The all new iPhone 5 packs a lot of new features and improvements in design in order to compete against its rivals. The iPhone 5 is the thinnest iPhone yet, at just 7.6mm in depth and weighs just 112 grams. Apple has also done away with the glass on the new iPhone’s display and has instead integrated the touch sensors into the display itself – making for a display that, at just 1.5mm thick, gives you better image quality. However, a new report by IHS iSuppli Display Materials and Systems Service states that in spite of the improvements, the iPhone 5’s display still cannot match the thinness of arch rival Samsung’s flagship the Galaxy S III’s display.

The addition of in-cell touch technology has improved the display of the iPhone 5, but it still lags the Galaxy S III when it comes to screen thinness and colour gamut. The report states that while the iPhone 5’s display is just 1.5mm thick, a 0.6-mm reduction from the iPhone 4S’ 2.1mm thick screen, and the colour gamut of the iPhone 5 has risen to 72 percent of the NTSC standard, compared to 50 percent for the 4S,  it still doesn’t catch up to the Galaxy S III. Samsung’s flagship has a display that’s a mere 1.1mm thick with a colour gamut that is full 100 percent NTSC compliant.

Hitting international stores this month itself

The iPhone 5's display looks good, but is fatter than the SIII's.

“As the first product with in-cell touch, the iPhone 5 represents a major achievement, improving the image quality and reducing the thickness of the smartphone compared to previous models,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, director for Small & Medium Displays at IHS. “And although the iPhone 5 still trails the Galaxy S III in the display specs race, the iPhone 5 overall remains thinner than the Galaxy S III, and its display colour gamut is more than sufficient for most users.”

In-cell technology eliminates the standalone touch panel layers used in most smartphones and instead integrates the touch sensors into the liquid crystal of the liquid crystal display (LCD) stack, sharing common electrodes and transistors. The technology can reduce display module thickness by about 0.5mm on average, reducing total smartphone thickness.

However, while the display is thicker than that of the Samsung Galaxy III, the iPhone 5 as a whole is 1mm thinner than the Galaxy S III, which measures 8.6mm. The Galaxy S III’s greater girth is due to other factors, most likely the thickness of the battery.

Beyond thinning the display, in-cell’s elimination of the separate touch overlay layer allows more light to emit from the display without the intrusion of added refraction and glare of the additional touch layers. This helps the new display to enjoy a more vibrant and crisper image with improved colour saturation than the iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 5’s display still falls short of the NTSC colour gamut mark achieved by the Galaxy III. However, from a user’s perspective, the lower colour gamut measurement may not necessarily make the iPhone 5 display look worse than the Galaxy III. More accurate and realistic representation of image colour and contrasts may be a result of better calibration, higher brightness and superior power efficiency of the display.

The Galaxy III employs an active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) display, in contrast to the low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) LCD employed in the iPhone 5. As AMOLEDs don’t use a backlight unit, they potentially have better power efficiency than LCDs. However, there are concerns about differential aging of organic materials, which affects OLED lifetime and power efficiency. And although display power consumption is important, overall battery life of the device will still be dependent on many other factors.

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