Smartphones with killer screens (roundup)

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but everyone can agree that these smartphones have the most stunning displays around.


Editors' Note: This post was originally published September 25, 2012, and is updated frequently.

In addition to all the times we casually glance at our smartphones throughout the day, studies estimate that we spend more than an hour everyday staring into our handsets. That's an hour spent watching videos, playing games, and checking out photos.

It's no wonder why then, smartphone manufacturers pour so much into display technology, and why screen size and brilliance are important to users when considering a high-end smartphone.

These days, stunning 1080p displays can be found on many top-tier handsets. But CNET rounded up some of the best touchscreens that have come our way recently.

Not only do we take in factors like resolution and pixels per inch (ppi), but we consider brightness, vibrancy, viewing angles, and color tones as well. Take a look at these top-notch displays below and let us know what you think in the reader comments.

Can your eyes even handle the clarity of the G3's ultra-sharp screen? Josh Miller/CNET

LG G3 (multiple carriers), July 2014

With its 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution and envelope-pushing 538ppi, the G3 gets major bragging rights. And while those specs may not be that discernible against its flagship competitors, or even to the human eye (which is only able to see about 466ppi), there's no denying that LG's marquee device is by far one of the sharpest handsets on the market. Read the full LG G3 review.

Because it's equipped with Nokia's ClearBlack display, the Lumia Icon's screen has less glare. Josh Miller/CNET

Nokia Lumia Icon (Verizon Wireless), February 2014

Known as the Lumia 930 outside the US, the Lumia Icon's touchscreen has a ClearBlack Display filter that cuts down glare. Not only that, but it also has different settings for gloves or fingernail touch-operation. Combine all that with 441ppi and HD AMOLED technology, and you got yourself a top-notch screen with rich color and a wide viewing angle. Read the full Nokia Lumia Icon review.

HTC One 2
From its body to its display, the One M8 is all beauty. Sarah Tew/CNET

HTC One M8 (multiple carriers), March 2014

Everything about the One M8 screams quality, and its display is no different. Vivid, bright, and crisp, this 5-inch IPS LCD screen has no problem displaying sharp graphics and images. Take note, however, from CNET's Brian Bennett: if you're outdoors, it's best to wear polarized sunglasses when using the M8. You won't have any trouble viewing the screen in landscape mode, but it looks dim in portrait orientation. Read the full HTC One M8 review.

Don't act so surprised to see the Galaxy S5 on this list. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S5 (multiple carriers), June 2014

Instead of cranking up the resolution and ppi, Samsung thoughtfully improved its Galaxy S5 screen from its predecessor in smaller, but notable ways. For one, it's equipped with a new display panel and accompanying technology, which helps the screen adapt to different lighting environments. The over-saturated tones that often plague AMOLED screens also appear toned down, leaving colors more realistic, but still striking. Read the full Samsung Galaxy S5 review.

According to Sony, the Xperia Z2 isn't just luminous, but it's "triluminous." Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Sony Xperia Z2 (unlocked), April 2014

Although we're not exactly sure what Sony means when it says it uses "triluminous" technology for the Xperia Z2's screen, we do know that the device has a stunning IPS display. Its 1080p resolution and 423ppi translates to an excellent viewing experience for games and movies. In addition, you can adjust the screen's color balance to your preferences. Read the full Sony Xperia Z2 review.

About the author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.


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