The Super AMOLED panel used by Samsung's newly launched Galaxy S10 has been rated as the best mobile display ever to grace a smartphone, Android or otherwise. The ruling comes from DisplayMate, an established panel benchmarking firm which previously took numerous deep looks at the most cutting-edge displays the handset industry had to offer.
Following extensive testing, DisplayMate concluded that the 6.1-inch OLED screen used by the Galaxy S10 is technologically similar to Samsung's panels that are part of its 2018 high-end smartphones but manages to surpass them in over a dozen segments. As a result, the panel was given an A+ rating, the highest mark DisplayMate ever attached to any product.
New records in under 100 words
The Super AMOLED module produced by Samsung Display offers the highest-ever absolute color, contrast, and intensity-scale accuracy. Its intensity scales, luminance, and color accuracy are also unmatched in the context of testing scenarios wherein they're independent of the actual content being displayed. The viewing angles offered by the panel make it the most versatile piece of display tech with the lowest reflectance rating ever created. Ultimately, the screen received "very good" and "excellent" ratings in all categories, hence being rated as by far the most advanced small-sized OLED module in the history of the industry.
The rating is particularly impressive given how it's only been several months since DisplayMate made its testing standards even stricter in order to account for the fact mobile display technologies are improved on a massive scale in recent years. Coincidentally, Samsung is the main reason behind that progress given how its display-making arm continues to dominate the OLED segment which itself is now becoming a standard in every price bracket bar the most entry-level one.
The unsurprising records which the new display either matched or exceeded include a color accuracy rating that's visually indistinguishable from perfect and the best resolution that makes sense, i.e. can be perceived. Like most other industry experts, DisplayMate subscribes to the theory that making small-sized panels with 4K support is largely pointless. The only significant exception to that unwritten rule would be virtual reality but Samsung downsized its VR efforts to the point of not even mentioning them during its most high-profile launches, so it's not surprising it also appears uninterested in decreasing its profit margins or additionally upping its already high prices by going the 4K route.
The OLED panel of the Galaxy S10 is flexible, as evidenced by its slightly curved edges and is covered by hard glass, being 10-percent larger than the module found on the Galaxy S9, largely due to its smaller bezels. Whereas the 5.8-inch screen of the 2018 flagship covered 85-percent of its front panel, the Galaxy S10 has a screen-to-body ratio of 90-percent. That figure isn't record-breaking but is as close as anyone has ever gotten without embracing suspect contraptions such as pop-up cameras; a camera that needs an elevating mechanism introduces more moving parts to the smartphone equation and consequently makes its host more likely to break, so Samsung decided for a different approach and instead embedded its front-facing sensor into the display itself.
The unconventional Infinity-O design is one of the defining features of the Galaxy S10 range but isn't directly referenced by DisplayMate which apparently doesn't believe shape to be a relevant factor when it comes to measuring display quality. The slightly taller aspect ratio of 19:9 (2.11) is equally important, i.e. isn't, though it does offer more space for secondary elements such as notifications without sacrificing an 18:9 (2:1) box dedicated to more immediate user focus.
The Galaxy S10 exhibits a 23-percent brightness decrease at a 30-degree angle, thus being more than twice as good as standard LCD panels which usually suffer from a brightness loss in the vein of 55-percent in identical circumstances. DisplayMate also praised the handset's Night Mode reliant on what's described as the best blue light filter on the market. Further illustrating this dominant performance is the TUV certification for eye comfort Samsung's newest Android flagship managed to obtain.
Literally outshining rivals, with battery life to spare
The screen can produce up to 1,215 cd/m2 (nits) of brightness in its High Ambient Light mode – the one that kicks in when a bright screen is most needed, such as in direct sunlight. Not only is this capability record-setting but also doesn't appear to consume as much power as one would expect; it's still a power hog but it appears the new system-on-chip solutions are truly doing wonders for mobile efficiency, with display lighting traditionally being the most energy-hungry component of smartphones and portable devices in general.
While DisplayMate didn't elaborate on the matter, it's understood the American company tested the U.S. variant of the Galaxy S10 which uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 instead of Samsung's Exynos 9820 chip. Not only can the new Android phablet get extremely bright when it needs to but it's also the best at identifying those scenarios thanks to the addition of a second ambient light sensor on its back. This feature is actually an "addition" relative to the rest of the industry but has been part of Samsung's ultra-premium mobile portfolio for several years now.
While the very nature of OLEDs makes them more energy-efficient than LCDs and allows infinite contrast with a higher efficiency rating, Samsung took things to the next level with the Galaxy S10, delivering a device that's 10-percent more efficient on a relative display power scale. In a hypothetical scenario wherein this configuration used a 5.8-inch panel like last year's Galaxy S9 did, it would last nine percentage points longer on a single charge, which could be close to an hour more, depending on one's usage habits. While that isn't the case, the Galaxy S10 should still offer marginally better battery life than its direct predecessor.
A best-in-class TV in your pocket
The Galaxy S10 range also supports 4K HDR content created for modern 4K UHD TVs. Yes, it caps it at a QHD+ resolution of 3,040 by 1,440 pixels, occasionally advertised as "3K," but the impressive dynamic range of the HDR10+ standard is still easily observable even without comparing its playback to something less capable like any other handset ever released, for example. Dynamic tone mapping is on offer as well, being a prerequisite for accurate, standard-based playback. The same holds true for the Digital Cinema DCI-P3 Wide Color Gamut which the Galaxy S10 fully supports. The device offers an infinite contrast ratio due to its perfect blacks, which themselves are a direct consequence of OLED technologies which light up on a per-pixel basis, i.e. leave truly black pixels unlit.
Further adding to the impressive list of display capabilities is the Super AMOLED module's Expanded Dynamic Range which is partially software-reliant and essentially makes ordinary content better. While it won't reprocess an older video to the point of it somehow being on par with native HDR, it will bring it visibly closer to that ideal, DisplayMate found. By most accounts, the Galaxy S10 offers a viewing experience rivaling that of the very best TVs money can currently, with the obvious exception of screen size. The new Samsung-made handsets will support Netflix HD and HDR playback from day one, having just been added to the video giant's list of compatible devices.
Samsung's Galaxy S10 range is scheduled to go on sale later this week, starting at around $750 and going up to approximately double that figure, depending on the market. Pre-orders are still live and have some rather lucrative incentives attached to them. Samsung is hoping the new product family will help it regain some of the momentum it lost last year after the Galaxy S9 series failed to meet internal expectations, according to its own financial reports.