iPhone 5 or HTC One: Part 2

Part 1

Part 2: Display

Although it has only just begun, this year has already been a much lauded year in the world of consumer tech, as each and every phone manufacturer seems to have raised the bar for their respective devices; as the sea of Android devices grows even more rapidly though, this seemingly presents a problem for even the largest of OEMs, including HTC. With the One however, it seems that the company has finally decided to let loose some of the most drool-worthy specifications out on the market, maybe even resulting in the hopeful reversal of fortunes that the company has needed for some time.

In a decision to give the customer more than what they bargained for in the density department, HTC has outfitted the One with the densest smartphone screen on the market; sporting a 1080p resolution with 468 ppi, pixels are both invisible at a normal working distance, and up close (whether you would like to press your eyes directly against the glass is your decision to make!). Like the iPhone 5, both screens are LED-backlit LCDs (Liquid-Crystal Displays), sporting RGB matrix sub-pixel layouts and boasting similar IPS (In-Plane-Switching) technologies. For the layman, what this means is both near-ideal viewing angles, and superior resolution when compared to pentile arrangements such as those in Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and upcoming S4. Additionally, both phones have some of the best display characteristics ever, resulting in a comparison that is ultimately subjective, and based on personal preference.

First of all, screen-size is probably the most important aspect for the daily user. At 4-inches for the iPhone 5 vs. 4.7 inches for the HTC One, one-handed use is a case where size does matter. To make a conclusion though, it is best recommended to try out each phone in person before making a decision. Additionally, the different screen sizes are also important for many "power" users; whereas some believe that idea smartphones should remain smaller than the current Android flagships, others also prefer the better multimedia experience that comes with a larger window into their consumer content. Again though, it all comes down to preference.

Next, is to compare the actual display characteristics of each phone; this is the most important part for many tech-enthusiasts.

  • The HTC One has a greater pixel density than the iPhone 5 (326 ppi vs. 468 ppi), but in real life scenarios, that is to say that the HTC’s pixels will "disappear" under all use cases, whereas the iPhone 5’s pixels are only viewable when held right against the tip of the nose (for the average eyesight). This is a very minor difference for some, but may provide better comfort for those seeking to "future-proof" their tech-lives.

  • Both phones have unique differentiating technologies: The One’s SLCD 3 uses AH-IPS for lower power-consumption, and the ability to display at a higher resolution, while also allowing for better color-reproduction than its predecessor with Super LCD2. It also features CG-Silicon tech, which reduces layers for the LCD and helps with the higher-pixel density.

  • The iPhone 5 on the other hand, features an In-Cell LCD, which reduces the layers required for the LCD stack, by integrating touch sensors into the circuitry and increasing clarity (also allows the iPhone 5 to be even thinner and lighter than its predecessor). Also, to be noted, the SLCD 3 in the HTC One does not use in-cell tech (it is still on-cell, akin to the previous iPhones and older smartphones).

  • Contrast ratios for both phones are superb, and among the best in the industry (around 1000-1200 range for both). In Anandtech’s review of the device though, the 1700 score for the HTC One was due to dynamic contrast not easily being disabled (this skews the result, and gives an untrue value in the benchmark). As such, it can be determined from subjective observations, that both phone are indeed very close.

  • The HTC One (if being very specific and analyzed in a quantitative manner) has one of the best black levels of any LCD display, aiding in a variety of conditions, while the iPhone 5 manages to garner the top spot for screen brightness, meaning better visibility overall (in outdoor conditions this can be very helpful)

  • As for color accuracy, the HTC One is the only smartphone that manages to even come close to the iPhone 5’s class-leading characteristics, but the result for both phones is still amazingly impressive overall. For an in depth analysis including grayscale, color gamut, etc. read Anandtech’s reviews for each phone (the display section).

  • Overall though, while the HTC One manages to bring about the highest-resolution display on the market, the iPhone 5 remains king of the hill in almost all areas that matter to professional users. For some conclusive evidence, here is the Anandtech iPhone 5 thorough display analysis: iPhone 5 Screen Anandtech

To conclude the display comparison, I’ve brought about snippets of the Anandtech display analysis for each phone. Both are simply class-leading, and in the end you can’t go wrong choosing either device, as they both flaunt brilliant displays that would make almost any other smartphone owner jealous.

Anandtech HTC One: I think HTC continues to do a much better job than all the other Android OEMs, but only Apple is really taking things seriously here and taking the couple of dollar hit to have each panel calibrated. That said the HTC One’s display is a sight to behold, it is incredibly crisp and sharp in every condition you can throw at it

Anandtech iPhone 5: I do know that if TV and PC Monitor vendors were able to provide displays that looked like this out of the box, professional calibrators would lose a good amount of business. The new panel in the iPhone 5 is simply remarkable in quality and if it were a PC monitor, I'd give it a Gold Award on the basis of its performance.