Don’t put your iPad 3 next to an AMOLED device

ipad grayscale - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

I’ve expressed my opinions on the iPad screen before, and Aaron’s recent point shows my point in pictures. That was AMOLED vs a Kindle Fire though, and the iPad 3’s display is said to have both better colors than many other LCD screens, and it has that ridiculous resolution. I finally had a chance to play with an iPad 3 and see for myself though, and well, don’t put your iPad 3 next to an AMOLED.

You see, that’s what I did. iPad 3 meets the Galaxy S II, a year-old phone at this point. The contestants are a 9.7-inch, 1536 x 2048, 264PPI LCD screen versus a 4.3-inch, 480 x 800, 217 PPI AMOLED screen. I tested with a few different things that I could put on both devices at the same time, and I would pick the phone to display anything where colors have a say. Yes, the iPad 3 screen is beautiful. It’s color accurate, details are wonderful, and anything you display on it that can actually use the resolution will look beautiful: remote PC apps, text, web browsing, etc. And still, when you put it down besides an AMOLED screen, the color difference is so striking that you start looking for a setting that says “turn off grayscale mode” on the iPad. It’s simply one of those situations where something is perfect until you have a point of comparison.

Of course the beauty of AMOLED is subjective. Top of the line LCD is color accurate to real life, while AMOLED makes things look like they came out of the move Avatar. A photo of leaves on LCD makes them look like normal leaves, on AMOLED it looks like something out of the Amazon jungle or something like that. A light blue sky becomes so saturated that it can make an image look like it’s HDR. This freaked me out when I first got my S II, and it took a while until I really got used to it. Now that I have however, I’m not going back.

There will always be people who prefer the more accurate color representation, and I fully understand that. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, and for a lot of professional uses (like professional photography and image editing) that is even essential. I’m a consumer though, and I just want to have a screen that I personally like. The same way that equalizers and sound enhancements give personal touch to neutral audio, AMOLED gives a varmer, more vivid touch to imagery.

In my experience though, AMOLED is liked by a lot of people. I dare even say the majority of people who have actually used both. I’ve had iPhone 4(S) owners see my lower DPI, lower resolution S II screen and actually be jealous despite that, so AMOLED definitely isn’t niche as far as preferences go. To me, it’s rather definitive when I put an S II beside an iPad 3 and would rather view photos on the former, which is why the iPad 3 doesn’t hold much interest for me while the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Toshiba Excite 7.7 do. The iPad 3 screen is definitely an upgrade over the iPad 2 screen, and puts most LCD screens out there to shame. If you like the way AMOLED looks though, all the iPad 3 is ever going to be is a device that scores high in the wrong category.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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