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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  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    Apple genius = regular retard. Those morons don't have a clue. I know more about iOS, than those idiots. Customer service does not equal customer satisfaction. Especially when the idevice in question breaks every few minutes.
  • hrrmph - Sunday, October 4, 2015 - link

    Nice review that hits most of the major points, but I would like to see a few more things returned to AT's reviews:

    - Audio performance (for many people, a phone is their primary audio source, so quality counts);

    - Battery configuration (not to push the discussion one way or the other, just remind us whether it does or doesn't have a removable battery.);

    - More on storage (considering AT's roots as a PC website, and smartphones' inexorable drive to eventually replace PCs, a wider discussion of storage is needed. Especially with phone cameras recording 4K and everyone's storage needs going up in formation, it is important to discuss how to store things on the device and how to offload them from the device. This issue is dogging Apple, Google, and Samsung, all of whom have now eschewed internal removable storage, without stating when they will develop a replacement, if ever.).


    I would also like to see something added to AT's phone reviews:

    - How to control audio playback without looking at the phone (particularly Play, Skip Forward to Next Song, and Skip Back to Previous Song, and Mute. Blackberry nailed most of this with their very helpful physical button configuration, and thus when driving in a car and playing music, I cannot be without a Blackberry. What are Apple, Google, Samsung and the others doing for audio control while driving... without having to buy a new car, that is. Is voice control the only way, and if so does it work well.)
  • SydneyBlue120d - Sunday, October 4, 2015 - link

    Any info about the HEVC encoding? We know the SOC support it, however there is no way to use it, I think this relate to the HEVC licensing knightmare, do You think we will ever be able to use it? Maybe using some third parts app? Thanks a lot.
  • kogaharukka - Sunday, October 4, 2015 - link

    For Nand performance, please check it with Androbench v.4.0.
    The numbers from Androbench v.3.6 cannot show real Nand performance.
  • SnowleopardPC - Sunday, October 4, 2015 - link

    My biggest issues with these phones are that Samsung surveyed Iphone users about what features they wanted in their next phone and of course the Isheep said nothing about Micro SD Card slots and changeable batteries.

    I went with Samsung because I want my 10,000 MAH extended battery and 200gb MicroSDXC card from Sandisk.

    Now all Samsung makes is a cheap IPhone that runs anroid.

    And the 128gb version was an after though and "might" be released in the next 2 months, and it still will be missing a micro SDXC card slot and have a low powered worthless battery......
  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    You are an idiot. Pure and simple. What a loser. Benchmarks are for idiots.
  • coolhardware - Sunday, October 4, 2015 - link

    As per the Kuzi's earlier comment:
    +the S6/Edge/Note 5 resolution of 2560x1140 = 3,686,400 pixels
    +iPhone 6S Plus is 1920x1080 = 2,073,600 pixels.

    A fewquestions: #1 how do these screens look next to each? (is there a noticeable quality difference)
    #2 how much of a battery/performance penalty is there for Samsung? (are they competitive despite handling way more pixels, or do they suffer for it)
    #3 how bright do the Samsung's get on "auto" b/c my S6 is visible in any sunlight conditions when in that mode, are the latest iPhone's also able to be viewed easily in full sun?

    Lastly, why do AMOLED displays have difficulty with the "painted on" effect vs. LCDs? I notice that my wife's Moto X Pure's LCD looks crisper and more "painted on" than my S6.

    PS thanks for the great review as always!

    PSS For reference on the first questions, here are iPhone pixel densities: http://pixensity.com/search/?search=iphone
    and Samsung Galaxy pixel densities: http://pixensity.com/search/?search=samsung%20gala...
  • Kuzi - Monday, October 5, 2015 - link

    Thanks for the site showing the resolution and PPI for devices.

    To answer #2, Samsung have been improving/reducing the power draw of their AMOLED panels with each generation. So even while pushing such high resolutions the penalty is minimal, especially when compared to LCD technology.

    For #3, you can check below and "Expand" the results to show more phones for the Sunlight Visibility test:

  • ciderrules - Monday, October 5, 2015 - link

    The power consumption for the higher resolution isn't just the display and technology. It's the GPU power required to drive that display. It takes more processing power to drive more pixels. Especially if you want day-to-day activities to be smooth (like scrolling).
  • Kuzi - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    The Galaxy S6 is getting 73 hours battery endurance rating:

    iPhone S6 is getting 62 hours:

    So even though the Galaxy S6 is pushing 3.6 times more pixels compared to iPhone 6S it doesn't seem like the battery perfomance is suffering.

    And the GPU doesn't run at high frequencies when web browsing or playing videos. Although for 3D games the battery will get drained faster with higher res screens for sure.

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