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Color me prettier: Galaxy S3 display outdoes iPhone 5's

While the iPhone 5's display is a notable upgrade from the previous version, it falls short of the Galaxy S3, according to a study from IHS.

The iPhone 5's display isn't up to par with the Galaxy S3, according to one study.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Galaxy S3 fans have one more thing to lord over iPhone 5 owners: a superior display.

That's according to a study from IHS, which concluded that Samsung's flagship phone had a screen that was both thinner and had a wider color gamut.

The Galaxy S3's display is just 1.1 millimeters thick and offers the full color gamut of the NTSC standard. In comparison, the iPhone 5's display is 1.5 millimeters thick and offers 72 percent of the standard color gamut.

With consumers increasingly concerned with the minute details and specifications of their mobile devices, the results are a win for Samsung, and further illustrates the point that Apple no longer leads when it comes to adding the latest and greatest technology. That was already highlighted by the fact the iPhone 5's two biggest new features -- a bigger display and 4G LTE -- have long been found in Android devices.

Still, the specifications that IHS points to may be too deep in the weeds for all but the most hardcore fans, and the firm noted that the iPhone 5's improvements over the previous iteration are more than enough to satisfy consumers.

"Such improvements on the iPhone 5 are consistent with Apple's philosophy of selecting features designed to yield profitable products that deliver a superior customer experience, rather than of providing technology for technology's sake," said Vinita Jakhanwal, an analyst at IHS.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone. Josh Miller/CNET

Another study done by DisplayMate, which conducts testing for manufacturers, found that the iPhone 5's display was "state-of-the-art accurate," and only fell short to the new iPad in terms of accuracy and contrast.

DisplayMate president Raymond Soneira blasted the study, arguing that the color gamut test IHS conducted was based off of an old standard that has led to incorrect conclusions.

Jakhanwah declined to comment on the new standard or Soneira's comments.

While the Galaxy S III has a thinner display, the iPhone 5 as a whole is a thinner device. Jakhanwah noted that the use of an in-cell display by Apple has improved the image quality of the phone. The iPhone 4S, for instance, was only able to display half the color gamut of the NTSC standard.

The difference in color gamut between the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 doesn't necessarily mean iPhone users will get a worse experience, IHS said, adding that better calibration, higher brightness, and superior power efficiency of the display may result in more accurate and realistic representation of image color and contrasts.

"Some user reviews indicate that colors presented on the Galaxy S3 actually can look oversaturated and unrealistic," Jakhanwal said. "While it may be interesting to compare the display specifications for the two phones, the actual front-of-screen viewing experience could diverge for different users."

Updated at 8:17 a.m., 10:34 a.m., and 1:51 p.m. PT: to include another study that says the iPhone 5 display is actually superior and a comment from DisplayMate and IHS.

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