The Screen – A Super AMOLED Beast

Samsung continues to utilize its Super AMOLED technology on the Galaxy Note 4, this time with a 2560×1440 resolution screen measuring 5.7 inches diagonally.  That results in an impressive PPI (pixels per inch) rating of ~515. But keep in mind that the phone is a PenTile display, a proprietary concoction from Samsung that uses specific sub-pixel patterns that work with the display driver to produce the image on the screen. The Note 4 screen uses an RGBG scheme in which the green sub-pixels (a 2:1 ratio of red and blue) are actually mapped 1:1 with the input pixels but blue and green sub-pixels are “subsampled, reconstructing the chroma signal at a lower resolution.” This has led to the debate of whether or not these types of panels can truly claim the resolution of 2560×1440 since only the green sub-pixels are truly available at that level.

Regardless of the technical debate, the screen on the Galaxy Note 4 is impressive to look at. Much as I fawned over the OLED display on the Dell Venue 8 7000 last week, seeing a screen with such a substantial dynamic range changes how you think about TFT screens. Looking at photographs taken with HDR shows the benefits of OLED screens and watching movies like Gravity where the dark blacks and bright whites are on-screen at the same time just pushes that advantage further.

The Galaxy Note 4 Sub-pixel Pattern

Color reproduction on this OLED screen is outstanding, extending past the sRGB standard substantially in green and slightly to the red as well.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review (N910C) - Exynos and S Pens - Mobile 6
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Motorola Droid Turbo
Apple iPhone 6
OnePlus One

Our screen testing was done with HCFR and a Spyder 4 colorimeter, with all displays standardized at 180 lux brightness.

There are some users and those in the professional community that will correctly claim that going above the sRGB spec can cause accuracy issues with some visuals and that is 100% true. But the screen on the Samsung Note 4, just as with the Venue 8 7000 we reviewed recently, extends color range without adding any kind of blown-out or candy-coated look to games, photos or video. If anything, the colors look brighter and more vibrant than any other display I have looked at. That includes TVs, desktop monitors, etc. Motorola's Droid Turbo uses a very similar sub-pixel pattern and is based on the type of Super AMOLED display, resulting in a nearly identical color quality.

Viewing angles on the phone are impressive with very little color shifting from either side or top and bottom. This means that reading notifications while the phone is sitting on your desk is comfortable and the need for a kickstand device is unnecessary. 

Corning Gorilla Glass 3 sits atop the display offering a range of purported features including better clarity, better scratch resistance, and thinner designs. Oh, and it doesn’t soften until you hit 912C, so we should be safe.

Comparing the Note 4 to other high end smartphones creates an interesting debate. The iPhone 6 Plus only has a 1920x1080 screen with a 401 ppi pixel density, but no one is complaining about the image quality on the iPhone 6 screens and they are still considered the standard in smart phones today. That being said, I would have to say that viewing similar images and videos on the two devices side by side, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 just looked better. Images appeared brighter and with a higher contrast to them. It’s likely a matter of opinion, but I can easily see how the Samsung device would get the affirmation from many consumers.

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