For better brightness, contrast and outdoor visibility In-Plane Switching (IPS) type LCD and AMOLED display panels are typically used. Nokia made a significant enhancement of both.
First in September 14, 2010 with the announcement of its ClearBlack technology “for improved outdoor visibility” with AMOLED displays in the new Nokia C6-01 and E7 smartphones. The AMOLED ClearBlack display variant used a year later in Nokia N9 “beat the Super AMOLED Plus of Samsung Galaxy S II in sunlight, and was almost exactly the same quality indoors” (see the below 3d party review). The later Lumia 800 has the same type of display as well as the earlier Nokia 700.
Next application of ClearBlack technology came in August 24, 2011 with the announcement of Nokia 701 having an IPS type LCD ClearBlack display. It got the “brightest screen on a mobile phone to date” title from its predecessor Nokia E7, moving even more ahead of the Apple iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S II in that regard. And later came two other models with IPS type LCD ClearBlack displays: Nokia 603 and Lumia 710.
So Nokia with it ClearBlack enhancement has now a clear lead in display technologies. Below you can find more details about all that, including a technical explanation of the ClearBlack enhancement approach from Nokia itself. Plenty of evidence is given first by independent third parties testing the current flagships from Nokia against their rivals, then all kind of explanation materials are included from Nokia, and an interview with Nokia developers of ClearBlack as well.
Update: Tablet and Smartphone Displays Under Bright Ambient Lighting Shoot-Out [by DisplayMate]:
– [For comparison the earlier one without Nokia ClearBlack Display technology]
Master Photo Grid for Viewing on High Resolution Displays [Round 1] [March 3, 2012]
- [Tablets] Apple iPad 2 – Amazon Kindle Fire – Motorola Xoom – Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
- [Smartphones] Apple iPhone 4 – HTC Desire – Motorola Droid X – Samsung Galaxy S
- [Tablets] Apple iPad 2 – Amazon Kindle Fire – Motorola Xoom – Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
- [Smartphones] Apple iPhone 4 – HTC Desire – Motorola Droid X – Nokia Lumia 900 – Samsung Galaxy S
The Master Photo Grid below includes Screen Shots from many of the Tablets and Smartphones in our Mobile Display Technology Shoot-Out article series. For more information on how Ambient Lighting affects the displays read the Results Highlights for Tablets or the Results Highlights for Smartphones. The visual results from the Screen Shots agree very well with the Lab measured DisplayMate Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light for Tablets and the Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light for Smartphones.
The Winner: The DisplayMate Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light for the displays ranges from a low of 15 (HTC Desire) to a high of 90 (Nokia Lumia 900). From both the Lab Measurements and the Screen Shot Viewing Tests (below) the top performing device for display viewability under Bright Ambient Lighting is the Nokia Lumia 900. This results from a combination of its high screen Brightness and low screen Reflectance, which Nokia calls ClearBlack technology.
The Samsung Galaxy S and Apple iPhone 4 are tied for second place.
The best Tablets all performed a notch below the Smartphones – the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was the leader, with the iPad 2 in second place. The new iPad (not included below) performs better than the iPad 2 and just behind the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The other Smartphones and Tablets performed well below these top models –
ALL manufacturers need to pay much more attention to their display performance in high Ambient Lighting because that is frequently how they are used. The highly touted and advertised display Contrast Ratio applies only to Absolute Darkness, which makes it pretty much irrelevant for mobile devices. Note that we plan on including the Lumia 900 in one of our upcoming Smartphone Shoot-Outs.
CR HAL is the DisplayMate Contrast Rating for High Ambient Light – which is based on the measured Screen Brightness and Screen Reflectance.
