Screens: Super LCD vs AMOLED Clear Black Display

Screen Technologies! After monochromatic displays, we had LCDs for a long time, then all of a sudden, we seem to be bombarded by new technologies. OLED, AMOLED, Super-LCD, Super-AMOLED, Clear Black Display, LED, 3D, Retina Display… there are so many we can’t even begin to wrap our heads around.

In this post, we will show you a few pictures to compare the Super LCD display on the HTC Desire Z and the AMOLED Clear Black Display on the Nokia E7.

Brightness Settings

Even though this isn’t a factor due to the screen technology, but to the manufacturer’s setting of the display, I thought it’d be interesting to mention the differences in brightness settings between both, as this is what the end user will be stuck with, when choosing a device (and hence a screen technology and a manufacturer setting) over the other.

One of the downfalls of the E7’s screen experience for me has been the big limitation on display brightness controls. No matter how low you go, the Clear Black Display will remain way too bright to be used conveniently in a dark room. And no matter how high you go on the setting, it will remain a bit darker than other displays, and you feel that there is some additional brightness that can be squeezed out of it.

By comparison, the Super LCD on the Desire Z has a larger brightness spectrum, going from very low light that is appropriate for dark rooms, to super bright for outside usage.

Battery Usage

Thanks to its AMOLED nature, the CBD display uses less power when used to display dark colors, and almost no battery at all for black. This makes it possible to let the E7 display a large clock as a screensaver, at all times, without any significant reduction of the battery life. You can also improve your device’s battery stamina by choosing a darker theme and backgrounds, and preferring applications with dark backgrounds (like the dark theme on Gravity for example).

By comparison, the S-LCD uses LCD technology, and consumes similar battery whether it displays dark or bright colors. This leaves the user with no control at all over battery life, and makes it impossible to use a screensaver.

In The Sun

The biggest problem with the Super-LCD display is usage under direct sun rays. Unless it’s on the highest brightness settings (80% to 100%), the screen appears simply washed out and is barely readable. Even on the 100% setting, it remains slightly washed out. This hampers the device usage for taking pictures in bright environments or reading messages, or basically doing any interaction with your device that requires you looking at the screen.

The CBD however, although based on AMOLED technologies that are normally less performing in direct sun, is a great improvement over them. It works beautifully under sun rays and remains visible even on lower brightness settings, making it a great option to have in sunny countries. Taking pictures, reading texts, using your device: everything is doable with ease, as if the sun just wasn’t there.

Indoors, Dark Room

I set out to do a few pictures to compare the S-LCD and the CBD displays indoors. Both devices were pumped to the highest brightness ranking, and chosen to display the same pictures, in a pitch black room. In the below images, the HTC Desire Z is on top, while the Nokia E7 is on the bottom. Click on the thumbnails for the full-resolution image.

I was actually quite surprised by the results of this test, as I was expecting the CBD to trump the S-LCD by miles, given its AMOLED nature and the Clear Black technology on top. However, the end result is very close, with the S-LCD showing rather vivid and lively colors and standing up to the CBD. Also, thanks to the fact that the S-LCD is brighter than the CBD (even on 100% for both), it shows as a clear winner for me. I’m pretty sure everyone has their own preferences here, and you will find a lot of people who will prefer the colors displayed by the Nokia E7, but I don’t. The S-LCD has won me over.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are advantages and inconveniences for both technologies. If you’re an outdoor person, whether you work outside, or your job has you on the road frequently, or you love going out and taking pictures, the Super-LCD isn’t for you. It might be OK but that’s only on high brightness settings, which reduce battery life a lot. By comparison, the CBD display is perfectly visible outdoors and doesn’t consume a lot of battery, making it ideal for on-the-go persons.

However, if you spend most of your time indoors, the S-LCD will prove to be a better choice. Thanks to its ability to go to really low brightness, and its vibrant colors, it will look and work perfectly well in any room or office. The CBD, by comparison, is harsh on the eyes in dark environments, and has relatively darker and less vibrant colors.

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  • Droid

    Why do you still revolve around e7 and desire z.Come on you cannot compare a screen of an outdated model with a new one atleast you should compare e7 with arc’s reality display.

