IPhone 5's display is outdone by Samsung Galaxy S III, IHS teardown reveals

Differences in the two displays are subtle and might not matter to users

The display on the Samsung Galaxy S III is thinner and has a greater range of colors than those on the iPhone 5's display, according to an IHS iSuppli teardown analysis.

IHS analyst Vinita Jakhanwal also conceded that the differences in the two displays are fairly subtle and might not matter to users. He said Apple chose features in the overall iPhone 5, as it has with other products, that are designed to yield profits and "deliver a superior customer experience, rather than of providing technology for technology's sake."

The teardown revealed that the iPhone 5's display is 1.5 mm thick (1/16th of an inch), while the Galaxy S III is 1.1 mm (3/64 of an inch). Also, the iPhone 5 displays 72% of the colors in the NTSC (National Television System Committee) standard, while the Galaxy S III reaches 100% of those colors.

Overall, the iPhone 5 is actually thinner by 1 millimeter than the Galaxy S III, which IHS said was most likely due to a fatter Galaxy S III battery.

Apple used in-cell technology in its LCD display in the iPhone 5, which eliminates the standalone touch panel layers used in the iPhone 4S and makes the iPhone 5 18% thinner. The in-cell technology eliminates the separate touch overlay layer, which allows more light to be emitted from the display without added refraction and glare, IHS said. As a result, the iPhone 5's display provides a "more vibrant and crisper image with improved color saturation than the iPhone 4S."

Even with 72% of the colors of the NTSC standard, "the lower color gamut measurement may not necessarily make the iPhone 5 display look worse than the Galaxy S III," IHS noted. The iPhone 5 could be offering more accurate and realistic colors and contrasts as a result of better calibration, higher brightness and superior power efficiency of the display.

Jakhanwal noted that some reviewers of the Galaxy S III have said its colors look "oversaturated and unrealistic."

IHS noted that the Galaxy S III uses an active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) display, in contrast to the low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) liquid crystal display of the iPhone 5. AMOLEDs don't use a backlight and potentially have better power efficiency than LCDs, IHS said. Still IHS said a smartphone's battery life will depend on many factors other than the display's power consumption, and didn't draw any conclusions about power consumption in either smartphone display that it studied.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

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