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Lumia 900 wins outdoor readability test, Galaxy S and iPhone 4 split second

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Nokia's Lumia 900 is the best smartphone in the world — in one important usability aspect, anyhow.


Nokia's Lumia 900 is the best smartphone in the world — in one important usability aspect, anyhow. The DisplayMate labs have been busy collating viewability data on mobile device displays and the results rank the Lumia 900 as the best performer. In particular, the DisplayMate tests were concerned with how devices handle increases in ambient light, a regularly-occurring challenge for anyone wanting to use a phone or a tablet while actually on the move.

Nokia's special reflectance-inhibiting polarizing filter, known under the ClearBlack Display brand, helps its handset to the top spot, even in spite of the fact it has an AMOLED display. AMOLED technology has for a long time been plagued by terrible readability when taken out in direct sunlight, as evidenced by the results produced by the now well-aged HTC Desire, which starts to struggle under conditions defined as "heavy shade."

Apple's iPhone 4 isn't too far behind the Lumia 900, but it is just beaten by Samsung's Galaxy S, the latter offering that extra bit more clarity under the strongest ambient light. The broad conclusion that can be drawn from these images is that companies have figured out ways to overcome the previous weaknesses of AMOLED in direct sunlight, and that Nokia's CBD tech merits having its own marketing name. Of course, it might have been nice to see some more of the latest handsets included in this comparison, such as the HTC One X, but we'll settle for what we've got.

You'll find the full visual comparison over at DisplayMate, which also includes a breakdown of some tablet displays. Those are universally worse than smartphone screens, but we'll leave it to you to find out which one was considered the best.