Update: The core products with ClearBlack technology [April 18, 2012]
|TFT with capacitive touch||AMOLED with capacitive touch|
|Nokia C6-01 (November, 2010): 3.2″, 16:9 nHD (640×360 pixels), 16.7 million colours|
|Nokia E7 (February, 2011): 4″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels), 16 million colours|
|Nokia 701 (September, 2011): 3.5″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels) IPS-LCD, 16 million colours; 160° viewing angle, Corning® Gorilla® Glass||Nokia 700 (September, 2011): 3.2″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels), 16 million colours|
|Nokia 603 (November, 2011): 3.5″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels), with IPS technology, 16.7 million colours; 160° viewing angle, 1000 nits brightness||Nokia Lumia 800 (November, 2011): 3.7” WVGA, 800 x 480 pixels, 16 million colours, with pinch zoom, 2.5D curved glass seamlessly integrated to unibody (Windows Phone, manufactured by Compal Electronics)|
|Nokia Lumia 710 (November, 2011): 3.7” WVGA, 800 x 480 pixels, 16 million colours, with pinch zoom (Windows Phone, manufactured by Compal Electronics)||Nokia Lumia 900 (April, 2012): 4.3″ WVGA, 800 x 480 pixels, 16 million colours, with pinch zoom (Windows Phone, manufactured by Compal Electronics)|
|Nokia 808 PureView (May, 2012): 4″, 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels), 16.7 million colours, Corning® Gorilla® Glass, 2.5 D curved glass|
Update: Clear, black and super bright [Nokia Conversations, Feb 2, 2012]
Being able to answer emails and access entertainment while you’re out and about is one of the greatest revolutions in work and leisure of the last 100 years.
But the whole thing’s scuppered if the sun’s shining right on your screen and reflections mean you can’t see anything. In fact, the problem’s become worse in recent years as we’ve largely switched to full screen, touch-driven displays.
But making the screen brighter and brighter has a big drawback. Big, modern screens use up a lot more power than the 1.5-inch mono display on your old Nokia 3310. There comes a point where you’d be prepared for the screen to be a little dimmer if it meant you could get a couple more hours’ use out of your phone.
So a second strand to improving outdoor usability needed to be devised. One that focused on reducing the reflectiveness of your screen. Anti-reflective coatings were introduced. But they don’t go quite far enough.
That’s why Nokia created ClearBlack display.
ClearBlack display uses a sequence of polarising layers to eliminate reflections.
You have probably tried polarising sunglasses before now and so have a rough idea of how that works. If you look at a window or the surface of some water using polarising glasses, then they become more transparent – which is why they’re especially good for fishermen. The polariser cuts out reflected light.
Polariser layers used in display solutions are bit more sophisticated than in sunglasses. Light rays actually get “processed” many times on its way in and out of your phones´s screen.
Download the larger image from here.
There’s both a linear polariser and retardation layers between the surface of your phone and the display. When light hits your screen, this is what happens:
- It hits the linear polariser, this vertically polarises the light. (Polarising means – roughly – aligning the wave vibration in a particular direction).
- Then it hits the circular polariser retardation layer. This converts the light again, making it right-circularly polarised.
- Then it hits the screen and bounces off it, switching the rotation of the light to leftist.
- It goes back through the retardation layer. When this happens, the light becomes horizontally polarised.
- Finally, it hits the linear polariser, since the light is horizontally polarised at this point it can be blocked entirely by this optical solution.
So why doesn’t the light from your phone’s display get blocked? Because it only goes through the second half of this journey so the light is unpolarised when it hits the final filter and goes through.
PhoneArena examines the 1000 nits display on the Nokia 701 via an improvised outdoor comparison with the Apple iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S II, about which you can read on: Thousand points of light: the brightest mobile display to date on the Nokia 701 compared[Oct 1, 2011]
More information about this new brightness record is in The technical excellence of the new Symbian range from Nokia [Oct 1, 2011] post on this blog.
Nokia ClearBlack http://www.netbooknews.com The promise of sunlight viewable AMOLEDs has been around for a year now, and if you put on a foil to get rid of the glossy display you actually have a decent shot of using it outdoors. Nokia has actually done something very similar with their ClearBlack Display which is an AMOLED display with a polarized filter on top. The polarizer removes undesired reflections which increases visual contrast to provide vibrant colors and blacker blacks. This enables the ClearBlack Display to be usable in brightly lit conditions.
Information about the Lumia 800 phone used in this comparison see in the Nokia Lumia (Windows Phone 7) value proposition [Oct 26, 2011] post on this blog.
