Display

One of the major points of emphasis for us in the smartphone space continues to be display, as even though you can replace a display on a phone, the only real reason to do so is if you shatter the glass cover of the display. As a result, on pretty much any device it becomes critical to get this aspect of the device right from the very start with little to no end user intervention. Issues like low maximum brightness, poor contrast, poor viewing angles, poor color and/or contrast stability, and all kinds of other problems can severely compromise a smartphone experience. At the high end, there’s increasingly less room for these kinds of issues, especially as companies like Samsung and Apple are shipping almost flawless displays at this point in the smartphone industry.

The problem is that it’s hard for people to really agree on what makes a great display at times. Some people want the vivid and colorful display possible, while other prefer accurate color reproduction. Some people want a cold color cast, while others prefer if a display is warm.

There are certain performance characteristics where it is obvious that more or less is better, like peak brightness, contrast, color and contrast stability with viewing angles, resolution, and power efficiency. However, for color calibration we elect to test against the standard sRGB gamut with a D6500 white point and power 2.2 gamma as it’s likely that most web content will be targeted to those standards. We will make a reasonable effort to ensure that a display is set to an appropriate mode that would get close to sRGB, but we will continue to draw the line at anything that requires a colorimeter such as an arbitrary color balance and/or gamut slider. In order to measure the calibration error, we use SpectraCal’s CalMAN 5, along with X-Rite’s i1Pro2 and i1Display Pro.

In the interest of exploring the G4's display further this time around, we'll also test the G4's display against the DCI gamut. DCI stands for Digital Cinema Initiatives, and this group sets various standards for resolution and color for various equipment in the film industry. This includes a gamut, which is noticeably wider than sRGB, and also has a different white point and gamma standard. As a result, what is accurate for sRGB is completely inaccurate for DCI's gamut and vice versa. This is done because LG is claiming that the G4 supports the DCI gamut, which is accomplished by new backlight phosphors that allow for more pure red and green light to be emitted from the display. Presumably, because the DCI gamut is used in the movie industry, movies watched on a display supporting DCI gamut will look more accurate.

In the case of the G4 though, it's likely that LG wants to really show off the wider gamut that their new LCD can enable, which is why we're seeing an attempt to cover the DCI v1.2 gamut. After all, if they've put the work into a display that can enable wider gamut, it would probably be a waste to then constrain it to sRGB for every shipping configuration.

Display - Max Brightness

Display - Black Levels

Display - Contrast Ratio

Our first test focuses on simple brightness and contrast at the highest brightness level. In this test, LG has managed to significantly improve their display over the G3, which puts the G4’s LCD at a somewhat average level for smartphones. It isn’t quite as high as the iPhone 6 or the Galaxy S6, but given the much higher subpixel density it’s an amazing showing and comparable to other smartphones that have stayed at 1080p.

Black levels are relatively low though, and the result is a surprisingly high contrast level for an LCD which remained around the same level even when using APL-constant patterns to defeat dynamic contrast at roughly 1500:1 static contrast. This was probably one of the first things that I noticed when using the LG G4, as the G3 in comparison was far more washed-out in just about every situation.

It seems that these improvements have been enabled with the use of photoalignment technology, which shares similarities with photolithography but attempts to induce anisotropy in a photoresist analogue on a glass substrate, which then influences the orientation of the deposited liquid crystals in the LCD. In daytime I didn’t have issues reading the display, although it isn’t as easy to read as the S6’s display with auto boost mode enabled.

While we’re still on the subject of contrast and color shifting, in my experience the LG G4’s display didn’t have any noticeable issues with wash-out unless you stare at a black image, and subjectively colors stay true to the eye in just about every viewing angle. The display is also laminated close to the glass, which makes the phone look like the display is painted on when you look closely at most images from extreme viewing angles. LG has also eliminated the rather annoying sharpening effects from the display, which counts as a pretty dramatic improvement in my book for readability as the sharpening effects on the G3 were incredibly annoying with extended reading.

sRGB

DCI

Display - White Point

Display - Grayscale Accuracy

Moving on to the grayscale portion of the test, things get a bit less rosy. The G4’s display has a pretty strong blue cast to it much like the One M9, although gamma is relatively consistent if slightly low for presumably better shadow detail. I suspect this is partially done to improve peak brightness output and partially because a segment of end users prefer a cold display, but LG could improve their standing in this test by adding a toggle to set warm, neutral, and cold white points. As the DCI 1.2 gamut needs power 2.6 gamma and a relatively balanced white point, the G4 will have some problems with accurate rendition of grayscale with DCI content.

sRGB

DCI

Display - Saturation Accuracy

Looking at the saturation sweep for the display, we can immediately tell that the G4 misses the sRGB colorspace. However, the way this is done is rather uneven. On the red and magenta sweep, the color is correct up to 80% and it’s somewhere between 80 and 100% where the display will exceed sRGB. However, colors like cyan and green don’t do saturation compression, so the error from sRGB is evenly spaced. Blue ends up meeting sRGB pretty closely here despite saturation compression, which is an improvement from the significant saturation compression of the G3 display. Unfortunately, the excessively wide gamut results in a relatively average/poor showing in this test. Even when I target the DCI gamut, the issues with gamma and general calibration issues means that the average dE2000 error is roughly double that of the sRGB average dE2000 error at 8.89.

