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Screen Comparison: Samsung Focus S and HTC Titan

Samsung Focus S and HTC Titan

So we put up the review on the AT&T HTC Titan and received a few comments asking for more thoughts on comparing the screen quality between the Titan and the Samsung Focus S. Something more than just a comparison of the Start Screen. We'll keep the auto-brightness issue on the Focus S and the graphics lag on the Titan out of the conversation because they are secondary issues to screen quality.

Two issues were mentioned dealing with the Titan's screen; pixelation (or is it pixilation?) and jaggedness with fonts when viewing web pages or documents.  Neither Dan nor I have experienced any issues of the sort with the Titan.  So we took a look at both screens running a music video, still images, web pages, documents and the game Lets Golf 2.  Both screens performed well but we'll stick with our initial thought that the Titan's screen has an edge over the Focus S screen.

More after the break.

No Pixelation

Let me say from the get-go that both the Samsung Focus S and HTC Titan have respectable screens. If screen quality is your sole measure between these two phones, neither is a bad choice. The Super AMOLED Plus does have blacker blacks but we're also seeing a slight blue tint when the screen is predominantly white. With the Titan, I think it has equal or better contrast and the brightness is more evenly distributed. Both phones perform equally as nice outdoors.

As far as pixelation is concerned on the Titan, we just don't see it. It wasn't present when viewing pictures, videos, games, web pages or documents.  It's just not there.  There is some thought that pixelation is inevitable due to "stretching" a 480x800 screen to 4.7". The screen may have fewer pixels per inch but you also have larger pixels from the start. 

Pixels and Pixels

The Titan has 198.5 Pixels Per Inch and a Dot Pitch of .128mm. The Samsung Focus S has a PPI of 216.97 and a Dot Pitch of .1171mm. Just for comparison sakes, the 3.7" screen of the Samsung Focus Flash has a PPI of 252.15 and a Dot Pitch of .1007mm.    There's no stretching involved on the Titan.  It's just larger pixels and the lower PPI with larger dot pitch doesn't affect the user experience at all.

All in all, we just don't see any clear cut advantage to the Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus screen when compared to the Titan's. While the Focus S has a respectable screen in its own right, taking everything into consideration, we feel the Titan's screen quality wins out by a nose.  The great thing about it all is that if your eye sees things different, you still have a nice screen in front of you.

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Comments

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lowkontrast says:

It's kind of hard to believe that a standard LCD display is better than an AMOLED, as I've owned both the Focus and Venue Pro. Hell, even the standard OLED on my Zune HD has beat every LCD I've seen. Guess I'll see when my Titan comes in the mail. ^^

Narr says:

The Titan has a Super LCD screen, not standard LCD.
 

if the screen on Focus S is like on Galaxy S2 and the Titan as on Sensation XL then I must say the Focus S just simply blows away the competition in this regard. This isnt something you see on a youtube video. You need to have it in your hands to really see how unbelievable SAMOLED+ is

Arvydasg.93 says:

Agree. HTC Titan screen is nothing compared to Samsung Omnia 7. I have Omnia 7 and use it as my main phone and had Titan for few days. All I can say, Titan screen needs some time to get used to. Colours are more washed out and etc.

incendy says:

I would actually argue that the colors are more natural on the Titan and over saturated on the Omnia 7. I have never liked the colors on any of sumsung's amoled screens.

markiz says:

i on the other hand never understood why people say that.
One look at how the BLACK looks on amoled was enough for me to deicide never to go back to LCD, no matter how super it may be.

It's complete shite compared to the Titan screen. Not a single redeeming quality over it than the Titan's screen.

Not one.

Better battery life? Nope. Nicer whites? Far from it. More realistic looking? Definitely not.

The Focus S gets my "biggest dissapointment of the year" award for screen. It's just not good at all and the Titan's looks much better. I use both every day and stick by this opinion.

