Screen - Display

Both the N900 and Motorola Droid use traditional LCD displays. Of course, the interesting comparison points are the HTC Incredible and Nexus One displays, which use AMOLED. Though they advertise the same resolution, they do so using a proprietary RGBG grid marketed under the trade name 'PenTile' while the traditional LCDs use an RGB bayer grid pattern.

It remains an interesting point of contention whether the PenTile pattern offers superior spatial resolution than the traditional bayer grid pattern. Ultimately one needs to take into account the human eye system and subsequent response to really make a definitive answer. The AMOLED display is incredibly contrasty, so much so that I measured the black level as 0. That's right, 0 - meaning our contrast is effectively infinity. In fact, that makes sense - AMOLED subpixels are turned off when displaying black by nature of how they work. However, the white point I measured seems too low - interestingly, this is probably a result of the unique subpixel arrangement.

LCD versus AMOLED up close - 100% Crops

Personally, I can notice the difference in dithering and can discern the unique subpixel arrangement, but I know what to look for. For me, not being able to see the pattern or an offset screen door effect makes the Motorola Droid or N900 displays the better choice.

But if contrast and brightness are what matter, the AMOLED blows the competition away.

Top to bottom: Nokia N900, Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Incredible

Side by side, the Motorola Droid and AMOLED display on the Incredible seemed just as bright, with the Incredible just edging out the Motorola Droid. Having played with two AMOLED displays, it appears like the displays are very oversaturated - perhaps at the expense of being accurate. Take a look at the yellows and oranges in the AnandTech webpage - it's easy to see that they're more saturated. I'm still trying to come up with a foolproof way to measure color accuracy, however.

The N900 isn't quite as bright or contrasty as either of the two phones. It's entirely possible that this is due to the resistive screen versus the two capacitive digitzers. Note that I'm positive the AMOLED display on the Incredible is causing some sort of measurement error to occur on my i1D2 colorimeter, as it definitely appears substantially brighter than the Motorola Droid. It's highly likely that the measurement is being skewed because of the unique PenTile arangement, or something inherent in the AMOLED display technology.

The HTC Droid Incredible is notably absent from the display contrast graph because contrast is... well... infinite in this circumstance. Or at least indeterminate. Whatever the case, AMOLED delivers the absolute best contrast possible. It's really amazing in person.

Outdoors, however, the N900 is an obvious winner - just look at the direct sunlight example down below. The AMOLED display on the Incredible is more difficult to read in indirect sunlight, and very challenging to look at in direct sunlight.

Outdoors in the shade
Outdoors in direct sunlight

One last thing I'd like to note is that I've read in more than a few articles some claims that the AMOLED display is readable with polarized glasses - that there aren't any angles where there is complete extinction like with normal LCDs. This is false; rotate any AMOLED screen around, and brightness will still fall off following cosine squared like any other analyzing polarizer.

Smartphone Camera Showdown OMAP 3430 Performance


View All Comments

  • Zebo - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    with 750mhz processor convex keys and ditching the lame D pad making this the best smart phone for my use talking 5-6 hours a day plus on best network instead of T or TM.

  • krazyfrog - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Dude, you chat like an eight year-old lol. Reply
  • CityBlue - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    The latest Maemo5 PR1.2 does bring a welcome improvement to battery life, in some cases as much as 50% improvement to standby time.

    The recently released Opera Mobile on the N900 is lightning fast - it would be interesting to see how that performs in your comparison tests, or the latest Fennec (Firefox Mobile 1.1). The stock MicroB browser is beginning to look a little long in the tooth what with all the Javascript run-time improvements in competing browsers, but it does still offer the most complete web experience on pretty much any mobile device.

    Overall though, a very good and welcome review of Maemo5 which is much misunderstood by a world obsessed with Android and iPhone.
  • achipa - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Two small corrections:
    Nokia's next MeeGo device is still going to be ARM (MeeGo is a two-platform OS, ARM and Atom), if there is a Moorestown device far along in the pipelines, it's not Nokia's.
    PR1.2 is very likely not the last update. Nokia has pledged to deliver QtMobility (the mobile device Qt APIs) in a future update, and there is an active Qt4.7 branch for Maemo5 which also suggests work is being done there.
  • The Solutor - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Not all the Droid/Milestone's keyboard are flat.

    This is my milestone (bought in december).

    So there's no need to wait droid 2 to get the raised keys.
  • Brian Klug - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Interesting... looks like they definitely identified that issue somewhere between finishing the CDMA 'Droid' design and the GSM Milestone. Cool stuff!

  • strikeback03 - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    I read that elsewhere as well. Would be nice if the verizon stores got the newer keyboard models out on display to try Reply
  • BoyBawang - Sunday, June 13, 2010 - link

    Sorry to break your heart dude but the ones with raised keyboard were the early builds. Motorola changed it to flat after reported sliding problems with the raised design Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, June 14, 2010 - link

    Actually one of my friends got a Moto Droid Thursday and I had a chance to play with it Friday, it did feel like they had improved the key feel slightly. IIRC the Droids on display had concave keys, this one was slightly convex. Reply
  • solipsism - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    I understand that's because they are in the same package is the reason why you need the BT to be on to get FM, but that can't be too common. After all, most smartphones seem to have WiFi and BT(+EDR) and FM all the same transceiver.

    For comparison, the iPhone 3GS uses a <a href=" BCM4325</ a>

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now