In Finland, the sun goes down around September and it is seldom seen, or at least it feels that way if you’re living there, until April time. Yet this did not stop the Nokia Lumia 900 from having the best user experience even in sunny conditions.
Now, with the Nokia Lumia 920, the engineers have managed to make an even brighter display, which works even better in sunlight. How have they managed all this when they spend half the year in darkness?
Part of Nokia’s success lies in the illumination room where engineers work on improving display visibility under different lighting conditions.
“We joke that if someone has a very good tan, either they have been relaxing somewhere sunny in Europe or otherwise they have been working hard in our simulator,” says Senior Technology Manager, Jussi Ropo.
You could say that the illumination room is where the magic happens.
Building on ClearBlack
Nokia’s development of ClearBlack display technology was an important milestone towards improving screen visibility by reducing reflections when it is sunny outside.
They have now built on this success with some further innovations.
First is the high brightness mode, which increases the luminance of the screen by 20 per cent in sunlight conditions. This improvement has been achieved with a better understanding of how LEDs work and being able to maximise their potential.
Despite the low reflectance and high brightness display, overcoming the powerful display hazing effect of the sun is not an easy task and leaves room for further improvement. The next innovation therefore is the sunlight readability enhancement algorithm, which is able to tune the display content on the fly so that the details are much clearer and crisper even in direct sunlight.
Power to perform
Of course, a trade-off for having a brighter display is that it will consume more battery. However, it is probably not as much as you might think.
“The high brightness mode is driving the LED with a higher current and producing 20 per cent more brightness, which means that the backlight is also consuming 20 per cent more power,” says Jussi.
“On the other hand, due to low reflectance of the optical stack, our estimate is that typically only 5-10 per cent of the time will you be in extremely bright conditions where you will need this high brightness mode. So in total, it will not be that heavy on the battery.”
This is crucial to understand, because only in extremely bright conditions, when you are outside and the sun is shining, will the high brightness mode be engaged.
When you are indoors, the ambient light sensor will automatically adjust the display to the optimal brightness setting, thus offering both good visual ergonomics and lower power consumption.
A further point is that within the Windows Phone settings, you are in control of the display brightness. The setting needs to be kept in the automatic mode and high brightness mode for you to benefit from the high brightness LED-driving and sunlight readability enhancement algorithm. Of course, you also have the choice to manually set the brightness mode to medium if you are worried about power consumption.
“We believe that users are willing to sacrifice a bit of power consumption if they can really use their phone outdoors. If you choose to use the low brightness mode, your battery would last longer but the experience would not be so great in sunny conditions,” says Jussi and he recommends keeping the Lumia 920 in automatic and high brightness mode for maximum usability.
More to come
Nokia has delivered on producing the best possible display and touch experience on the new Lumia 920.
Despite the great advances and improving on the Nokia Lumia 900, which was already the best display in sunlight, Jussi hints that there are more great things on the way.
Sounds like there is more magic to come from the illumination room.