Samsung Galaxy S III has better display than iPhone 5?

According to a new report from research firm IHS, Apple’s iPhone 5 display lags behind the Samsung Galaxy S III’s on the important measure of color gamut, which creates a more vibrant, crisp image with better overall color saturation, but the difference in terms of how users perceive the margin could actually be negligible, and is unlikely to alter buying decisions.

In fact, IHS says that the iPhone 5′s screen may actually look better (more accurate and realistic) compared to the SGSIII, owing to "better calibration, higher brightness and superior power efficiency." Samsung’s smartphone, by contrast, could appear "oversaturated and unrealistic," Vinita Jakhanwal, director for Small & Medium Displays at IHS, noted in a press release.

Apple’s display also has advantages in terms of overall device thickness thanks to the use of in-cell touch panel technology, which incorporates the LCD and touch sensors into one, single layer. But the SGSIII actually beats the latest iPhone in terms of display thickness, and IHS says the iPhone 5 is slimmer overall due to other factors like battery thickness.

The pixel density on Samsung’s screen is also smaller, with 306ppi compared to 326ppi on the iPhone 5. But Samsung’s display provides true HD resolution at 720 x 1280, compared to 640 x 1136 for the iPhone 5. Apple has also faced criticism from some for using LCD instead of OLED technology in its smartphone, but Jakhanwal notes in the IHS report that OLED presents its own downsides, including concerns about how organic materials used in their construction ages, and what that will do to OLED lifetime and power efficiency in the longer term.

In the end, consumers care about performance in-hand, and both of these devices do well on that scale. Still, it’s interesting to take a closer look at the design decisions these two smartphone titans make, and what effects those choices have on overall display performance in their mobile devices.

However, DisplayMate says otherwise:

DisplayMate's "Flagship Smartphone Display Technology Shoot-Out" not only pitted the iPhone 5 against the Galaxy S III, but added in the iPhone 4's Retina display to show how Apple's display technology has advanced over the past two years.

The test consisted of numerous tests covering screen reflections, brightness and contrast, colors and intensities, viewing angles, display power consumption and effect on battery life.

"Apple has uncharacteristically understated how much better the display is on the iPhone 5 – something that could be an important factor for those considering whether to upgrade," said DisplayMate's Dr. Raymond Soneira. "In every category that we measure (except Brightness Decrease with Viewing Angle), the performance of the iPhone 5 display has improved over the iPhone 4, sometimes by a bit and sometimes by a lot."

Compared to the iPhone 4, the iPhone 5 has decreased screen reflectance by 52 percent, boosted contrast by 57 percent and improved color accuracy. Soneira notes the iPhone 5's display calibration is very good and, while suffering from minor gamma intensity, that "It is still probably more accurate than any display you own, unless you have a new iPad."

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So which is correct?