- 01-28-2013, 09:52 AM #1
Ok, so I have had the Lumia 920 and the 810 for a while now. After spending some good time with both doing everything from reading eBooks, web browsing, browsing photo galleries, playing games, watching both streamed videos and locally stored HD videos, writing emails, and browsing maps, I've come to the conclusion that such high PPI screens are overrated. Can I tell the difference? Yes I definitely can. BUT.......
Does the 800x480 screen reduce my enjoyment of any of the above activities? No it doesn't.
Does it make my eyes strain or make things harder to read? No. Diagonals are more jagged but it is no harder to read and identify the words.
Do games look better? Yes they do. Again, diagonals are more jagged, but I still don't have difficulty identifying or aiming at anything. HD also needs more 3d horsepower (and more battery) to run. I'm sure there are some instances where we lose out on frame rates just because of all the extra pixels. I'd rather have frame rates personally.
Photographs? Well, I am extra picky about this as I am a professional photographer full time. What surprised me though is that I still think that photos look totally fine on the Lumia 810. Better on the 920? Yes, but it doesn't mean the 810 is not VERY pleasing to view photos on. If you didn't have a 920/8x/whatever to compare to, you would probably really enjoy looking at photos on the "low res" screens. I mean, small to medium sized professional prints are typically printed at 200-300 ppi, and still are not as clear and detailed as the beautiful screen on the 810. So I determined that I definitely don't need a "retina" type screen for photo enjoyment. It's there and I'm not complaining, but I certainly wouldn't consider it as important. If it was gone I wouldn't miss it.
As for video, well, honestly, on a 4.3-4.5" screen, 480p vs 720p is very hard to notice the diff unless you are specifically looking for diagonal lines in the background. My business also provides some pro video services, and anyone in pro video knows that 99.99% of Hollywood movies use what's called the 180 degree shutter technique. I won't explain it but its purpose is to blur any kind of movement, whether it be objects or actors moving, or the camera panning or moving. This is why the footage is not usually crystal clear when you pause a video, unless its a VERY slow moving scene. So on such a tiny screen, I am really not feeling the need for HD resolutions in video files, especially knowing all movement is purposely blurred, and the pixels are too small to make out fine details, especially with typical Hollywood fast-cut editing you have no time to appreciate razor sharp edges. When I deliver mobile-optimized video files to clients, 480p is as high as I go. 720 and 1080 make a diff on large screens, but we're talking like 4-5 inch screens here! Again, I find it a waste of space and battery to have HD bids on my 920. In fact, 360 lines looks absolutely fantastic on my 920. The conversion/rendering quality plays a larger role in overall viewing pleasure than the sheer resolution IMHO.
Web browsing, well, you can certainly notice a difference when you are looking at a page at full width in portrait orientation. But the thing is, the text is too darn small to read comfortably unless you zoom in to a specific part of the page. And once you zoom in and the text is larger, there is NO problem whatsoever reading it at 800x480. Full width view is more of an overview, rather than a true reading format. And if a site is designed and optimized for mobile, then there is no real PRACTICAL benefit from the HD screen. Text looks fine, and as mentioned, photos look great too. So in a nutshell, when text is displayed at a readable size, it's still quite COMFORTABLY readable at 800x480. This goes for web, readers, email, or whatever other text based stuff.
When it comes to maps, I use Nokia maps and Drive. Vectorized maps will have LOTS of diagonals which is where the high res screens shine. But again, we are talking PRACTICAL differences, and having slightly jagged diagonals isn't going to prevent you from finding your destination. In fact, all the dedicated GPS units use lower res screens, its only the most expensive models that have finally moved up to 800x480, and there's only a couple, and they cost more than a Lumia 810. So I'd say the high res gives no *practical* benefit when it comes to mobile mapping for the typical user.
To be honest, the HD screen is one of the reasons I got the Lumia 920, but if I knew what I know now, I probably would have just sprung for the 810 only. The pureview camera is the 920's saving grace so I'm still happy I bought it, but the HD+ screen is definitely not a selling point to me anymore at all.
Now with people begging for windows phone 8 to support 1080 resolutions, it just makes me shake my head. Heck, 720 would be a great res for a 10" screen IMO, and people want 1080 in a 5-6" screen??? Seriously??? What's the point? It just feels like people are begging for pixels just for specs sake. You know, mine is bigger than yours syndrome. This is not like a desktop PC where more resolution means you can fit more onto the screen. In the mobile arena, everything is already optimally sized for finger touching and can't get any smaller, so regardless of the resolution, we won't really get more screen real estate. Even Apple's Retina macbook pro by default does NOT allow you to set your desktop to full 1:1 pixel resolution, because it would severely compromise usability.
What do you think?
01-28-2013, 10:10 AM #3
- 341 Posts
It is a luxury feature, and totally not needed. However, smartphones are luxury things too, we don't really need them. I definitely enjoy the HD+ on my Lumia 920 more. 1080p might be overkill, but I've never seen one in real life so it may well be a worthy upgrade. When Microsoft announced WP8 and it supporting the "latest and greatest hardware" I thought they meant it. No quad core phones and no 1080p and other broken promises like Temple Run and Pandora are making me irritated. However, I can't see myself going back to iStale or Droidlag.
- 01-28-2013, 10:14 AM #5
Nice post, really interesting. I too wasn't super impressed when I compared my Lumia 900 screen with a Samsung Ativ S in a BestBuy. I thought the HD screen would be a HUGE diff but actually on WP, its doesn't seem to take full advantage of the bigger number of pixels overall.
