A poor display on a smartphone is like a car with a bad steering wheel or a heart surgeon with Parkinson's. Unlike mobile phones of yesteryears, the display in today’s phone is your primary point of interaction and getting things done. And if it’s not up to the mark, you’re left with a very frustrating experience. This is the same issue we faced with the first batch of budget touchscreen phones with resistive displays; even some of today’s lower-end offerings don’t offer you a hassle-free experience, despite having switched to capacitive screens.

HD displays seem to be the order of 2013 and everyone’s onboard, including up and comers like Micromax. Simply having an HD resolution doesn’t always guarantee that the display will be good, since it all comes down to the type of panel used and how sensitive it is to touch. Another important aspect is how well a display is able to cope under sunlight. You’re going to be using your phone as much outside as you will indoors, so it’s important that the display is legible even in bright daylight. After going through our long list of smartphones that we’ve reviewed recently, we’ve come up with a list of “Top 5 smartphones” with a display that really shines bright.

Apple iPhone 5
The iPhone’s Retina display has always been the one to beat ever since it was introduced two generations back. The current display on the iPhone 5 may not technically be HD (i.e. 1280 x 720), but since it surpasses the 320 ppi mark, we are going to allow it. The LED backlit IPS display has really good viewing angles and very accurate colour reproduction. The display is also bright enough to be easily used in sunlight without hampering usability much.

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The Retina legacy continues

Here are some of the specifications of the iPhone 5:

  • 4.0-inch IPS LCD display, with a 640 x 1136 pixel resolution
  • 3G, Wi-Fi (dual-band)
  • GPS with AGPS and GLONASS support
  • Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP
  • 8MP rear camera with a 1.2MP front facing camera
  • 16/32/64GB storage

LG Optimus G
The Optimus G easily has one of the best displays we’ve seen in a long time. As soon as you power it on, you’ll notice the difference in clarity and colour accuracy as compared to other smartphones. All this is possible thanks to LG’s in-house developed True HD IPS Plus display with what it calls “Zerogap touch”. This tempered glass design reduces the number of layers between the protective glass (Gorilla Glass 2 in this case) and the display itself, which in turn reduces reflections, offers better sensitivity along with better colours and brightness.

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Very sharp and vivid

Here are some of the specifications of the Optimus G:

  • 4.7-inch True HD-IPS+ display, with a 768 x 1280 pixel resolution
  • 3G, Wi-Fi (dual-band), NFC
  • GPS with AGPS and GLONASS support
  • Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP
  • 13MP rear camera with a 1.3MP front facing camera
  • 32GB storage

Micromax A116 Canvas HD
Micromax has proven that good displays need not be restricted to the upmarket phones alone. We’ve seen many budget HD displays, but the Canvas HD is easily one of the best we’ve come across. Text and images appear sharp and the viewing angles are very good as well. The brightness level is also very adequate, which makes it easy to view even under bright sunlight. Apart from looking good, the IPS panel also has very good sensitivity, so it doesn’t take too much effort to use.

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One of the best in the budget arena

Here are some of the specifications of the Canvas HD:

  • 5-inch IPS display, with a 720 x 1280 pixel resolution
  • 3G, Wi-Fi
  • GPS with AGPS
  • Bluetooth with A2DP
  • 8MP rear camera with a 2MP front facing camera
  • 4GB storage, expandable up to 32GB

HTC Butterfly X920d
The HTC Butterfly has one of the best full HD displays in the market today and also happens to be India’s very first phone to sport such a high resolution. But it hasn’t made the list just because of the high pixel count; the Super LCD3 on the Butterfly lives up to its name. “Vibrant” is possibly the best way to sum up the screen. Colours are punchy, especially reds, which makes photo and video viewing a real treat. Anything and everything looks really good, including SD content. Sunlight legibility is very good and the screen’s also highly sensitive to touch.

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More pixels are never a bad thing

Here are some of the specifications of the HTC Butterfly:

  • 5-inch IPS display, with a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution
  • 3G, Wi-Fi (dual-band)
  • GPS with AGPS and GLONASS support
  • Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP
  • 8MP rear camera with a 2.1MP front facing camera
  • 16GB storage, expandable up to 32GB

Nokia Lumia 920
Apart from the PureView camera, Nokia must be commended on the display used in the Lumia 920. Its new PureMotion HD+ display is highly sensitive. So sensitive, in fact, that you can easily use it with gloves as well. It’s also very bright, which makes for very good sunlight legibility and produces vivid and crisp images and text.

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The ClearBlack IPS panel really stands out

Here are some of the specifications of the Lumia 920:

  • 4.5-inch IPS display, with a 768 x 1280 pixel resolution
  • 3G, Wi-Fi (dual-band)
  • GPS with AGPS and GLONASS support
  • Bluetooth v3.1 with A2DP
  • 8MP rear camera with a 1.3MP front facing camera
  • 32GB storage

So this is our list of the top 5 smartphones that we feel have some of the best displays around. Some noteworthy mentions also include the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Xperia go and the LG Nexus 4. We would like to know what would make it in your list of top 5 HD smartphone displays.

Cover image courtesy: Getty Images

Publish date: March 30, 2013 4:25 pm| Modified date: December 19, 2013 10:42 am

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