Why I want the Samsung Galaxy S II: SAMOLED showdown

Everyone has a set of guidelines that they follow, be it consciously or subconsciously, whenever they are looking for a new phone. Whether you’re taking a microscope to the screen, or just looking for something trendy, the rules are there. Personally, I’m more of the former. Perhaps I’ve somehow trained myself by writing about processors and screen technologies for years now, but I can’t simply buy a phone based on a simple set of guidelines; especially when it comes to the screen.

In my eyes (quite literally) the screen is the most important thing on a phone. The difference between two separate 1GHz processors isn’t something I’m necessarily going to notice in everyday use, but screen technology is. Now I understand the modern crop of super-screens is growing ever bigger. There is a generous amount of great panels that go into phones now, but today I’m taking a look at Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens.

When I first picked up a Samsung Vibrant, it was after using a Nexus One for some months. It wasn’t an incredibly drastic difference, going from AMOLED to Super AMOLED, but it was enough to impress me. Some people may not enjoy the level of saturation or brightness that Super AMOLED screens provide, but I rather like it. There was one thing I didn’t like however. I felt like things were disturbingly blurry. It wasn’t so bad whizzing around the home-screen, but once I started reading a healthy amount of text, especially black text on a white background, it was obvious that something was going on. Fortunately, I go through phones so often that I didn’t put much thought into it. I was on a myTouch 4G, another Nexus One, and an iPhone 4 (all at the same time) before I knew it, and the super bright colors of the Vibrant’s SAMOLED were just a distant memory.

Well here I am again, with a new set of phones, and the problem has only gotten worse. Now I’m using a Samsung Nexus S and an iPhone 4. As far as everyday use goes, the Nexus S takes the cake. Google integration is tight, I can customize every aspect of the OS, 3G data is a HUGE plus… you know the drill. But when it comes down to what I grab to read at night, I would never dream of picking up the Nexus S anymore. The text on the iPhone 4′s display is so incredibly crisp, I barely even notice I’m using a phone sometimes. Sure, I could just use a different Android device, but the Nexus S always has the latest and greatest software from Google, which somehow in my mind trumps having to use a separate device to enjoy long-time reading. And there’s also the fact that the colors on the SAMOLED are amazing, and I really do like the brightness in everyday normal use.

Still, I always think that it would be great if I could have sharper text with the colors of the Super AMOLED. Thanks to the Samsung Galaxy S II (and multiple other Samsung devices), and Samsung’s new Super AMOLED Plus display, I can.

The reason normal Super AMOLED screens look blurry has to do with the arrangement of subpixels. Sometime in 2008, Samsung picked up the patents to PenTile screen technology. In the words of Daniel P. from PhoneScoop.com:

The PenTile matrix, in its AMOLED layout, uses green subpixels as base, since the human eye is most sensitive to that color when bright, high-res images are involved, and then alternates between blue and red ones, the so-called RG-BG arrangement. The normal matrix uses RGB-RGB arrangement, thus having 50% more subpixels per one dot of screen estate.

Translation? This:

As you can see, the Super AMOLED Plus, which uses the normal matrix RGB-RGB arrangement, looks much clearer, especially at such a close level. So what if you take an even closer look? Engadget has taken a microscopic look at the two displays, and the results are exactly as they should be:

The subpixel arrangement on the Super AMOLED just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the human eye. The theory was that no one would notice once everything was taken into account, but it just didn’t work out that way.

Techno jargon and mumbo-jumbo aside, if going hands on is what really matters, then the Galaxy S II’s display is still a winner. In countless reviews and hands-on experiences, the Super AMOLED Plus blows away its not-so-Plus brethren. No matter how you spin it, or how close of a look you really take, one screen stands out above the other.

So there you have it. The reason I am most excited for the Samsung Galaxy S II, or Hercules on T-Mobile, is so that I can finally have the super bright colors of the Super AMOLED screen, and not sacrifice clarity because of that nasty PenTile technology. I’m sure you have your own opinion on Super AMOLED and Super AMOLED Plus displays, so let it all out in the comments below.

Images and quote from PhoneArena and Engadget

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