Samsung Galaxy S III vs. Galaxy S II: Intergalactic

GSMArena team, 23 May 2012.

Screen - WVGA RGB vs. 720p PenTile

The Samsung Galaxy S III is technically not the first Samsung smartphone with a 720p resolution screen. There is the Galaxy Nexus and also the Galaxy Note. A couple of Galaxy S II variants have also dabbled with 720p, but one of them got canceled before it even made it to the factories.

Anyway, the increase in resolution means that the Galaxy S III has 300+ ppi pixel density, despite its larger screen. That compares quite favorably to the 217ppi density of the S II.

Samsung Galaxy S Iii Vs S2 Samsung Galaxy S Iii Vs S2
The Samsung Galaxy S III has a bigger, higher-res screen compared to the Galaxy S II

The matter of matrix type is often hotly disputed - PenTile vs. RGB. But it's hardly a contest, the pixels on the Galaxy S III screen are so tiny that they don't become apparent until you're looking at the screen from much too short a distance (our eyes start hurting even before this point). The Galaxy S II screen is very good too, but it just can't match the sharpness of the 720p unit when it comes to tiny text.

The upside of going with PenTile, according to Samsung, is that the panel's life is increased compared to RGB panels and their picture quality lasts longer. Samsung says the S III screen will remain in excellent condition even after two, three years.

Samsung Galaxy S Iii Vs S2 Samsung Galaxy S Iii Vs S2
The Samsung Galaxy S III display vs. the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S II screens

We've had a Galaxy S II in our office for over an year now and if there is degradation, it's too subtle and gradual to notice.

Anyway, resolution isn't the whole story. The Galaxy S III screen is slightly dimmer than the one on the S II, but much brighter than the 720p Super AMOLED of the Galaxy Nexus.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Nexus 0 112 0 247
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III 0 174 0 330
HTC One X 0.15 200 1375 0.39 550 1410
Sony Xperia S - - - 0.48 495 1038
Motorola RAZR XT910 0 215 0 361
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 0 231 0 362
HTC One S 0 177 0 386
Samsung Galaxy Note 0 287 0 429
HTC Sensation XE 0.23 172 761 0.64 484 752

The new Gorilla Glass 2-covered screen does noticeably better in bright sunlight despite the slightly lower brightness. Actually, the Galaxy S III is the best performer in this category that we've seen since we started running the test. It beats even the excellent ClearBlack display of a Nokia N9 and is well ahead of the iPhone 4S screen.

Contrast ratio

  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
  • Samsung Omnia W
  • Samsung Galaxy S
  • Nokia N9
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • HTC One S
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Apple iPhone 4S
  • HTC One X
  • Nokia N8
  • Apple iPhone 4
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
  • HTC One V
  • LG Optimus 3D
  • Nokia Asha 302
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
  • Meizu MX

The Galaxy S II isn't a bad performer in this category though - it comes somewhere between the N9 and the 4S. It comes pretty close to the brand new HTC One S and has slightly higher subpixel density than it too, so it's fair to say it does well against newer competitors.

The Galaxy S III has an interesting add-on - an RGB ambient light sensor. We've contacted Samsung about it and they say typical ambient light sensors detect only green light (it's the one the human eye is most sensitive to), but they don't work too well under fluorescent lighting. The RGB sensor detects all visible light and supposedly makes better adjustments to the screen brightness.

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