    • We had a request for this comparison and that’s why we published it. Only a few people live in a country where the Arc is available, or even affordable. The Z might be a bit old, but it’s still interesting to many thanks to its fallen price. Plus, HTC is going to use the S-LCD display in several of their new devices.

      And when/if I even get the Arc, be sure, I’ll do the same comparison.

      • Ricky

        Pls check ur comparison CBD is way more better than SLCD check out the GSMARENA comparison of these screens and one thing that you can never over run the automatic brightness control on Nokia devices thats y its little less brighter in a dark room and secondly it has great viewing angles way more better than of SLCD…

  • I would like to mention one little thing here is that you can actually over-ride the Ambient Light Sensor in most of HTC Phones. I’ve HTC 7 Mozart and it has setting to turn off ‘Automatic Brightness’ control and manually set the brightness. But it has just 3 levels of manual brightness control,Low-Medium-High only.But all three levels work perfectly just as expected. Don’t know about Desire-Z,if it has setting to turn off automatic control.
    But in Nokia phones, from 6630 which used Ambient Light Sensor, you can’t actually manually set brightness. It just allows us to set sensitivity of the sensor and the range in which Sensor is allowed to increase-decrease brightness. So unless you get to turn off that ‘Sensor’ actually all tastes will be biased, in the favor of S-LCD. Instead make comparison between HTC S-AMOLED and HTC S-LCD display.That would be better..

    • The automatic sensor on my Desire Z is turned off, however it isn’t on my E7. I mentioned that clearly in the post.

      • mnhrashad

        I suggest you to redo the test by overriding the ambient light sensor of E7 with this simple app or the app called light control. When you disable the sensor and crank up the brightness to maximum in E7 It will blind you. Taking a photo with the flash light on when the sensor is active will even reduce the brightness of the screen.

  • Ara

    I think you have just compared the brightness of the two screens. If you take battery efficiency, direct sunlight vision, the E7 would be the winner.

    I think the Desire Z has a higher contrast which loses some details & that’s not a winner for me. for example look at this photo:
    the top of the building (or whatever it’s :)) on the E7 is very good detailed. but on the Desire Z the details are lost.

    and you should have also compared them under direct sunlight btw 🙂

    • apaul

      No one compares contrast and brightness out in bright sunlight…

      And the reason E7 loses is because :

      1) The brightness is way too low (same as in N900’s display, though its LCD)

      2) Pathetic resolution for a device with 4 inch display

      The SLCD has it’s shortcomings too but colors and contrast come out way more realistic in it, plus its bright.

      PS The SAMOLED Plus is my favorite though

  • Rocky

    Brightness is not major factor when comparing the displays& the viewing angles, sunlight legiblity, battery consumption, colour reproduction are the favors in this comparison, surely e7 wins over outdated Super Lcd(also gsmarena reviewed it as nothing but a regular lcd)..I think e7 is the clear winner.. According to me the top five displays are,
    (1)Nokia AMOLED CBD display
    (2)Samsung Super AMOLED
    (3)Iphone ips Retina display
    (4) SE Bravia engine / LG NOVA display
    (5)Super Clear Lcd
    & much awaited super amoled plus may beat cbd display or might both rank in same position..
    & so Plz review the same level of competitors(i.e Nova v/s bravia v/s super clear lcd)

  • johnpaul

    Actually u can over run the brightness on E7..Just install SPB mobile shell and set the brightness to maximum from its own brightness settings….u will be amazed by the results..infact i wont even set it to maximum as level 3 is more than enough for me…

  • DJ

    The S-LCD’s colours are more vivid, but they DON’T LOOK NATURAL. moreover a lot of detail is hidden due to its unnatural colours.

    The display of E7 on the other hand is more composed, colours look natural and details are also NOT hidden.

  • bilgehan

    htc desire z has 480p screen and Nokia e7 has 360p, and nokia e7 is better when he has 360p, if nokia e7 had 480p then e7 should be 1000 times better

  • Rai_alam

    First two pictures are original pictures of Desire z and E7 But Other pictures are not.So  they used dark back grounds.Nokia is Going to dead.If they still with Symbian..

  • Interesting comparison, thanks! You should for sure use black themes/backgrounds if you have an AMOLED/OLED based display. Black Google Mobile ( even lets you search in black. It loads faster and has Google Image search in black too which looks great.