sRGB

DCI

Display - GMB Accuracy

As one might have guessed from the previous two results, the end result for the LG G4 is that color accuracy isn’t quite as good as one might have hoped. Due to an excessively wide gamut and a cold color cast, the G4’s display ends up slightly disappointing. Even when we target the DCI gamut for testing, the G4 falls short as the calibration is closer to the sRGB settings that we use than DCI with an average error of 9.72. However, the panel itself is high quality given the high contrast, relatively high peak luminance, and great viewing angles. As-is, it’s close to the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 Plus for display quality, but falls short due to lack of calibration. I think the solution here would be for LG to provide an sRGB toggle that would set white point to target 6504k and sRGB colorspace, but this would have to start with the LG G5 as it’s too late at this point to meaningfully change things here.

Introduction and Design Camera Architecture and UX
POST A COMMENT

84 Comments

View All Comments

  • Impulses - Friday, July 31, 2015 - link

    I get that Anandtech is US centric to an extent, but with a lot of people in the US opting for contract-less plans to save money it might make sense to start factoring price into the equation when it comes to flagships... I wouldn't even have a clue if there are any significant differences, last phone I bought was the N5 and that was the first and only phone I've paid for in full w/o subsidy. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    Such a shame Qualcomm didn't make the 808's cores faster (say, 2GHz) and equip it with at least the adreno 420.
    I understand why they didn't, and given the 810's design wins, their strategy clearly worked, but it still leads me to wonder "what if".
    I wonder what's going on with their implementation of cci(assuming that's the culprit)? They've had enough experience by now to know how to properly implement a standard two tier cache system.
    Reply
  • Buk Lau - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    if they boosted the 808 to higher clocks, which I'm sure they could since all they've been doing since 801 is just overclocking the chips, that would give OEMs more incentives to choose the 808 over the 810. let's say this, if the 808 comes higher clocked A57s and adreno 420, how many people do you think would even consider the 810? After all the 810 is much more profitable than 808. It just sucks to see how many OEMs got burnt by 810.
    in a sense, OEMs only have themselves to blame rather than qualcomm for having to release junk phones all over this year. back in the old days qualcomm's SoCs suffered even worse overheating and performance and yet OEMs still persist to use their stuff, simply because they offered an integrated modem
    if they didn't spoil qualcomm so much back then, there wouldn't be so little choices in the SoC market with players like Texas instruments and others competing against qualcomm.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Friday, July 31, 2015 - link

    Don't NVidia and Intel have integrated modems at this point? They're still making SoCs, as is Samsung, seems there's still plenty of choices... We lost what, TI and Sony? I must be forgetting others, I remember lamenting the contracting SoC market too... Reply
  • whiteiphoneproblems - Thursday, July 30, 2015 - link

    "It seems that these improvements have been enabled with the use of photoalignment technology, which shares similarities with photolithography but attempts to induce anisotropy in a photoresist analogue on a glass substrate..."

    Well, you won't see a sentence like that in Gizmodo.com...!
    Reply
  • zodiacfml - Friday, July 31, 2015 - link

    Another excellent review. Thanks. I also love it when you include many other phones such as the Nexus 5 and Moto G in the benchmarks.
    Good thing the dual core has real life advantages over the 810. The 8 core spec is nothing but marketing advantage.
    As a camera enthusiast, I would also love the manual controls. Yet, I don't think I would use it too often as the control you could get doesn't add to much to the image quality. I mean, using HDR mode pretty much fixes the IQ weaknesses of smartphone cameras to dedicated, larger cameras. The worse noise in the corners probably indicates vignetting with the lenses, only it is fixed/lifted in processing.

    Few months after release, the G4 is now slightly cheaper compared to S6 yet I don't think it is enough. The S6 still has a lot better value to G4 because of the display and SoC. The external build quality and video specs makes the S6 even higher. The only fault of the S6 is the small battery they included with it. The Note 5 surely will fix that but it's going to be much more expensive.
    Reply
  • Mugur - Friday, July 31, 2015 - link

    Nice review, although some phrases were a bit too strange for my taste...

    "One of the major points of emphasis for us in the smartphone space continues to be display, as even though you can replace a display on a phone, the only real reason to do so is if you shatter the glass cover of the display."

    And, of course, I fully disagree with the claim that "the GS6 is roughly equal to or slightly worse than the iPhone 6 Plus as a camera overall". In my personal experience, the S6 camera is the best all-around camera, at least with auto settings and I'm not a Samsung fan...
    Reply
  • victorson - Friday, July 31, 2015 - link

    Hey Josh! You're fired. Reply
  • neo_1221 - Friday, July 31, 2015 - link

    I got a laugh out of that too. :D Reply
  • mpokwsths - Friday, July 31, 2015 - link

    These ridiculous nand/storage benchmarks... Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now