I don't say I won't upgrade to a WP8 device but I was not like blown away by the higher resolution.
- 01-28-2013, 10:30 AM #7
I agree. I looked at the DNA last week and yes, I could see a difference in sharpness on high contrast web pages (zero difference for photo and video), but you really need to be looking for it. For all practical purposes, the higher resolution is irrelevant or even detrimental. Maybe it's useful to those that use their nose to swipe left and right, but at more normal reading distances it makes no difference.
So, I still think 1080p displays at 5" are about spec-whoring. At 7" I would start caring again, but below that size I would much rather see better color reproduction and better white and black levels.
- 01-28-2013, 10:43 AM #8
My eyes aren't that good so I will never notice a difference in resolution between 720P and 1080P on a smartphone. Screen technology is just as important imo as resolution too. I went from a 3.8" Trophy to a 4.3" 822 with the same resolution and the 822 looks much better due to the amoled technology.
- 01-28-2013, 10:47 AM #9
didn't read all that, but doesn't matter what you see, it what you see on the spec box.
Is there need for a super high def 1080p with huge resolution screen phone? No, but does that get buyers to cream their pants over it? Yes. It is not about performance, it is only about perceived performance. I would guess most people would have a difficult time finding out the difference anyway, but it does matter when it comes to selling the product.
- 01-28-2013, 10:56 AM #11
Misunderstanding the impact of higher resolution displays on perceived quality is the only failing here... although a fair share of the blame must be placed on the shoulders of marketing departments, who would have us believe resolution is the be-all-end-all metric for display quality. It's BS of course, just as it is with camera megapixel values.
01-28-2013, 10:56 AM #12
- 80 Posts
are you kidding. I had a Focus S for a year. The jump to the 920 was abolutely night and day. The high res screen is unbelievable and totally worth the hype. I busted out my Focus S the other day for kicks. The screen looked humorously bad.
The overall sharpness of the 920's screen (due to the resolution, not gimmicky Nokia "clearwhatever" technology) still gets me to stare at it in awe sometimes, even after almost 3 months of using this phone.
- 01-28-2013, 11:10 AM #14
None of this would bother me, if it didn't so often end up being counter productive. In many regards our devices actually end up being worse (in this case less brightness, lower frame rates in games and higher GPU power draw), for the purpose of being easier to sell to the masses.
I'll admit to that being somewhat over generalized. Some few people really might notice a difference well over 400 PPI, maybe 1%.
Last edited by a5cent; 01-28-2013 at 11:44 AM.
- 01-28-2013, 12:51 PM #15
When it comes to web browsing I see the biggest difference. I rarely have to zoom now on my 920. On my 800 I had to zoom a lot more.
Apart from that everything just looks more smooth.
That said I have to agree. I would still have bought the 920 if it was a 4" 480x800! Also I have an iPad2 (non retina) and I enjoy that just as much as if it had been a 3 or 4. (not that I use it that much anymore)
- 01-28-2013, 01:33 PM #18
I think people buying phones will decide whether they want a higher resolution or not, and therefore WP8 should give the option to implement a higher resolution than 1280 x 768.
Would I see the difference? I don't know, haven't seen a 1080p phone around here, but I see a difference for sure between my HTC 8X and my Omnia W. (Yes, I know, LCD and AMOLED is not really comparable, but still, the difference is huge.)
I've read reviews in which they praised the DNA's resolution.
- 01-28-2013, 02:15 PM #20
- 01-28-2013, 02:34 PM #21
I just feel like they are cramming specs, driving costs up, and it only pleases like 3% of the buyers. The rest don't even notice as they browse facebook and play angry birds.
01-28-2013, 03:34 PM #22
- 112 Posts
If you think high ppi displays are "overrated" - well, then don't buy such devices. I really like the high PPI displays on both my iPhone 4s and Lumia 920, I can definitely notice the difference between them and devices with lower pixel density displays when reading the text, watching videos/photos or playing the games (especially when reading unzoomed text - I prefer not to zoom in if it's not necessary), so I do not think it's an "overkill" for me or that "it's not worth its price". Different people (perhaps with different eyesight level) will have a different opinion about this, both are equally valid, so... This thread is kinda pointless ;-)
01-28-2013, 05:08 PM #23
- 361 Posts
For 4-5" phone display, 720p does make a noticeable improvement over 480p, but I would say other aspects of display performance such as color accuracy and contrast ratio (black levels) are equally important. One thing I begun to appreciate only recently is Nokia's ClearBlack technology. It's amazing how easy it is to read in sunny outdoors compared to my old Focus. With Focus, I had to squint just to see if it's on or off. Not anymore with L920.
1080p on 5" or less is overrated greatly.
01-29-2013, 12:47 PM #25
- 249 Posts
Software and calibration makes a huge difference. You don't really notice the resolution unless they optimize it right. For example, the screen on my LG Optimus G makes the screen on my HTC 8x look like a joke despite the 8x having the higher pixel density. This is most noticeable in the browser and HD video. Watch the UP 1080p trailer on both and it is night and day.
However, the more telling example of this is between my Optimus G and Nexus 4. They both have exactly the same screen but the Nexus 4 also looks like crap next to the Optimus G.
Last edited by eric12341; 01-29-2013 at 01:54 PM.
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