Update: Due to the Galaxy S having a separate setting for browser brightness, which we didn't max out in the original investigation, we've gone back and collected some truly 100 percent illuminated pictures. See the gallery after the break. Keep in mind that this shouldn't discredit most of the work done here, as we were more interested in pixel-level detail than brightness.
iPhone 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy S display face-offSee all photos
First thing's first: all the images in our gallery are left entirely untouched, with the first four being 100 percent crops of the original camera output, altered only to insert our watermark and phone notation. The quickest thing to stand out to us when putting this set of photos together was the iPhone's brightness. The Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy S remains pretty much a standard-setting screen, and yet it
Update: Thanks to an arcane browser-specific brightness setting on the Galaxy S, we were originally looking at less than the full force of the S-AMOLED panel. Consequently, we went back to Samsung's offices for another look at the two displays and have now produced the comparison gallery below. It gives a taste both of the displays' capabilities and of the browser rendering being done beneath them. It's important to note that we didn't feel there was any tangible difference in the Samsung display's output beyond the obvious increase in brightness. Ergo, the rest of our observations stand as before.
iPhone 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S: displays at full brightnessSee all photos
Viewing angles are pretty much impossible to split, though we're inclined to give the iPhone the thinnest of edges here as it seemed to give us that bit more definition from tight viewpoints. But consider that a nuanced draw rather than any sort of win.
When we brought the pair outside for some time in the sunshine, we were immediately disappointed by a typical turn for the worse by the British weather, but there was enough light to challenge both displays. Should you ever have the somewhat unusual circumstances of having light beaming directly down onto the screen without your noggin casting a helpful shadow, neither display will give you any great usability. But cast that shadow, turn away from the sunlight, do anything to avoid the direct rays, and you'll get some pretty sweet utility out of both. Once again, it's a pretty impossible task to differentiate between the output of the Retina Display and Super AMOLED, though if we have to choose, Samsung will get the nod. This really is a territory where personal preference will determine which the better screen will be, the differences are that minuscule.
The one standout differentiator between the two will have been apparent by gazing upon our gallery: the Retina Display really whoops on the Super AMOLED on the pixel level. Definition still looks ridiculous on the iPhone 4, and Samsung simply can't match it there. You should be mindful, however, that the delta between the two when you stick them right next to your eye is nowhere near as pronounced in real world use. In fact, checking out our giraffe picture comparison, the Super AMOLED seems to exhibit stronger color saturation and sharper definition, in spite of looking pixelated sat next to Apple's smoother curvatures. Stick both at a normal distance away from the user, and it will likely come down to personal preference again. Some of our own staff have found the Galaxy S' display to be oversaturated, whereas this editor felt it was just about spot on. Maybe this is an artifact of us looking at different handsets, but we're inclined to think it's indicative of the role user preference has to play in the final conclusions reached when looking at these screens. Anyhow, enough yapping from us, go check out the videos already.