DaHui623 says:

The first thing I did when I got my Focus S was turn off that annoying auto brightness setting. This screen is simply gorgeous.

Verkunder says:

The Focus S screen is nice, no doubt, but the over saturation of the colors killed it for me. It's super bright, the colors pop, and the blacks are just blacker than darkness. That being said, the whole screen had a blueish tint to it.
The Titan, on the other hand, has more natural looking colors. The blacks aren't as deep as the Focus, but the whites are much, much better. The only real "jaggies" I've seen are on my Xbox Avatar, but I'm not there often enough to really care.

cdodgela says:

Can't wait to get my Titan next week, it's a beast!  Ordered it for $.01 from AT&T last night, actual cost with tax etc. ended up a little under $30 for my upgrade! 
You have no idea how hard it has been to wait since Nov 20th, when it first became available, just to save $200...  Patience is a virtue!

civillion says:

i have an HTC Titan and a samsung omnia 7(wich also has a super amoled screen)
and i have to agree with this comparison. the blacks on super amoled are terrific but the whites are not white and not as bright as on the htc titan.
htc has:higher brightness, more real looking colors, equal contrast(compared with omnia 7),real whites.
omnia 7 has: best blacks i've ever seen(in real life:P), colorbanding(this is bad), very saturated colors(some might call it oversaturated but i don't have a problem with that) and the white's really are blue'ish(especially when put next to the titan)
on sharpness they are equal.
when i first saw super amoled i was amazed and thought that lcd would have been dead by now,but the super LCD on the titan is no regular LCD. its brighter than most screens(not just phones,some lcd tv's and desktop monitors two)
i think its a matter of taste wich screen you'd like better but the super LCD on the titan aint no slouch and in overpowers the super amoled in areas.
 

snowmutt says:

As I am getting an "S" and my wife is getting the Titan, I will be glad to post some user reviews over the next few weeks comparing the two.  I will say we spent over an hour playing with both devices, and the "S" just is an amazing screen that still sets the standard.  I am not sure about this "blue tint" that a lot of people say is present.  To me, the colors are reproduced vividly and just explode off the display as you load up the screen.  I was impressed with the Titan as well, and there are plenty of advantages to owning it.  But I am just not sure how you pick it over the "S" for screen qualitity. 
 
I got my "S" and my Wife's Titan at 12:30 in the AM on Saturday, November 26 for the painful on contract price of .02 cents, a savings of $399.96 dollars off the normal contract prices, and an amazing $1,099.96 off the non-contract prices.  Ahhhh .... the best of both worlds!!!  :-D

mythos13 says:

Looking forward to your thoughts on the devices. I hope you're neutral :)

MaulerX says:

What about the "Ghosting" on the Titan? I just played with one at the store (love it, ordered one for a penny online) but noticed right away the ghosting when fast scrolling on the home screen. It just has that slight blurry look to it when you flick real fast up or down, whereas on the Focus S it maintains that crispness. I'm I the only one that has noticed this?

jalb says:

I am very grateful for this article.  It has been really frustrating reading reviews out there about the Titan and almost every one of them postulating that there is "probably pixelation" due to the size and resolution, but never stating unequivocally that they actually see it in action.  It's like a ton of reviewers just assumed that it HAD to be pixelated since the size was increased but not the resolution, and then of course half the other reviews are probably just based on other reviews instead of actually having hands on experience.  They call that an echo chamber, right? 

We made sure we focused on that because it's important. I too get asked about pixelation all the time and it's just not there with the Titan. It's a strawman argument from those who never used it or looked hard enough.

Fray26 says:

The screen on the Focus S is much better than the Titan. Its smoother and it looks sharper than the Titan. I have used it 2 days ago and spend exactly 5 mins with both phones. They both good phones but Focus S is a better choice. If is screen quality u care about then go for Focus S.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but for photo rendition, the Focus S is unrealistic looking and the bluish tint is distracting.

