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Why Nokia's Lumia 900 screen looks so darn good

One screen expert shares with CNET some of the secret sauce that makes the Lumia 900's AMOLED screen so bright and readable.

Nokia Lumia 900
Josh Miller/CNET

In my review of the Nokia Lumia 900, I mention that using the 4.3-inch AMOLED screen with ClearBlack display technology is one of my favorite experiences on the phone.

Sure, the specs aren't technically as advanced as those on, say, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus with its HD AMOLED screen and sky-high resolution, but the result is pretty impressive: lots of brightness, black blacks, and a good range of color.

Well, according to screen expert Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies, there's at least one other explanation that stands out: reflectance.

If you can pick your teeth while gazing at a smartphone or tablet screen, it has a high rate of light reflectance.

Using your screen to fix your hair might come in handy in some situations, but your reflection can degrade the sharpness and color quality you see on the screen, according to Soneira. The same goes for any ambient light that bounces off the screen.

Soneira discovered that Nokia's Lumia 900 screen manages to skirt the dilemma with that ClearBlack display technology, with "circularly polarized" glare-suppressing optics.

The Lumia 900 has "the lowest screen reflectance of any mobile device I have ever measured," Soneira told CNET. "4.4 percent, which is almost 40 percent lower than the iPhone 4."

The take-home message is that phone and tablet screens with lower reflectance appear brighter and clearer to read indoors.

DisplayMate's Soneira tested the Lumia 900 as part of a larger screen analysis for Apple's new iPad. You can read more about his methods and results here.