads only 8GB of onboard memory, plus the 16GB card. The more I investigate, the more I think my model may be slightly defective...

    Have you experienced any of these software problems?

    I'll also add that I've had nearly identical benchmark scores. But I don't have the laptop dock...any plans on adding a section for that?
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I honestly haven't experienced any of those issues at all - I've lost cellular data and had it come back no problems many times. Handover remains a problem for many of the LTE handsets however, where you'll either get stuck on EVDO until you reboot.

    Does airplane mode fix it at all? Sometimes these things really only can be remedied by a hardware swap, unfortunately.

    No plans to add a section related to the laptop dock since Motorola didn't sample us one. However I'm told this is exactly the same as the Atrix, you can check out Anand's experience with that in his review though: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4165/the-motorola-at...

    -Brian
    Reply
  • bplewis24 - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    You may have a lemon, because I don't have any of those issues. Reply
  • Hubb1e - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Mine has been flawless as well. Sounds like a lemon. The extended battery turns this into a great phone for power users and doesn't add that much bulk. I'm very happy with mine. Reply

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