The Lumia 930 packs a 5” 1920x1080 resolution AMOLED display into its chassis. As seems to be the norm for higher resolution AMOLED, the Lumia 930 uses a RGBG Pentile matrix. AMOLED seems to have a lot more issues with color reproduction than most LCD displays, but the recent showing from Samsung with the Galaxy S5 and especially the Galaxy S5 LTE-A model have proven that an accurate AMOLED display can be done. The question is if it was done in this case. As display quality is one thing that can still differentiate one device from another, it is an important point. No part of a smartphone is used more than the display.

The latest Lumia devices with the Nokia “Cyan” firmware offer more customization of display settings than ever before, with fully adjustable brightness, and the ability to adjust color temperature, tint, and saturation. This is a huge step forward, but the hope is that the display can be accurate out of the box as well.

Like the Lumia 630 we recently looked at, the Lumia 930 also supports Nokia’s ClearBlack technology for better outdoor viewing and better black levels due to a reduction in reflections in the display layers. In addition, the device has Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a high brightness mode for outdoor viewing, and a second enhancement for outdoor viewing which Nokia calls “Sunlight readability enhancements” and is a method of performing content-adaptive backlight control (CABC) to adjust the perceived brightness of an image, but rather than doing full-frame CABC which is the common method of doing this, Nokia’s implementation utilizes Assertive Display technology from Apical. Rather than perform the CABC on an entire image, Assertive Display performs the adjustment on a per-pixel level. This can dramatically increase the usability of a display in bright sunlight and it does so without necessarily using more display power. Below is a sample of the Lumia 930 with the feature both on and off.

Sunlight Readbility Off (upper picture) vs On (lower picture)

This photo is somewhat of a worst case scenario, with a very dark image outside under the full sun. The bottom image is with the Sunlight Readability Mode enabled, and you can see that more of the image is visible.

To test the display accuracy, we turn to Spectralcal’s CalMAN 5 software package with a custom workflow. We utilize the X-Rite i1Pro Spectrophotometer for color accuracy and saturation, and the X-Rite i1Display Pro for contrast ratios. As this is an AMOLED display, we generally ignore the contrast ratios and black levels since the black level of AMOLED is zero, meaning the contrast ratio for all AMOLED displays is infinite.

Display - Max Brightness

The maximum brightness is very good for an AMOLED device at around 400 nits. Other 1080p AMOLED displays include the Galaxy S5, which only comes in at 350 nits. The maximum output was achieved in the outdoor viewing mode, with normal brightness levels kept much lower. It is a good result for this type of display and certainly helps with the phone being able to be used outdoors.

Display - White Point

Display - Grayscale Accuracy

Now we can start to see some issues with the Nokia’s implementation of this AMOLED display. White Point is pretty good at 6347. What is missing though is green, which starts to drop off almost immediately after 5 to 10% white level, and then continues to fall right up until 100%. This leads to a grayscale average dE2000 of 9.4777 with the upper scores causing most of the issues. The grayscale almost perfectly follows an inverse of the green levels in the overall image.

Display - Saturation Accuracy

Saturation accuracy is also not fantastic, with a dE2000 average of 6.6579. It is not helped either with the grayscale being so far off, which really pulls this score up. But regardless of grayscale, the saturation sweeps show all of the colors are off.

Display - GMB Accuracy

Like the saturation sweeps, the Gretag Macbeth color checker also has a dE2000 average of over 6, which is not great. There is really nothing here to focus in on as being well done. Out of the box, there is clearly no effort put in to calibrate the display at the factory which is a shame because other competitors are putting this effort in.

Adjusted Display

As part of the Nokia firmware updates, we can finally adjust the individual aspects of the display now. Not only can brightness be adjusted on a slider, but color temperature can be adjusted from warm to cool, tint can be adjusted from green to purple, and color saturation can be adjusted from neutral to vivid. This allows us to compensate for the lack of green and try to get the display into a much more accurate mode. While not a true color management system, it is certainly better than no options, or just generic options like “cinema mode” or other such methods of changing the profile of the display.

I performed some adjustments of the tint in order to pull the green values up, and the results were much better. While the white point was increased to 7006, the green values averaged much closer to 100 with this adjustment. Grayscale was still not perfect at 4.03, but it was much better than the initial results of 9.477. Saturation accuracy improved dramatically to 3.6781, and the Gretag Macbeth came all the way down to 3.075 which is right in line with the upper boundary of what you would consider a good display.

