The display on the new Galaxy S21 Ultra represents a big improvement over the panel on the Galaxy Note20 Ultra and especially the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
For starters it enables variable refresh rate at the higher QHD+ resolution. Samsung has achieved this by increasing the clock speed of the MIPI display interface from 1157MHz to 1462MHz, similarly to what OnePlus did last year with 8 Pro.
The guys over at AnandTech set out to test the display on the Galaxy S21 Ultra and compare it to the OLEDs on the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Note20 Ultra, finding more interesting details in the process.
The first test involves black screen. When faced with dimmer light (less than 40 lux), the Galaxy S21 Ultra will turn off its variable refresh rate and lock the screen at 120Hz, resulting in increased power consumption. Whereas when the light is above 40 lux and the screen is using its variable refresh rate, it will consume less power than the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but more than the Galaxy Note20 Ultra.
Samsung would be able to increase the battery life further if it found a way to keep the variable refresh rate at dimmer screen settings.
However when tested with full white screen, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s OLED becomes much more efficient. It’s up to 31% more efficient than the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s, in fact. The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s screen uses less power at its peak 942 nits of brightness than the Galaxy S20 Ultra at lower 778 nit maximum brightness. The Galaxy S21 Ultra also uses about 20% less power than the Galaxy Note20 Ultra at the same peak brightness.
Finally, when set to a standard webpage, locked at 300 nits at 120Hz FullHD, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s screen consumes 27% less power than the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which is arguably the improvement that matters the most.
All of this is likely enabled by the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s new OLED emitter. Samsung hasn’t gone into details about it, but it is what makes the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s display so efficient and what has enabled such great battery life from the same 5,000mAh battery capacity.