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

  • Wadzii22 - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Out of curiosity I ran linpack and Benchmark pi on my droid that's oc'd to 1ghz

    my benchmark pi score was 1280 and linpack gives me 17.24 mflops
  • strikeback03 - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Did you run them stock? As those numbers seem to be a ~4x improvement over what is shown here, which seems odd given the ~2x increase in clockspeed. Reply
  • Wadzii22 - Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - link

    with the phone completely stock my scores were basically the same as whats in the original article. Reply
  • jamyryals - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Please continue this type of in depth comparison with current and future hardware. PC hardware is all well and good, but it's all so fast now the mobile space is a much more interesting battle. Not to mention with how fast things are evolving there is the opportunity for a lot of content. Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    For eample, my droid purchased in early April came out of the box running at 600 MHz (though now it actually runs at up to 900 Mhz). My wife got hers in early June and hers is 600 MHz too and also came out of the box with Android 2.1 already on it. Reply
  • Wadzii22 - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    For whatever reason, setcpu always sees a stock droid's max at 600, but they do run at 550. I just got a new one yesterday after bricking my old droid, it showed the same thing. Reply
  • CharonPDX - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Nokia was the originator of the "sell unsubsidized smartphones direct" model, years before Apple or Google. You could get a Nokia N80 at CompUSA completely unlocked for $800 in 2006, a year before the unsubsidized iPhone. Reply
  • Stas - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    0.1 build with fixed WiFi and maps.

    LinPack - 12.2 (twelve point two)MFLOPS loads in 20 sec (default browser)

    'nuff said.
  • Stas - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    forgot to mention. the CPU is at 800Mhz. I've had it up at 900Mhz with bare Android build (leaked 2.2) and the performance seems no different, but no numbers, sorry. Reply
  • milli - Saturday, June 12, 2010 - link

    That's pretty wrong what you're saying there.
    Qualcomm didn't even license the A8 (nor will they ever).
    What they did license is the ARMv7 instruction set (and that's a huge difference). With that they made a custom implementation of the ARMv7 architecture. (BTW Qualcomm already stated in 2005 that they're an architectural licensee for ARM’s ARMv7 instruction set)

    There are many differences between Scorpion and A8.
    I'll quote from a certain article since i can't say it better:
    'Although Scorpion and Cortex-A8 have many similarities, based on the information released by Qualcomm, the two cores differ in a number of interesting ways. For example, while the Scorpion and Cortex-A8 NEON implementations execute the same SIMD-style instructions, Scorpion’s implementation can process128 bits of data in parallel, compared to 64 bits on Cortex-A8. Half of Scorpion’s SIMD data path can be shut down to conserve power. Scorpion’s pipeline is deeper: It has a 13-stage load/store pipeline and two integer pipelines—one of which is 10 stages and can perform simple arithmetic operations (such as adds and subtracts) while the other is 12 stages and can perform both simple and more complex arithmetic, like MACs. Scorpion also has a 23-stage floating-point/SIMD pipeline, and unlike on Cortex-A8, VFPv3 operations are pipelined. Scorpion uses a number of other microarchitectural tweaks that are intended to either boost speed or reduce power consumption. (Scorpion’s architects previously designed low-power, high-performance processors for IBM.) The core supports multiple clock and voltage domains to enable additional power savings."

    "Qualcomm claims that Scorpion will have power consumption of roughly 200 mW at 600 MHz (this figure includes leakage current, though its contribution is typically minimal in low-power processes). In comparison, ARM reports on its website that a Cortex-A8 in a 65 nm LP process consumes .59 mW/MHz (excluding leakage), which translates into about 350 mW at 600 MHz."

    With that said, i don't understand where the misconception about the Scorpion being an A8 started. Even Qualcomm states clearly on their own website that Scorpion is not licensed from ARM. They also state that they invested hundred of millions in creating their own core based on the ARMv7 instruction set.
    I hope now all the staff from Anand will stop saying that there's an A8 inside of Snapdragon. Or maybe you should even clarify that with a small article.

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