The other phone used for comparison in this video is the HTC Mozart with its so called Super LCD by Sony Mobile Display, a technology which is quite close to the IPS LCD technology. HTC is using the same technology on its latest HTC Titan and Radar phones, as well as on a number of other phones (plus a number of additional ones since the specification HTC’s product site typically says nothing about the type of display like in the case of HTC Mozart).
From http://www.ZOMGitsCJ.com/2011/07/15/ye-giant-samsung-galaxy-s-ii-review/ here’s a quick video comparison of the Super AMOLED Plus Display on the Samsung Galaxy S II vs the [AMOLED]Clearblack CBD display on the Nokia E7.
… To sum it up, the Super AMOLED screen on the SGS2 is pretty darn great, with great image quality, good viewing angles, good sunlight legibility and great energy efficiency. It’d be hard to fault the screen on the SGS2, and apart from Nokia’s [AMOLED] CBD screens, nothing else really comes close to it. …
Here the “classic” ClearBlack, Nokia E7 is used for comparison. The “second generation” AMOLED ClearBlack displays of Nokia N9, Lumia 800 or Nokia 700 perform even better:
What we liked:
- The 3.9 Inch AMOLED ClearBlack curved display is gorgeous. I put it right up next to a Galaxy S2 (which I thought was the benchmark in mobile screen tech) and the N9 beat it in sunlight, and was almost exactly the same quality indoors (even better I’d say). Great viewing angles too.
Other information: Nokia N9 UX [?Swipe?] on MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan [June 24 – Oct 27, 2011]
this new brightness record is in The technical excellence of the new Symbian range from Nokia [Oct 1, 2011] post on this blog.
Details from Nokia
Smartphones have grown up in recent years, going from mainly keyboard based phones to now having the entire front being dominated by large touch screens. We’ve also gone from resistive displays that had to be pressed significantly to register a press to capacitive displays that are much more of a joy to use.
However, we can all agree on one thing: not all displays on touch screen phones are created the same. Here in Oregon, when the sun finally shines in the summer, we constantly battle screen glare that takes a good screen makes it unreadable in bright sunlight. Other complaints include poor colors, greyish-colored blacks and scratches taking away from the touch-screen experience.
Enter the advantages of Nokia’s ClearBlack Display. This awesome feature is proudly featured on the Nokia Lumia 710 and 800, along with the recently released Nokia E7 and C6-01, and the Nokia N9. To me, the exciting part is that the Lumia 710 and 800 are the only Windows Phone devices that feature ClearBlack Displays and this feature will be noticed every time you show your phone off to someone – they’ll notice the vibrancy of the display, whether you’re showing it off outside or inside under bright fluorescent lights, ClearBlack Display looks spectacular, every time.
What’s the story behind the magic of the ClearBlack Display?
What ClearBlack Display provides
Why integrate ClearBack display in these devices? Nokia’s engineers looked at display-related issues and wanted to provide a solution that would yield vibrant colors, blacker blacks and high contrast but which wouldn’t compromise battery life significantly. ClearBlack Display is an innovative solution that solves many of the issues that plague touch screen phone users.
Think about the last time you tried to use your phone outside, whether it was to post something on Facebook or navigate to a nearby location. To adequately see the screen, you likely had to tilt or shield the screen to see text or a map. To get around this, phone manufacturers have tried approaches such as increasing the display brightness, which helps, but also increases power consumption, affecting battery life. Mobile phone users have also bought antiglare screen protectors in an effort to cut down on glare.
ClearBlack Display helps solve this issue while preserving image quality and and keeping blacks as dark as possible. Also, ClearBlack Display phones create an amazing color contrastthat makes your apps, videos and images pop off the screen in a stunning manner.ClearBlack ensures that the blacks you see really are just that — black — which in turn enhances the contrast of the display and makes the whole screen much easier to see. Read more: http://conversations.nokia.com/2010/11/04/so-what-is-clearblack-display/
To help explain how the display works, let’s talk about touch screens themselves. The touch screen on your phone is actually a layered pancake of different elements. The facet that makes ClearBlack Display so effective is where one of the layers, called the polarizer, is placed. The polarizer is a circular layer that is effective at removing undesired reflections. Stamping out reflections means higher visual contrast, resulting in vibrant colors and blacker blacks.