George and I own both phones and have used them extensively (read: much more than 5 mins) and we both agree the Titan's screen looks better. That's an interesting consensus amongst the staff here.

PhilR8 says:

My GF has the Epic 4G Touch, so I've already had a lot of experience with Super AMOLED+ screens... and they're fantastic.  But I went to an AT&T store yesterday and played with both the Titan and the Focus S - they were side-by-side on the display wall - to see how the Titan would compare.
 
Honestly, the super-saturated colors of the Focus S make a direct comparison very hard.  The Titan's screen looks slightly inferior when you put the two devices side-by-side.  However, when you open up the Pictures hub and compare pictures side-by-side, the Titan does a much better job at displaying colors naturally.  That's not to say photos looked bad on the Focus S's screen - just oversaturated.  Which is what we've come to expect with Samsung's Super AMOLED+ screens.
 
So in terms of pure eye candy, the Focus S gets the nod here, even if it's only by a slim margin.  However, holding both of these devices in your hand tells an entirely different story - a story that the Titan wins hands-down.  So Focus S = slightly better screen, but Titan = much more solid feel.  That's why I'm getting a Titan.

markiz says:

I don't get this whole articel. They keep saying how it does not matter, because the pixels size does not affect sharpness. Does that mean if pixels were 5cm in size and you looked at them from 30cm distance, that the picture would also be crisp?

That's a hella of an exaggeration. What we are saying is given the two phones at their current specs, pixels aren't relevant. From a user perspective, you don't notice any degradation in sharpness.

Two put it another way: I have both phones and I always, always, always choose the Titan over the Focus S. My hunch is George does too.

markiz says:

I know it's exagaration, but as someone who reads a lot of eboks on my phone, i do notice these kinds of differences.
I guess for pictures and video viewing it's not that important, but when it's all txt, you can't say it's non-existant. You can say it's small.

At the end of the day, people who have not held both in their hands can't vouch for which is better and which is not. Go to a store and do screen comparisons. That's what I did. They usually have the Titan and the Focus right next to eachother.

My verdict was that both screens did have their advantages and their disadvantages. I did like the Titan better, just barely, because of the said blueish tint of the amoled screen. But yes, the Titan screen is a little washed out.

I would say the major differences between the two that I saw and annoyed me was the lag on the Titan screen (which is really obvious because of it's huge size) and the whites and lighter colors on the Focus S.
This was hugely apparent when I played the same video at the same time when I was at the store. The store rep at att chuckled and asked "You're comparing the screens?" I replied "Yeah". She asked "which one do you like better?" and I said "It's hard to tell, sometimes the colors are better in this one, but when the scene changes the colors are better on the other". The store representative agreed and she said something that made complete sense. "Yeah, sometimes I just wish they could meet in the middle with this OLED screens and LCD screens"

After she said that, things started to make sense. The difference between Super Amorphous Light Emitting Doid Plus and Super Liquid Crystal Display is that they need to meet around the middle. The perfect example in my opinion? The best screen that I ever used was the Zune HD standard OLED screen. A normal OLED screen is not as oversaturated and blueish as the SAMOLED+. If the Titan had a standard OLED, I'd totaly get it in a heartbeat.

Dell venue pro has a regular OLED screen and its also has a blue tint. On Galaxy S2 you have the option to set the saturation, Samsung should have given this on the Focus S too.

I realize that this is an article about screen quality specifically, but a major concern that factors in for me is battery life. The reason for the truer blacks on the SAMOLED is be cause those pixels aren't drawing any power. While I haven't read anything to substantiate, I believe this is the reason the Galaxy S2 has the best battery life on the smartphone market. Therefore if I'm choosing between two excellent screens I'm going with the one I get to enjoy for longer between charges. Focus S FTW!

