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Samsung S21, Pixel 5 & iPhone 12: Which one has the Best Screen

January 12, 2021

The smartphone market is competitive like never before. There are so many aspects to consider when choosing their next device based on one's needs, and people definitely have vast options nowadays. Of course, everybody dreams of getting their hands on the latest flagship phones, but not everyone can afford them. The most popular models right now are Apple’s iPhone 12, Google’s Pixel 5, and highly anticipated Samsung’s Galaxy S21, which is to be announced on January 14, 2021.

For all of those who want to have the best screen on their smartphones, we will compare the screen quality of these three models In further text.

Google Pixel 5

The Google Pixel 5 has a 6-inch screen with Full HD+ (2K) resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. It is still a fantastic screen, although far away from some other high-end smartphones, especially in terms of brightness. Historically, Google Pixels have always had an endemic evil: the maximum brightness level. Well, this generation has solved the problem, partially at least. The maximum brightness of the Pixel 5 is more than enough to view content in the sun, but there are problems in the first few days: the mobile constantly forces to manually increase the brightness when indoors, since the automatic brightness was very low.

That is, the maximum brightness is good, but from 60% down it was somewhat insufficient even for indoors. Luckily, the adaptive brightness function of the Pixel 5 works very well, since the smartphone learns from the manual corrections you make on the automatic brightness. That is, if the mobile sets the brightness low indoors and you always turn it up, it will learn that you prefer to have it that high. Specifically, after three days, the automatic brightness changes completely, adapting to users’ preferences.

At the level of viewing angles, purity of white and sharpness, the Pixel 5's panel is more than correct, closer to the high-end than the mid-range. The color rendering is fine as well, perhaps with a bit of oversaturation. We have three modes to calibrate the screen to taste: natural, enhanced, and adaptive, ranging from low to high saturation.

The refresh rate in this Pixel is 90Hz, it is not the highest in the market, but in a mobile with a Snapdragon 765G, it is quite balanced. The 90Hz is activated every time we touch the screen, and turned off when about 3 seconds pass since we had stopped touching it. It will not be necessary to force 90Hz from the development options, since they are activated and deactivated just when necessary.

In this new generation, the 'Ambient EQ' is lost. This was a very interesting feature of the Pixel 4, which emulated Apple's 'True Tone' to adapt the screen to the environment. Despite this, if we want to take care of our eyesight, we can always program the Night Shift, so that the panel becomes warmer when night begins to fall.

Apple iPhone 12

The great evolutionary leap of this generation – the iPhone 12, is found on the screen, especially for those who are upgrading from an LCD panel.

The new OLED Super Retina XDR screen certainly raises the level and clearly separates it from the previous version 11, which was somewhat limited in comparison with the Pro model. The OLED panel on the new iPhone 12 looks great both indoors and outdoors. There is a lot of brightness to offer a satisfying experience when the light is bright, although it is not the best in this regard that we have encountered this year.

This screen is also quite enjoyable when using multimedia content as it includes HDR 10 support and its density above 450 dpi is appreciated. The possibilities of personalizing the experience with the screen are far from those that we can find in high-end Android terminals. It plays in your favor that the panel is superbly calibrated at the factory, but leaving a little more margin beyond being able to choose whether to have True Tone active or not is always welcome.

The unforgivable absence that iPhone 12 has left behind is the possibility of a screen refresh rate that is higher than the previous standard of 60Hz. Here Apple is behind the competition, but the experience with panels at 90 or 120Hz of this last year has pleased us so much so that it is now a value that we do not want to give up. The iPhone 12 screen now has an OLED panel and higher resolution, but a refresh rate higher than 60Hz is left behind.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series

One of the most striking aspects of the new Galaxy S21 is that both the standard model and the plus would opt for Full HD + screens (2K resolution). These have lower resolution than the QHD + screens (4K) that we find in the previous series with the standard and plus models of the Galaxy S20, which is a slight step back from a technical point of view.

This will preserve battery life, yes, but the fans have expected more from these flagship models. The Ultra model, on the other hand, will have a panel with QHD + resolution. The screen of the base S21 will appear to be flat, so at the size level, it would be like that of its direct predecessor.

And yes, all the Galaxy S21s will have the AMOLED technology and a refresh rate of 120Hz, a feature that was expected to be present in all high-end models, but as we could have seen, only Samsung has this feature still, at least in comparison with Google and iPhone. There are manufacturers like Vivo, ASUS, Lenovo, and Huawei that have implemented the 144Hz screens even! Nevertheless, the 120Hz makes any animation feel more fluid, improving the experience of using the phone.

The difference between the three phones will be visible in the screen size as well. The Galaxy S21 has a 6.2-inch FullHD + Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED display while the Plus model will have a larger 6.7-inch panel of the same resolution. The Galaxy S21 Ultra will boast a 6.9-inched screen in 4K resolution. All three devices have a protective Gorilla Glass Victus, but further protection is recommended. There are lots of screen protectors being made right now for these models, and currently, the i-Blade protection for the S21 series stands out dramatically. Check out some quality products here.