In ClearBlack Display phones, the polarizer is placed between the window and the touch sensor. The goal of this layers is to stack the optical performance with an air-gap solution. By putting the polarizer between the touch and display, engineers can block reflection from the captive sensor grid. To envision this, tilt a traditional touch screen phone in direct sunlight…see the grid of tiny dots? That’s the capacitive sensor grid.
Finally, when placing the polarizer in this position, light is diffused and reflection is minimized, resulting in a clearer display where all icons and colors contrast against one another. To see an example of the difference between a ClearBlack Display device, see the image below. On the left, a Nokia C6-01 with the polarizer is in place and on the right, a prototype C6-01 without ClearBlack Displayshows glare and reflection.
ClearBlack Display and you
The next time you’re outdoors, either looking up a map, showing off the photos from a weekend event or otherwise reading text on your phone, having a Nokia phone with ClearBlack Display will be of huge benefit.
You will no longer have to squint and rotate your phone to read text or see an image because of this revolutionary new display technology from Nokia’s display engineers. Also, you won’t have to reach for your charger as often because of the battery friendliness this solution provides.
Nokia displays have never looked better
In the past, phones were largely measured and compared by a few factors: ease of use, signal strength and the quality of the calls. However, over the years, phones have become smarter and do more, and there are now other components on the phone that are starting to be used to measure their quality. Many of us would probably put the display towards the top of the list. The display’s quality, its brightness, the viewing angle, the ability to be read in all lighting conditions, are all important. So it’s no surprise that one of the big talking points for the new devices launched at Nokia World 2010 was a new technology known as ClearBlack display.
ClearBlack display isn’t a completely new type of display technology like AMOLED. It’s actually a method to reduce reflections on the screen and improve visual image quality, especially outdoors. ClearBlack ensures that the blacks you see really are just that – black – which in turn enhances the contrast of the display and makes the whole screen much easier to see. This will be especially useful for apps like Ovi Maps, which are likely to be used outside. Also, sharing pictures or other items on-screen with others will be a lot easier due to the technology that enables excellent viewing angles.
The effect of the ClearBlack display technology is similar to that produced by a pair of polarising sunglasses. If you look at a body of water on a sunny day without a pair of polarising glasses, it’s really hard to see anything below the surface, but with the glasses on, the reflections are eliminated and you can see underneath the surface. In the same way, without ClearBlack display, you see the reflections on the phone’s screen, but with it you see the image on the screen. However, unlike sunglasses, ClearBlack display improves the vividness of the colors: in fact, because the contrast is higher, they’ll seem more vivid.
Another useful feature of this technology is also that the viewing angle of the device’s display is improved, so sharing pictures or other items on-screen will be a lot easier.
Here’s a picture of the Nokia C6-01 with ClearBlack display, alongside an early prototype of the same device without it:
Effectively, with ClearBlack display your device is able to provide a high quality image in any type of situation, indoors, outdoors, low-light and bright-light. ClearBlack display adjusts the brightness automatically to optimum level depending on the conditions you are in.
Another advantage is that by improving the image quality, and reducing the need to turn up the brightness, you also reduce the energy needed to power the display, and hence reduce the battery drain compared to regular technology, and so your mobile device will last longer between charges. Of the new Symbian^3 phones, the Nokia C6-01, and the Nokia E7 both have the very latest ClearBlack display technology.
The forthcoming Nokia E7 is set to be the new communicator. It’s powered by the new Symbian OS, offers three homescreens and a QWERTY keyboard for super-fast typing. All cased within an anodised aluminium shell and real glass display.
There’s a lot packed into this device. For starters there’s the 4 inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with Clear Black Display technology, which moves over to reveal the 4-row QWERTY keyboard. This makes it perfect for business use, and having Mail for Exchange, Quickoffice dynamic premium, F-Secure anti-theft for mobile and Adobe PDF reader preloaded means you’re able to make the Nokia E7 your own little portable office.