The disappointing part is that the display wasn’t dialed in out of the box. Clearly with not much effort, Nokia could have made this display more accurate because a simple tint adjustment brought the numbers way lower.

Overall, the display is a mixed bag. 1080p on a 5” screen means 441 pixels per inch, which is good. The pentile RGBG subpixel layout does not appear to be an issue once the pixels per inch get high enough.  Images are very sharp and crisp, and the larger size works well with Windows Phone and gives you access to more tiles on your home screen without having to scroll. I have always like AMOLED on Windows Phone, because the operating system lends itself well to high contrast and good black levels, with AMOLED displays really shining with their true blacks. Unfortunately the color accuracy is quite poor though, and while it can be adjusted, it is too bad that it does not get any sort of calibration at the factory like some of the other flagship devices now.

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  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Good to finally have a review, even if it's conveniently just in time to be buried by apple articles.
  • Brett Howse - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    That's my bad I received the phone at the start of August but was unable to review it for a while due to personal matters.
  • jimbo2779 - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Lol I gotta say I did think this myself but am sure it is just unlucky timing.

    I am very glad that WP is starting to get some virtual column inches around here, there really isn't a best place to read reviews about phones or anything else tech related really.
  • maximumGPU - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Yes thanks Brett for finally reviewing a windows phone. Hope they get more coverage.
  • halcyon - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Shortest real-world battery life.

    Longest battery recharge times.

    Non-removable battery.

    Slowest / Stupidest web-browser for visiting web-pages and no real alternative on the whole platform (all are IE skins basically).

    And very little WP apps to combat the sucky browsing experience.

    Now, remind me again, why would I buy this as a smartphone?
  • kyuu - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Real-world battery life is much better than the tests suggest. I'm not sure if there's an issue with how Brett is doing the testing or what, but it's definitely not right.

    Battery recharge time was skewed due to Brett not being able to use the proper charger.

    Harping on a non-removable battery nowadays is just silly.

    IE on WP doesn't have the best benchmark scores, but those benchmarks are largely useless anyway. They've all been optimized and cheated on by everyone. In real usage, I don't notice any difference in web page load times on my Lumia 920 (which has a much slower SoC than the reviewed 930) as compared to any flagship Android or iPhone.

    WP has plenty of apps, including some really nice ones that can't be found on other platforms. Harping on the app store thing at this point is ignorant.

    Buy whatever smartphone platform you like, but kindly don't cherry-pick a few tidbits from a single problematic review to support what is likely your preexisting bias against the WP platform.
  • notposting - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    I upgraded from the 928 to the Icon, and putting them side by side running WP8/GDR3 with the same apps, performance is basically identical.

    The Icon pulls away in loading times, and has a slight advantage in browsing, but otherwise even the older dual cores run fine.

    Put the Icon up against the LG G3 I shipped out yesterday and web browsing was a wash.

    Of course, the camera on the 928 blew them both away in very low light situations, so there's that. :P
  • Klimax - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    "One thing that Anand has harped on with regards to Windows Phone is that it is often on a much older SoC than competitive Android phones. This delta in performance is difficult to turn a blind eye to, even for supporters of the platform."
    What for. In general you don't need that power. (For exceptions there are some games like Total Defense 3D, which can slow down massively)

    Delta in performance often doesn't translate in better experience...
  • suandantal - Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - link

    I just bought this device (live in europe) and I love it! Just sold my old company phone IPhone 5 which I've never really used that much, IOS just doesn't cut it for me I guess although I do love the Hardware. Currently I own a nexus 5 as well as this green lumia 930 as well as the old 920. Lumia 930 is definitely an upgrade over the 920, although battery life isn't as good as it should be. Everyone should give WP a try... so try a lumia 630/635 they're like 100-150$, yet really delivers a very good experience.
  • dirtyvu - Sunday, September 21, 2014 - link

    It can't be emphasized enough how great the RAW feature is. I've personally not been impressed by most smartphone pictures. They're great... for smartphone pictures. But after running the 929/930 RAW pictures through Adobe Camera Raw, these are amazing pictures. Pictures I can show as equal or superior to "real" cameras.

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