At the moment, comparing Sprint's LTE results is trickier since Sprint's network covers only 19 cities. But once it reaches New York or San Francisco we'll test the same phones and add the data here. I know it's not earth-shattering news, but both the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S3 smoked the iPhone 4S all around.
But even the LTE handsets weren't in line. On Big Red, the iPhone 5 delivered superior download speeds while the Galaxy S3 enjoyed almost double the upload speeds. Keep in mind that your results may vary depending on your location, the strength of a carrier's network at a given the time, and the number of people using it around you. Carrier network performance changes constantly so there's no way to guarantee that you'll get the same results as we found.
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The LTE indicator is a welcome addition to the iPhone 5's display. CNET Though its thinner profile and longer screen are two of the iPhone 5's top draws, I'm more interested in what's inside Apple's newest handset.
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Hands-on with the sharp, slim iPhone 5 pictures 24 Photos. Comparing the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 iPhone 5 vs. Galaxy S3 vs. According to my measurements in a completely dark room, the Galaxy S3 has a contrast ratio of more than 11, That's roughly 10 times as much contrast. To say that these screens are as different as night and day isn't too much of an exaggeration. In a dark environment, the better contrast of the Samsung's screen will cause its image to look punchier, especially with high-contrast material like dark scenes in a movie or a nighttime photo.
Under normal room lighting or brighter, particularly a daytime sky, that advantage will dwindle and the brighter screen of the iPhone will shine through, overcoming ambient light to provide a more legible, clearer image for all types of material. Which phone looks better overall in terms of contrast depends on ambient lighting, what material you're looking at, and the brightness you have the screen set to at half brightness, for example, the contrast ratio of the Galaxy S3 drops roughly in half, while the iPhone's remains about the same.
Color accuracy The advantage of the iPhone in this area is much more clear-cut. The gamut of the Samsung, since it's a good deal larger than the standard gamut, causes colors to look more saturated than they should. Green, in particular, is much, well, greener than it should be. The iPhone produces much more realistic, natural color. The color temperatures of the two phones are more similar, within an average of degrees Kelvin of one another, at full screen brightness.
The iPhone is still better, however, especially in terms of RGB balance -- the Samsung is minus-red and plus-blue, and though the iPhone is too, it's not as bad.
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Photos viewed on each screen bore out the test results. Colors from skin tones to tree leaves to flowers to neon signs looked punchier and more saturated on the Samsung's screen than on the iPhone's, where shot after shot looked more natural. Subjectively, some people might find the Galaxy S3's improper gamut preferable to the iPhone's proper one.
Put another way, if you prefer oversaturated colors think Dynamic or Vivid mode on a TV you'll like the Galaxy S3 better, and if you want colors that more accurately portray the source, the iPhone 5 is the clear choice. Into the weeds: Methodology I tested three different samples of both phones. I measured each phone once at 50 percent brightness and once at percent brightness, keeping the ambient light sensor turned off.
To match the experience of a typical user as closely as possible, I did not change any of the other display-affecting settings from their defaults. Some of these, such as disabling "Auto adjust screen tone" on the Galaxy S3, may improve test results, and I may cover them in a future update, but they're largely beyond the scope of this test. The phone screens were measured by a state-of-the-art spectroradiometer, the Konica Minolta CS , in a completely dark room.
The phones were held using a small tripod at a uniform distance 16 inches perpendicular to the lens, and I focused as close as possible to the exact center of the screen. The patterns originated from SpectraCal , manufacturers of the CalMan 4 software I used to power this evaluation. Black, gray, and white luminance was measured from 0 percent black to percent white in 11 increments of 10 percent each, while color gamut was measured at 75 percent luminance.
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In the interests of keeping these tests as objective as possible, I measured only black, gray, and white levels and color. I didn't address resolution mainly because I don't consider it a major differentiating factor -- the iPhone's screen can get sharper, but the Samsung's is plenty sharp for most people.
I also ignored viewing angle since it's less relevant to phones; a phone is usually held in your hand, so you can freely move it to the ideal perpendicular viewing angle. I didn't test reflectance, which is the measure of how exactly the screen handles reflections and ambient light. It's an important factor, but I currently lack the expertise and facilities to evaluate it properly. If you're curious, Raymond Soneira at DisplayMate tests reflectance, among many other points of interest, in his excellent " Flagship smartphone display technology shoot-out.
I also didn't go into the same depth of color testing as another evaluator whose work I greatly respect, Chris Heinonen. His article at AnandTech, " The iPhone 5 display: Thoroughly analyzed, " came to similar conclusions about the iPhone 5's color accuracy and contrast.
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Heinonen's and Soneira's work was helpful in developing my test, as was that of Geoff Morrison. Better late than never, here's the raw data used for the chart above, in the form of charts and a Google spreadsheet averaging the measurements I took from three samples of each phone. How much does image quality matter on a phone? I typically review TVs, a product for which the image quality produced by the screen at a given size and price is or should be, IMHO the most important factor. Cell phones are a whole 'nuther ball of wax. In my personal opinion, the quality of the images produced by the screens of today's phones is much less important than handset design, brand, carrier, software, and ecosystem.
I actually plan to buy a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 myself , mainly because I like its size and capabilities, and I'm a longtime Android user who loves the low rates of T-Mobile. I expect its screen to perform similarly to a Galaxy S3's, and worse than that of the iPhone 5 for example, but that's not an important-enough factor to prevent me from buying one. It's still worth talking about the quality of cell phone and tablet screens , however, especially because they can be so different. As we consume more data, videos, and photos on these small screens, how capable they are of producing accurate, realistic images becomes more and more important.
And as with any product you'll be committing to using frequently for two years or more, it's nice to know what you're looking at. Originally this article included measurements of and references to gamma that were incorrect for the Galaxy S3 due to its tendency to dynamically adjust the screen. They have been removed.