Report: Bigger size of iPhone 5's screen least impressive thing about it

Yes, the iPhone 5′s screen is bigger than that of its predecessor. But that’s not the real reason why it’s impressive, according to a new report.

The iPhone 5′s new elongated screen offers a modest increase in screen space. But in terms of other objective criteria, particularly the accuracy of the colors it displays, the new screen blows away not only those of past iPhone models, but the competition as well, according to the report from research firm DisplayMate.

“It is the best smartphone display we have seen to date,” Dr. Raymond Soneira, DisplayMate’s president, said in the report.

Compared with the screen on Samsung’s Galaxy S III, the iPhone 5′s display is much more accurate at displaying color; is much brighter; reflects less ambient light, making it easier to read outside; and consumes significantly less power, according to the report. It also comes out of the box needing almost no calibration to display images and colors accurately.

“The display on the iPhone 5 is a significant improvement over the display on the iPhone 4,” said Soneira in the report. “Apple has uncharacteristically understated how much better the display is on the iPhone 5.”

By contrast, if you are feeling a bit underwhelmed by the size of the screen on the new iPhone, there’s good reason why, as a new report also details.

At 4-inches in diagonal, the iPhone 5′s display is about a half inch taller than that on previous iPhone models, while being the same width across. Thanks to that change, the new display offers 6.7 square inches in screen area, according to the report. That’s about 1 square inch more area than the display on prior iPhone models, or an increase of about 17.5 percent.

That’s a noticeable difference and enough to allow Apple to offer an extra row of app icons on the device’s home screens. But it’s a relatively modest change, especially compared with the competition.

Even with the extra space, the iPhone 5′s screen is still 46 percent smaller than that on the Galaxy S III. While the iPhone 5′s display offers a denser resolution in terms of pixels per square inch, that on the Galaxy S III has more horizontal and vertical pixels. The extra pixels and larger screen means that the Galaxy S III can simply display more stuff on the screen; unlike the iPhone 5, the Galaxy S III can show a 720p movie at full resolution.

But, as the DisplayMate report indicates, even if it’s bigger, the movie might not look as good.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (274 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.