The trouble with making a new smartphone stand out based on specifications such as pixels per inch is that by now most new devices have pixel densities that are so high that most users can’t really tell the difference between them with the naked eye. Thus, it’s natural for many smartphone enthusiasts to look toward the size of a display’s color gamut, which determines how many different colors you’ll be able to see on your device. However, AnandTech makes a very compelling case that big color gamuts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be either because they don’t tell you anything about how accurate a display’s colors really are.
“Many people associate larger gamut with better display quality, but taking this logic to the extreme results in extremely unrealistic colors,” AnandTech writes. “The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. Too large or too small of a gamut makes for inaccurate color reproduction. This is where a great deal of the complexity lies, as many people can be confused as to why too large of a display gamut is a bad thing.”
In other words, having a display with more colors than other displays doesn’t do you much good if every image or video you see looks like the psychedelic iOS 7 control panel. In reality, says AnandTech, the standard red-green-blue (sRGB) color gamut is more than enough to display most content accurately. What matters then is how OEMs calibrate their displays to accurately reflect colors as they would appear to us in the real world.
AnandTech acknowledges that some people might actually prefer to have displays that aren’t accurate but are instead brighter or crisper than real-world color schemes. However, this shouldn’t distract us from the fact that color accuracy is something that we can measure objectively and that it’s something we should take into account when we talk about how great a smartphone’s display really is.