Battery life on the Focus S, considering the SAMOLED+, is disappointing. I see no advantage with it in this regard, which is funny since the Titan's screen is so much larger.

gravage says:

Unless you have a bad unit, I'm not sure how you come up with "disappointing". I have the Focus S and I always go home with around 70-75% battery at the end of the day. It beats my iPhone 4s and has better battery life than most of the phones I have owned.
While I haven't used a Titan for comparison, I have never been disappointed by the Focus S with regards to battery life.

its a trade off. if you have an all white screen, an AMOLED screen will consume nearly 3 times as much power compared to LCD

Also please forgive for bringing up an Android device on a WP7 site... :)

Daegalus says:

I spent some time comparing the 2 at the store. While SAMOLED+ on the Samsung Focus S was gorgeous on blacks, on anything else it had a blue tint. A way of checking is I found some white wall and white pamphlets, turned on the camera, and compared the colors of the screen on the white. the SLCD on the Titan had realistic colors, while the SAMOLED had a bluish Tint going on.
 
At first I was skeptical and thought it might be the camera or something a defective device. I pulled out my Focus from my pocket and did the same comparison. My focus has the same bluish tint that I never knew about.
 
I then found some white pictures on the internet, again bluish tint.
 
When I finally got home to google the issue I found that all Samsung SAMOLED screens have a bluish tint due to the oversaturation. It is how they are able to also achieve pure blacks.
 
In the end I prefer real colors over pure blacks and the Titan blacks were pretty damn close to teh SAMOLED, so I gave the Titan a win, and it is what I will be getting next month when my contract is up for renewal.

sfleuriet says:

I just returned my Focus S and ordered the Titan for 1 penny. I have still yet to see a HTC Titan handset in person (can't find one in a store), so I'll have to wait for it to come in.

Finchee says:

Thank you for this comparison George, I appreciate it!

lerimer says:

I just got two titans yesterday from my local Microsoft store and I havnt seen any mayor issues with pixels yet. The only time I ran into some pixelation was when I played Orbital and got a real small orb, the numbers inside seemed kinda blurry, but other than that I have nothing bad to say, I love the device!!!!

mythos13 says:

Well after hearing from Daniel, Jay and George and the consensus on here it is obvious the Titan is a clear winner. I think I'll wait until CES then decide which one I'll get--for now the Titan has front runner status.

kevm14 says:

Here's a thought: the people who prefer the Focus S screen probably also have their TV set to Vivid because "the colors pop better."  That's not to say this preference is wrong...wait, yeah, it's wrong.  Of course, I need to frame this properly: my desktop display is a 21" calibrated Trinitron, so I have no tolerance for inaccurate displays of ANY type.  In industry, people pay big bucks for *accuracy.*

Dark_Halmut says:

I can see a quality difference althought it could be from the video recording. There is a diagonal line texture to solid colors (ie in any tile on the wp7 home screen) which is much more apparent on the Titan. It becomes even more apparent when you zoom in on the pictures. Contrast is also better because of this on the Focus S and will be because the blacks are blacker.
 
Definitly see the blue color on the SuperAmoLED. There regular Focus has that at times also.
 
You could use a standard measurement for these things by opening the devices to lcd adjustment pics such as those found here: http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/
 
Something else people should be aware of, now that the Focus(original) has been out a year. For heavy users, be aware that OLED can suffer from burn in (What? I know!) so dont run on high brightness all the time and dont have your timeout set to 5 minutes at the same time. You'll get the imprints of your live tiles burned and will show on all white screens. This to me is a big win for the Super LCD for heavy users (hours a day).

terryda says:

Mehh.. I'm not really seeing much of a bluish tint.  I see that it is darker, but it would probably also help if he turned off the Auto Display in extra settings.  You can see his screen adjusting when scrolling, so it's definitely on. It makes whites...not as white to save battery life. Off angle, I can see the blue reflection of some kind of anti-reflective material. I'm kind of getting tired of seeing "New" LCD technology. You can pack all the pixels you want in there and use whatever backlight you want. There will always be lag and off angle viewing issues. Its just the physics of LCDs.