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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  • theduckofdeath - Thursday, October 8, 2015 - link

    There are issues for desktop sized high resolution displays. The biggest one is volume and production cost. Just look at what you have to pay for an LG OLED telly compared to a nano LED telly. Like Kamus said, look up what professional display calibration companies says about SAMOLED. It's not "on par", it's in a league of its own.
  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    You are an idiot. The reason that top end monitor manufacturers don't use OLED, or AMOLED, is because they can't afford to. Eventually they will replace LCD, when they can afford to. LCD is crap technology and outdated, and will eventually be entirely replaced, when the costs make sense. Samsung can produce AMOLED screens, because they actually build them!! Apple builds nothing. At all. They buy their tech from others whom have the know how. Therefore, they pay through the nose for it, and aren't ever even offered the superior tech, because, why would you bother?! You'd maybe understand these issues, we're you not such an utter moron.
  • sany - Monday, October 5, 2015 - link

    I've been wondering, having the best chip to process still photos and good software - why still slow motion FPS rate is still kept too low compared to the slow motion fps for iPhone. Is this a limitation with hardware or can be fixed through an software update?
  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    Dude, seriously, smartphones take terrible pictures. The camera tech they employ is light years behind that used in actual cameras. Any photographer using their smartphone as there primary photographic device, is an utter moron!! Probably an unsuccessful one too!!
  • Peichen - Monday, October 5, 2015 - link

    As an iPhone user that also played with Samsung and LG flagships extensively, I feel Samsung Galaxy S and Note are the only phone that can be mentioned in the same sentence as iPhone. No other Android phones come close to S and Note's Apple-like hardware and refinements. Android + TouchWiz still lags and not as stable as iOS but where Samsung did their homework it is at Apple's level. I hope the upcoming V10 and Z5 Premium is as well made and tweaked as Note 5.
  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    Your opinion is entirely meaningless, as you haven't used any flagship Android devices, other than Samsung. Sony make great phones, as do HTC, and Google and Motorola, and Huawei... Need I go on?? You might know this, if you weren't so entirely blinkered and pathetic.
  • jrich7 - Monday, October 5, 2015 - link

    Just picked up a Note 5 today, ugraded from the Nexus 6 and wow its way faster ! The batter drains a little faster but the fast charge feels just sweet and that see coming from another fast charge device. The screen is beautiful and the spen is going to come in handy. The only thing I really like better in the Nexus 6 was the two front facing speakers. I thought I would not like TouchWiz because I heard it's slow compared stock androld but the hardware on the phone makes up for it like 10 fold ! I'm very happy with this device :)
  • coolhardware - Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - link

    The Nexus 6 had splendid speakers! That was my biggest complaint switching from it to a smaller Galaxy S6.

    For another set of nice stereo phone speakers, check out the Moto X Pure Edition. My wife has one and the speakers sound good, better than any phone from Samsung or Apple IMHO. :-)

    Speaking of Apple, I am excited to hear the speakers on the new iPad Pro. I'm *hoping* they really advance the tablet speaker situation to a new level!
  • thedons1983 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 - link

    Thank you! The opinion of someone who has actually bought the device in question, is always going to be more legitimate, than the reams of idiots who have only ever used an iPhone. Good work, for bothering to add your two cents, it is appreciated.
  • Thounee - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    Hey staff @ Anand. I tried to look for any review of Xperia's (Z3, Z3+/Z4 or new Z5's) but came up empty. Since the sensors and image/video quality is considered as best by some benchmarks in the industry (look at dxomark), it would be nice to see your take on the latest versions.

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