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HTC Droid DNA vs. iPhone 5 (And Everyone Else): Who's Got the Best Display? (UPDATED)

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We just got our hands on the HTC Droid DNA this morning, and our first impressions were very promising. The screen is really, really gorgeous. But, how gorgeous is it when you put it next to the other best smartphones?

We decided to pit the Droid DNA against the iPhone 5, Nexus 4, HTC One X, and Samsung Galaxy S III (from left to right it's the iPhone, Nexus 4, Droid DNA, One X, and Galaxy S III). All screens were turned up to maximum brightness, as can be seen in the photo above. The first thing you'll note is that the Droid DNA isn't the brightest by a long shot; that title still belongs to the iPhone 5, followed by the One X (though the One X seems brighter because there are simply more pixels in total). Disappointing? Yes, though it's still plenty bright enough to be visible in daylight.


But what about color? The Super LCD 2 on the One X has been our previous favorite for color accuracy, so why the is the Super LCD 3 on the Droid DNA so blue? It's definitely a step behind the One X and the iPhone 5, though it's still a little better than Nexus 4—which is slightly greenish—and the Galaxy S III, which is really, really blue. But yeah, skin tones ain't what they should be here.


But a macro shot shows where the Droid DNA really shines: pixel density. The 440 PPI on the Droid DNA packs them in more tightly than anyone else, as the macro lens on our camera can see clearly. Our eyes, on the other hand, couldn't tell much of a difference at all. If you look very, very closely you can kinda of see a little more detail compared to the other "retina" displays, but we're talking almost unnoticeably slight.


So what's the verdict? Sadly, from what we can tell, the Super LCD 3 on the Droid DNA is not an improvement over the Super LCD 2 on the HTC One X. The tiny hair of perceptible added sharpness doesn't make up for the poor color calibration or the dimmer screen.


The HTC Droid DNA isn't a bad screen by any means. But it's the banner feature on this phone, and it's a step backward; it still lags behind the HTC One X and iPhone 5. Which seems like a wasted opportunity in a major way.

Smartphone Display Rankings
1st Place: HTC One X
2nd Place: Apple iPhone 5
3rd Place: HTC Droid DNA
4th Place: Google Nexus 4
5th Place: Samsung Galaxy S III


UPDATE: Now with Nokia Lumia 920 and Samsung Galaxy Note II

After we posted this, a lot of readers were politely asking (read: screaming and yelling) because we didn't include the Lumia 920 or the Galaxy Note II. Okay, fine, here's how they compare.


As you can see, the Lumia looks terrific in terms of brightness and color. It's still no where near the Droid DNA in terms of resolution, but again, the difference is almost imperceptible to the naked eye (and not to brag, but I have perfect vision). We'd take the better brightness and color accuracy. It's basically in the same category with the iPhone 5 and the One X. The Lumia 920 seems sharper because it uses a thicker typeface, but if you look at the size of the actual pixels, they're pretty comparable. The Galaxy Note II is clearly the worst of this lot and anyone yelling at us for not including it yesterday should feel embarrassed right now.