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LCD Analysis: Sharp, Just Not In Full Sunlight

Nokia Lumia 710 Review: Windows Phone 7 On A Budget
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Particularly in the mobile space, display analysis often gets neglected. That's actually a bummer because we're of the opinion that part of a solid hardware design includes a great screen.

If you remember back to our analysis of the Apple iPhone 4/4S' Retina Display, then you know we like starting our deep-dive with a look under the microscope. Such a low-level peek often turns up interesting information you wouldn't otherwise get.

Lumia 710: LCD subpixelsLumia 710: LCD subpixels

Up close, the subpixels come into view. The structure suggests that Nokia's Lumia 710 employs an IPS display from LG, a suspicion that OLED-Display.net shares. In any case, the number of LCD manufacturers remains small. More than likely, your smartphone has a screen from either Samsung or LG.

This display is specifically branded as featuring ClearBlack, which is Nokia's marketing term to indicate it's using a polarizer. Basically, the company places a filtering layer between the display and capacitive touch sensor. The result is less reflections, allowing you to see the screen more clearly without having to tilt it when you're outside on a sunny day. Read more about ClearBlack from Nokia's blog post.

Dark EnvironmentDark EnvironmentIndoors Lit RoomIndoors Lit RoomOutdoors, Indirect SunlightOutdoors, Indirect Sunlight

In practice, the polarizer does what it's supposed to (look at the far-right picture). However, the display's richness is significantly reduced when the ambient light is too bright.

This benchmark surprised us enough that we had to run it several times. Yes, the Lumia 710 sports a more aesthetically-pleasing color palette than the iPhone 4S. But the difference isn't noticeable unless you're watching a scene rich in deep blues.

As you can see in the table below, the iPhone 4S serves up better brightness and contrast results, though we're interested to see how it sizes up to the AMOLED display in Nokia's higher-end Lumia 800.

To be fair, the iPhone 4/4S delivers unbelievable detail by design. According to Apple, the screen is marketed as a "Retina Display” because the company suggests that anyone with 20/20 vision can discern a maximum of 300 pixels per inch 12 inches from their eye.

Phil Plait, an astronomer whose career includes calibrating the camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, wrote up a great article on human perception and stated that "...normal vision can see at 1/0.0035 = 286 ppi...If you have perfect eyesight, then at one foot away the iPhone 4′s pixels are resolved. The picture will look pixellated. If you have average eyesight, the picture will look just fine." In that context, the Lumia 710's 252 pixels per inch fall a little short. You'd have to have near-perfect eyesight to see the difference in detail from a foot away, though.


iPhone 4S
Lumia 710
Gamut of Adobe RGB 1998
46.2%
61%
Gamma
2.06
2.2
Max. Brightness (nits)
565.8
485.8
Color Temperature
8000 K
6600 K
Resolution
640x960
480x800
Display Dimensions
2.91" x 1.94"3.18" x 1.91"
Pixels per inch
326
252
Subpixels per inch
571
435
Contrast
1224.9
971.6
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