Let’s head back to the screen for a minute. The 5-inch 1080p HD display yields a pixel density of 441ppi, which is higher than Apple’s 321ppi screen and lower than the HTC One’s 468ppi screen. In the end, I’m not sure how much these pixel density wars matter. The naked eye doesn’t calibrate numbers, but it does understand if an image looks rich and sharp and detailed, versus dull and blurred.
Carrying on its fine tradition, the Galaxy S4’s HD AMOLED display nails it with color saturation and contrast, sharply defined edges and details. Articles are easy to read, gameplay looks good, and photos and videos look terrific.
In a new display setting, Samsung attempts to correct an old complaint about certain colors, like green, looking too saturated. In the screen mode settings, you can choose to let the GS4 auto-adjust the color tone depending on what you’re looking at. As on the Galaxy Note 2, you can also manually select from dynamic, professional photo, and movie presets, the latter of which CNET display guru David Katzmaier says yields the most accurate colors.
There are a few other important things to note about the Galaxy S4’s display besides color and sharpness. As with the GS3, this year’s model is highly reflective indoors and out, and even at its full brightness, it can seem dim outside when fighting bright light.
Outdoor readability in strong sunlight is really tough; when taking photos, I very often couldn’t tell that my finger covered the lens until I got back inside, a plight that ruined several pictures. Now would have been the time for Samsung to follow Nokia’s lead with its excellent polarized screen filter on phones like the Nokia Lumia 920.
At least Samsung did mimic another terrific Nokia implementation, giving the S4 a sensitive screen you can navigate with a gloved hand in addition to the naked finger.
On top of possessing a sensitive screen, the Galaxy S4 is also the first commercially available device to feature the thinner, stronger Gorilla Glass 3 cover glass.