Display - qHD RGBW PenTile

Probably the most significant change (other than Tegra 2) between the X and X2 is of course the display. As we mentioned before, that has been upgraded from a 4.3” FWVGA (854 x 480) IPS LCD to a qHD (960 x 540) LCD with the same diagonal size. What’s special about the X2’s screen, however, is that it comes with an RGBW PenTile subpixel rendering layout. 

We’ve talked about the RGBG PenTile subpixel structure before in the context of devices which came with AMOLED or Super AMOLED displays. The chief complaint back then was that black text on webpages and UI elements didn’t always look super sharp. RGBW is a different layout with different purpose, and dare I say different results. 

A 100% crop of the AT homepage on the Droid X2's RGBW display

As its name implies, RGBW PenTile includes a fourth, white, subpixel. The idea here is that light throughput for the panel can be vastly increased by simply adding a subpixel with no color filter. That increase in throughput then can be exploited to either get equivalent visual brightness with less backlight power, or you can crank things up all the way and get extreme brightness for the same backlight power. That translates to power savings most of the time, and extremely bright whites other times when you need it. It actually does make a lot of sense, especially when you consider things like browsing webpages which is still largely black text on a white background. 

Left: Droid X2, Right: Droid X

On webpages, RGBW actually looks pretty good, with black text being nice and sharp on a white background. This is one place where RGBG just never could do a perfect job, but RGBW does. I actually have no problem with RGBW for black text on white backgrounds. 

Droid X:

Droid X2:

The only place you can still dramatically tell that this is PenTile is either by looking at regions that are solid green, or red. At green in particular, you can see a bit of that grain from the subpixel structure - green is most visible because visual acuity peaks in the green. Red is also sometimes also shows a bit of that telltale grain, but nothing too dramatic. Human visual acuity isn’t very good for blue, so that looks pretty homogeneous.

In our tests, the X2 results definitely show how much having that white subpixel can help. 

Display Brightness

Display Brightness

Display Contrast

Motorola has had a pretty steady track record for putting great displays in their devices, going all the way back to the original Motorola Droid which included an IPS display. It’s nice to see that they haven’t compromised with the X2 either. 

We’ve also been measuring display brightness and white point at 25% brightness increments on displays lately, and the X2 is no exception from this treatment. Alongside the Motorola Droid X, the X2 looks substantially bluer. Looking at the white point on the X2 it’s easy to see where that comes from. At 7500K it’s closer to sanity than the 8500K for Super AMOLED Plus, but still not quite perfect. 

Moving onto the brightness (white and black) graph, we can see something finally reminiscent of a LCD, showing steady contrast as black and white both climb in a nice linear fashion as we ramp up brightness. The Droid X2 stays pretty contrasty, moreso than we originally measured the Droid X as being, but still not quite chart topping. 

Viewing angles on the X2 seem subjectively better than the original X. You can see colors on the X fade off and turn strange at the extreme vertical angles and a bit as well at horizontal extreme angles. I don’t remember the X looking this bad, it could be that the device I borrowed has a worse panel than the original X we were sampled last year.

Outdoors the X2 seems pretty readable, no doubt thanks to having that white subpixel and extremely high brightness. Even in the extremely bright, direct Arizona sunlight the X2 seemed a bit more readable than other devices from recent memory. 

Again the real nice thing about the X2 display is that qHD resolution which makes it able to both have a bit more text smoothing on webpages, and also just look better. I was especially thankful for that extra resolution when using things like remote desktop and maps from the X2, as a result, things on similarly sized WVGA displays look cartoonishly huge.


Nameless Motoblur: Continued Camera: Better Video and Stills


View All Comments

  • HangFire - Thursday, July 07, 2011 - link

    Will it be dead the second time you drop it, or will the speaker die in volume more every month that it does stay working?

    Just going by the experience on my last 4 Motorola's...
  • ImSpartacus - Thursday, July 07, 2011 - link

    I dropped my DX1 this morning. It was under a cheap pseudo-leather case that isn't even sold anymore. It's still chugging.

  • HangFire - Thursday, July 07, 2011 - link

    First or second drop? Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, July 08, 2011 - link

    Third or fourth, I lost track. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, July 07, 2011 - link

    I dropped my X hard enough to knock the battery cover off once, no effect. This isn't a POS V710, it can actually take day-to-day life. Reply
  • quadrivial - Thursday, July 07, 2011 - link

    I wonder why there isn't criticism of the overheating problem? Reply
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, July 07, 2011 - link

    I can't speak for a droid, but I had my v3xx for four years, and it took multiple drops and was fine. The battery cover did get pretty loose. And my wife used it for two of those years. We now both have smart phones, but that phone held up extremely well.

    If the Droids hold up like it did, then they are very durable devices.
  • freefx - Thursday, July 07, 2011 - link

    I don't know about the X, but my original droid can take a beating. I've dropped it on concrete more times than i can keep track of. I've also dropped it while work on my roof. Tumbled all the way down the roof line and then dropped 9 feet to my concrete walkway. Battery cover came off and a barely noticeable scuff on one of the corners. My screen still has no scratches. My only complaint now is the slow processor and lack of ram.

    Considering my clumsiness, I'm hoping one of these new phones can take the some punishment.
  • jmcb - Thursday, July 07, 2011 - link

    Were they those thin RAZR's?

    My Droid 1 and Droid X1 has survived numerous drops with only scratches to show for it. The X face first many times. I dropped my Droid X so much you would think my Droid 1 was the newer phone.

    Going back to the E815, minus the charging port on that phone breaking almost every 6 months...Motorola has made some durable phones.

    Ask me about my Samsung Omnia 1 and drops. It didn't even make it 6 months. My Droid 1 and DX1 lasted a total of 16 months, still going strong.
  • TechJunkie69 - Thursday, July 07, 2011 - link

    I don't know about the Droid X case, but my Atrix is near indestructible. I have dropped it, punched it (so I have anger issues, what), even my 2 year old niece has gotten ahold of it a few times (she responsible for 3 destroyed phones already), and it still works as good as it did on launch day.

    And as far as performance, I'm running the SPB Shell 3D launcher with live 3D wallpaper and none of my apps have performance issues, except for angry birds seasons and its full page ads. The only difference between the X2 and the Atrix is the amount of RAM, which could potentially cause a few hiccups. As for battery life, I never have any issues with it. Then again I have it connected to a charger a lot (car dock, notebook, wall charger at night) so I wouldn't notice it as much as others might. Tegra 2 may not be the best on the market anymore, but it is still a solid platform.

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