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Pixel 6, Samsung S23 & iPhone 13: Which one has the Best Screen

September 13, 2022

The highly competitive market requires the best of the best, and when it comes to smartphone manufacturers, three names come to mind when it comes to top-quality – Samsung, Google, and Apple. And soon, we will see the new series from Samsung, the S23 series, which will arguably be the best series of them all.

But how good will the displays be? Let’s compare the current iPhone 13 and Pixel 6 with the upcoming S23.


iPhone 13

Unfortunately, Apple made a big distinction between the two classes when it comes to displays: while the Pro models got Super Retina XDR screens with Pro Motion technology, the regular models didn't. The result of this is that the screens on the iPhone 13 Pro have finally caught up with the Android competition and that it is one of the absolute best screens on the smartphone market today. The resolution is not increased, but the brightness is, which goes up to 1200 nits, and is constantly at 1000 nits, which means that it is very, very bright. The color reproduction is practically perfect, the screen is identical from all angles, and even blacks on these OLED panels are superb.

But the biggest gain is in the aforementioned Pro Motion technology: it means that Apple has finally marketed screens with an image refresh rate of up to 120 Hz (remember once again that this brings dramatically smoother operation and image display, because the display is refreshed 120 times per second, instead of the standard 60 times per second at 60 Hz). More precisely, the iPhone 13 Pro has a variable screen refresh rate of 10 to 120 Hz, which means that the speed is adjusted depending on what is currently displayed on the screen, in order to save battery. Paired with really great stereo speakers, enjoying multimedia on the iPhone 13 Pro is truly a pleasure.

The screens on the 13 and 13 Mini, unfortunately, remained at 60 Hz, which still doesn't mean they're bad, but it's quite disappointing and a little cynical of Apple that screens in this price range don't have that feature. These are the same panels that were installed on last year's Pro models, which means that they are Super Retina XDR OLED screens with HDR10 and Dolby Vision technologies, which are among the best 60-hertz screens available, but unfortunately, should no longer be the standard today.

Google Pixel 6

With a 6.4-inch OLED screen, the Google Pixel 6 has the largest screen ever on a Pixel phone, with the exception of the 6.7-inch Pixel 6 Pro, which even surpasses the 6.3-inch Google Pixel 4 XL from 2019.

Google has equipped its latest phones with the biggest screens ever, and the Pixel 6 comes with a Full HD+ Plus resolution of 2400 x 1080 (so not QHD) which is 441 pixels per inch. That's roughly on par with other phones at its price point (and even some pricier options like the Samsung Galaxy S21).

There is also a high brightness mode, a contrast ratio of >1,000,000:1, and HDR support. The big update to the Pixel 6's display is its size, but it's also nice to have a higher refresh rate, as seen on its predecessor.

It's a 90Hz display, which should make it easier to navigate the UI and browse websites. The 90Hz displays are more common on smartphones today; The Pixel 6 Pro has a 120Hz display, as do the Galaxy S22 and several other flagships, but the Pixel 6's price is lower than many of its 120Hz rivals, and 90Hz is likely enough for most users.

The Pixel 6 Pro uses an LPTO matrix similar to the one Samsung put in the S21 Ultra, although there are several differences, each of which dramatically changes the perception of the device. For starters, the S21 Ultra has an extra layer for the S Pen, which in the absence of technology is not needed for the Pixel. Apart from that, both smartphones seem to have similar specifications, similar dpi density, and brightness up to 1100-1200 nits.

The Pixel has historically always kept the brightness low, which is inconvenient in many situations. This approach is preserved in this device as well, the brightness always decreases. Turning the brightness manually will give you a maximum of 550 nits. In adaptive mode, it goes up to 750 nits. In some cases, a brightness of 1100 nits is achieved in the sun. But there is one important point - the Pixel does not know how to work for a long time in direct sunlight at maximum brightness, as after 5 minutes it will decrease to 450 nits. This is done due to the fact that the screen consumes the battery more than it should, and the body of the phone heats up noticeably. Interestingly, the S21 Ultra consumes about 1.5 times less battery power at the same brightness level.

Samsung S23

Moving on to the subject of the Samsung Galaxy S23 screen, we find that it would still have a 6.1-inch diagonal with a 120 Hz refresh rate and a Full HD+ resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (20:9). It would also be Dynamic AMOLED technology, like that of the S22, and would be equipped with an ultrasonic fingerprint reader for biometric unlocking.

By all standards, an excellent screen, and it is well readable in all conditions, including the sun. The 120Hz mode is great - the animation is smooth, both in the interface and in most applications. Screen settings are typical of Samsung's flagship model, and there are plenty of them for those who want to customize the device to themselves and their preferences.

AoD mode is also nice, you see notifications on the lock screen, and you can quickly switch to them.

Traditionally, there is a blue color filter, and a dark theme, including the ability to set a schedule. Adjustable screen brightness adjusts to your preferences. In manual mode you can adjust the brightness up to 550 nits, in automatic mode, it reaches 1500 nits.

So which display wins?

When it comes to regular models, here are our verdicts:

- iPhone 13: Fantastic image quality, very low refresh rate.

- Pixel 6: Very good image quality, average refresh rate.

- S23: Fantastic image quality, very high refresh rate.

All in all, the S23 will have the best display of the three but bear in mind that both Google and Apple are to present their new series of phones soon, and it will be interesting to see which phone will come on top then.