With 16GB of built-in storage and USB On-The-Go, you’ll be able to take as many HD videos as you like using the 8-megapixel camera, edit them using the preloaded video-editing software and watch them back later by plugging the Nokia E7 directly into your TV using the HDMI-out on the phone.
The Nokia E7 also comes with all the usual Ovi services, such as free navigation for life with Ovi Maps, Ovi Store for downloading apps or games and Ovi Music for downloading all your favourite bands.
… This is an amazing phone to hold in your hand. The polycarbonate body is all subtle curves topped with a bright AMOLED ClearBlack display [Nokia 700 also uses AMOLED, ClearBlack technology as well as Nokia N9 although in specifications AMOLED is only indicated and only the Australian N9 launch press release mentiones it] with toughened glass stretching to the sides of the phone. …
… With a 3.5-inch ClearBlack display [the same TFT-LCD ClearBlack display with IPS technology as in the Nokia 701 and in the Lumia 710] under toughened glass to make sure your screen is visible even in bright sunlight, the Nokia 603 is versatile under any circumstances. The screen offers nHD resolution (640 x 360 pixels) and 16 million colours. …
You don’t get to make the brightest touchscreen on the planet without being pretty, er, bright. So I pressed for an interview with Peter Nisula, head of the display and touch development team [more precisely: Senior Manager Display & Touch, Windows Phone Product Engineering at Nokia (since June 2011)] and Osku Sahlsten as Nokia 701 Display and Touch Project Manager [more precisely: Managing display development teams in Nokia. Responsibilities in display development, conceptual work and in technology projects.], to find out how Nokia managed to leave the rest of the world’s phones in the shade.
Creating a phone with the worlds brightest screen is great, but why do it?
In honesty, there’s two answers to this question. The first answer is, well, why not? We’ve got the technology to do it. The second answer is that having a screen that’s super-bright means that when used outdoors, it’s even easier to see what’s displayed on the screen if it’s lit really, really well.
The IPS type LCD with ClearBlack technology makes the bright parts of the display bright and the dark bits, especially the black colours, dark. This combination gives a really clear display for the user.
Doesn’t a super-bright display drain the battery of the phone quicker?
There is no significant impact on the battery life. We have performed studies in order to determine how people will use their phones on a daily basis. How long they spend on gaming, listening to music or even the simplest of tasks such as just standing at a bus stop typing a text message. With the information from studies we are able to decide the optimized settings for phone. All these things are considered when we make a phone.
Although the screen of the Nokia 701 is the brightest screen on a smartphone, it’s not always cranked up to the highest level of luminance. As with most Nokia smartphones, there’s a built in ALS (ambient light sensor) that senses the light in the environment and adjusts the screen accordingly. If it’s dark, the phone turns down the screen brightness and the opposite happens if you’re in a really bright place.
How bright is this exactly?
The brightness – or luminance – is measured in what’s called nitsand the Nokia 701 screen has 1000 of them.
1000 nits huh? So, what does that mean? In real-life terms?
Well, think of it this way. 1000 nits is equivalent 3145 lux. Sunlight on an average day ranges from 32,000 to 100,000 lux, TV studios are lit at about 1000 lux and moonlight measures at 1 lux. So, it’s clearly not as bright as daylight but much brighter than moonlight. However it’s three times brighter than a TV studiomaking it very bright.
Oh, and the max brightness of the Nokia 701 is more than double higher than the iPad, if that’s a good example?
Is this really the brightest smartphone screen to date? What do other phones measure up to?
We work with the major display manufacturers in the world and we know competition around, so we know the situation really well. We can bravely say this is the most brightest smartphone screen in the world.
Are there plans to introduce IPS type LCD screens to every Nokia smartphone?
IPS type LCD as a technology is giving certain advantages without doubts, but we need to see what technologies will be introduced to Nokia smartphones in the future. Of course, we’d love to have IPS type LCDs on all future Nokia smartphones. But we don’t know if that’s going to happen. We hope it will.
If you’re still confused about some of the terminology used – and to be honest, it baffles us slightly, too – we’ve written a separate piece that explains all when it comes to nits and lux.
Would you like a smartphone with the worlds brightest screen? Let us know your thoughts, in the comments below.
Image credit: chadmiller