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Despite the popularity of the iPhone, viewing its otherwise stellar display outdoors can often be a challenge, particularly in bright sunlight. Nokia has taken advantage of this weakness to market its new Lumia 900 Windows Phone handset, and now independent research appears to back up those claims.
DisplayMate Technologies Corporation has published the results of a new Bright Ambient Lighting Shoot-Out, which pits nine popular smartphones and tablets against each other to see which one performs best in the great outdoors.
“Tablets and Smartphones are seldom viewed in the dark,” explains Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate. “While they all look about the same in the dark, as the Ambient Lighting levels increase, particularly outdoors, there are dramatic differences in screen viewability between models. We evaluated 4 Tablets and 5 Smartphones under a wide range of ambient lighting (0 to 40,000 lux) and include both Lab Measurements and Viewing Test Screen Shots to objectively compare the units.”
Although the current iPhone 4S wasn’t among the test subjects, the previous iPhone 4 tied for second place with the original Samsung Galaxy S. Nokia’s Lumia 900 landed firmly in the top spot with a Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light (CR HAL) rating of 90.
“This results from a combination of its high screen Brightness and low screen Reflectance, which Nokia calls ClearBlack technology,” Dr. Ray elaborates. By comparison, the iPhone 4 had a CR HAL rating of 77, while the Samsung Galaxy S fared a bit better at 80.
The larger screen of tablets makes for a much more challenging problem with ambient light. Soneira notes that even the best tablets “all performed a notch below the smartphones,” with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in first place with a CR HAL rating of 57 and the iPad 2 in second place with 47. (The new iPad wasn’t included in this shoot-out, but Soneira notes that it does perform better than last year’s model.)
Claiming that “all manufacturers need to pay much more attention to their display performance in high ambient lighting because that is frequently how they are used,” Dr. Ray notes that the other pair of tablets performed considerably more dismally than the top two, with Amazon’s Kindle Fire at CR HAL 24 and the Motorola Xoom at a mere 20.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter