With the rise of smartphones and tablets, the display has become one of the most important aspects of a mobile device as it’s the primary mode of interaction. However, throughout computing the display has generally had relatively little attention. People might have talked about resolution, size, and latency, but the discourse was vague at best. In order to really understand displays, it’s important to discuss a number of factors that affect display quality and the underlying design of the display. These factors range from subpixel arrangement to TFT structure and various emitter materials. With traditional reviewing methods, it’s often difficult to say one way or another whether one display is “better” than another. While simple metrics like maximum brightness can be compared in a relative manner, it’s hard to say whether one has better colors or higher static contrast. In order to test these metrics, we turn to objective measurements from devices like X-Rite’s i1Pro2 spectrophotometer and i1Display Pro colorimeter. In order to acquire the data from these devices and present it in a usable manner, we use SpectraCal’s CalMAN 5 with a custom workflow.

Under the microscope and based upon some quick viewing angle tests, subjectively the Galaxy Note5 display looks and feels like a bigger version of the Galaxy S6 display. Viewing angles for some angles feels like the display is almost painted on to the glass below, but some odd interference effects with viewing angle changes breaks the illusion to some extent. In the case of the S6 edge+, the curved edges of the display cause a noticeable shift in luminance when looking at the edge compared to the center of the display, which also causes an odd green shift which is probably due to the RGBG subpixel layout. I suspect the best LCDs will still be better at the “painted to the glass” illusion for the near future. This isn’t a huge deal, but it is a noticeable difference.

Display - Max Brightness

Moving on to our brightness testing, we can see that the Galaxy Note5 delivers a healthy improvement over the Galaxy Note 4 generation of AMOLED, but it isn’t quite at the same level as the Galaxy S6. It isn’t clear why this is the case, but I suspect this is related to longevity and other concerns outside of brightness. Meanwhile the use of OLED means that black levels are perfect and contrast remains solely determined by the lighting of the room and the reflectance of the display, which is similar to most other smartphones.

Display - White Point

Display - Grayscale Accuracy

In our standard grayscale testing, the Note5 delivers acceptable color accuracy but it seems that the Basic screen mode tends towards a warm color balance. I suspect this helps with power efficiency, as blue in general requires more power to achieve the same level of luminance. Other than this slightly warm white balance, the grayscale accuracy doesn’t have any significant errors. This means accuracy ends up very good - certainly below our threshold for noticable errors - especially in comparison to the Galaxy Note 4 which had some noticeable problems with green tint on some units.

Display - Saturation Accuracy

In our saturation test, Samsung does well enough that there’s really nothing to talk about because there's so little wrong here. You could argue that magenta is a bit warm on our review unit, but the difference is too small to be worth talking about. Error on average is going to be hard to spot unless you have a flawless reference monitor to compare against.

Display - GMB Accuracy

In the GMB ColorChecker test, Samsung continues to show a strong performance when looking at various hues that are commonly found in consumer content such as movies and camera photos. There’s a slight red shift on some of the tested hues, but the error is so minor I don’t notice that any problems here.

Overall, the Galaxy Note5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ both have an incredible display. The Galaxy S6 edge+ does have some problems with viewing angle shifts by virtue of the curved display, but this is effectively unavoidable given the subpixel layout and the radius of curvature. With this generation of AMOLED, Samsung has definitely equaled the best LCDs on the market. I suspect within the next year or two it will be inevitable that Samsung AMOLED will be clearly superior to even the best LCDs. However, without other OLED suppliers that can provide similar quality and cost I suspect OEM adoption will continue to be limited.

Battery Life and Charge Time System Performance
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  • kspirit - Friday, October 2, 2015 - link

    Ya I've owned the Nexus 4 and 5 in the past, they were both A+! Currently on WP but really considering getting either the Z5 or the iP6S. Waiting for the reviews to come in :)
  • sonny73n - Saturday, October 3, 2015 - link

    Sony Z5? Hmm... If Anandtech ever do reviews on Xperia phones, it would break them Sony fanboys' hearts. And AT will probably save a lot of people from becoming victims of Sony marketing gimmicks. I have owned more than 20 smartphones (bought them all brand new) in the last 9 years. The 3 biggest mistakes I'd ever made were purchasing the Sony ZR, ZL and Z3C. Yup, 3 times. I can't believe I could be that stupid.

    AT please do a review on an Xperia phone, I'll happily donate $100 for it.
  • jbm - Sunday, October 4, 2015 - link

    What was your problem with the Z3C? I had a Samsung S4 and it was horrible (I had barely any apps installed, disabled everything I did not need, power saving mode etc. and still randomly the phone decided to use 5-10% per hour). I managed to sell it and got a Sony Z3C. Best android phone I ever had. Got regularly 4 days battery life out of it without any issues at all. Right now, I have an iPhone 6s and it is great so far. Great camera, great build quality, uses about 20% battery per day so I only have to charge it every 3-4 days (I do not play any games on the phone and do not watch any videos, I just use it as a PHONE plus for email/occasional looking at a website/occasional music listening).
  • sonny73n - Monday, October 5, 2015 - link

    The Z3C
    Hardware: The worst IPS display I've ever seen on a smartphone. DeltaE is way off. Digitizer grids are clearly visible whether the screen on or off. The back glass creaks when slightly squeezed. Cover flaps won't seal tightly anymore after a couple hundreds of openings and closings. Sony has retracted their claim as the phone is submersible which means it's no longer safe being submersed. Remember the commercial of the Z3C - A boy taking pictures with the phone under water? Back camera cover isn't glass, it's easily scratched. Front stereo speakers sound muffled.

    Software: Bloatwares, junkwares and crapwares... Two ecosystems on one device (Google and Sony). Factory reset, nothing installed with everything turned off (wifi, data, location service...) and stamina mode turned on, wakelock still eats battery in sleep mode. It stays awake the whole time draining 10% in 4 hours in sleep mode. Camera app and phone app when in use would suck battery from 100% to 0% in about ~4.5 hours. Back camera takes terrible pictures compares to Samsungs which use the same Sony lens.

    I have owned 1000s of Sony products since I was born - TV, AV system, headphone, laptop... You name it. But after the last 3 phones from them and 5 days on the phone with their terrible customer service refs about the Z3C, I swear that I will never buy another Sony product again. And if any of my relatives buy Sony, I'll cut them loose. Yes, I WILL divorce my wife if she buy anything with a Sony logo.

    I have A+ and MCSE/MCSA since windows 2000 and been in IT since, just so you know.
  • mattscottshea - Sunday, October 4, 2015 - link

    Z2 is a good phone, all models since have been incremental upgrades of it. Z5 Premium review would be interesting, especially since Sony already came out and said everything will not run in 4K. 4K videos will playback in 4K, but everything else, including the homescreen will run in 1080. Wonder if there will be a setting to change that.
  • bigstrudel - Saturday, October 3, 2015 - link

    Google Play services can be disabled and all apps can be downloaded through other means or over the web as .apk.
  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    So take it back and exchange it, you fool. Or are you really such a retard that you're not aware that warranties exist??
  • imaheadcase - Sunday, October 4, 2015 - link

    You will find issues with both phones if you look for them. No one goes to reddit to scream how great something is.
  • dsraa - Friday, October 2, 2015 - link

    You little guys are soooo cute with your Apple vs Samsung bs......Go back to starbucks you yuppie geek hipster, and worry about some real world problems instead.
  • hughlle - Friday, October 2, 2015 - link

    Coming from someone getting involved in an argument he doesn't want to exist :D by your own post your are also one of these yuppie geek hipsters you so despise.

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