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A Plot Twist on the S24 Display Saga

(Topic created on: 03-02-2024 10:38 PM)
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Tech_Master
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UPDATE 1: Also read the post I marked as solution, it contains additional information based on some tests.

TLDR Version: I think it is a driver issue causing incorrect color reproduction and not a question of vibrancy or saturation, for details read below (reading time ~6 minutes...)

So I am an IT professional, AI expert, and tech enthusiast, I had the S23 Ultra since its release at the beginning of last year, it is a perfect and flawless device, everything just works, very polished, no-compromise experience.

When the S24 Ultra was announced, I saw it as a sidegrade, not much to be excited about if you already have the almighty S23 Ultra, and work daily with professional AI tools, but with the attractive pre-order promos I thought why not, a new toy for the new year, and you know life is short so enjoy, I even doubled-down and ordered TWO, one for me and one for the wife!

Because with Samsung something must always go wrong (in my experience at least), one of them got lost in the mail and went to another country, but thanks to probability theory, one of them arrived the next day and I have been playing with it for a few days now.

Of course out the box, the cold frosted grey titanium looked and felt super premium, and high quality, it was love at first sight until (as you might expect) I turned it on and a picture displayed on the screen, I was like huh... Why does this screen look so bad?? That is not the typical experience with a new Samsung phone where the screen is usually a WOW factor every year!

Fast forward a few days later, I got to learn about the "dull display" saga, and the polarized opinions between the group that thinks it is the best display ever, to the other that thinks it's outright unacceptable, and everything in between.

Below are my reflections:

1) From my experience, what is happening with this display is not a down-tuning of the color profile towards less saturated colors, nor is it a settings bug where switching between vivid and natural doesn't do anything, on the contrary in my observation there is a very noticeable change between vivid and natural and even effective temperature tuning settings from cold to hot.

2) The screen looks like a Windows or Linux PC without the correct display driver and/or color profile installed, what I think is happening is the colors reproduction and representation is just wrong, the color space coverage and greyscale gradient are not fully displayed, this results in all sorts of phenomenon described by users, so-called washed out and boring, grainy greys, lines, etc.

3) This is easily detectable in isolation by just using the phone without comparison, but more obviously in comparison not only with other Galaxy phones, but the screen colors look off in comparison to my OLED and QLED TVs from Samsung and other manufacturers, even in comparison to my laptops from DELL & HP, which don't use a "vivid" profile at all, the screen colors on the S24 Ultra are simply just OFF in general.

4) Some users say that this problem is present only in phone menus and icons, but not in media playback, videos and apps, in my experience this issue is present throughout with the exception of HDR10 (DCI-P3 content).

5) Today I played an HD video on both the S23U and S24U side by side, the video shows flowers and landscapes, the difference in picture quality was shockingly significant, the S23 Ultra had that "3D effect" where flowers and trees feel like they are popping out of the display, a similar effect to my Samsung NEO QLED TV, which is an indication of a very high picture quality when everything is just right, however, on the S24 Ultra the colors were muted and the display looked darker despite being technically brighter, and of course no 3D effect.

Under these findings I contacted Samsung's technical support, and the person I talked to was wise enough to escalate the case to specialists in the product team, and not try to give his random opinion like all the other cases we have seen in the news and other posts, so I am hoping for a responsible and conclusive response from the product specialists.

Under these circumstances, I personally have no option but to unfortunately return my S24 Ultras, if I don't get a conclusive answer that the display drivers will be updated, I don't mind natural colors, but they need to be correct colors covering the wide spectrum the display specifications support, until then, I will be rocking my trusty S23 Ultra until we see what the S25 series brings to the table next year, at the risk that life is too short and I might not be around next year!

Thank you for reading and apologies for the long post...

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Tech_Master
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@Bt32 Thank you for adding this excellent piece of information, exactly the kind of comments I was hoping for to move one step further towards demystifying this phenomenon, in light of the complete absence of reliable or official technical explanation from Samsung.

I conducted a small experiment based on your input, I have YouTube premium so can run HDR10 videos in a PIP (floating picture-in-picture) and observe what happens on the home screen and inside apps, in both S24U & S23U side-by-side.

1) It is obvious that both phones switch equally between sRGB and DCI-P3, depending on the content, when the video is not running both are on sRGB, and when HDR video is playing both switch to DCI-P3.

2) The very interesting case is when both are in DCI-P3 mode they are very similar, minus the S24U looks a little darker due to the matt antireflective tint, in this mode both show washed out icons on home screen and even more washed out when eye comfort is enabled, this makes sense because HDR significantly brightens the display via elevated Gamma levels so the SDR icons become washed out, I also ran the Display Tester App in this mode and the solid colors look very similar, just a little darker on the S24U due to the previously mentioned tint. Conclusion of test1: both displays have practically identical DCI-P3 profiles, and perform very similar.

3) When you close the videos and go back to sRGB on both phones, this is where the biggest change happens, both displays become instantly more vivid and Gamma is lowered, the S23U becomes extremely colorful with high saturation, while the S24U becomes also more vivid but with far less color situation. Conclusion of test2: in sRGB profiles the S23 has a significantly higher color saturation, while the profile is dialed down on the S24.

This test leads me to believe that all this fuss is as simple as Samsung changed the sRGB color profile in terms of saturation and possibly gamma levels and forced it on everyone, so many ended up very unhappy, and rightfully so.

The solution seems as simple as was mentioned multiple times, that Samsung must make the right decision by giving people several profile options, like Natural, Vivid, and High Saturation / or Legacy Vivid, or even better, do like Xiaomi and give people more display control over gamma, saturation, contrast, sharpness etc, similar to TVs, so users can dial the settings they prefer.

Now after all is said and done, at the end of the day, due to Samsung's bad UX decision, the S23 and below remain better in sRGB which is 90% of the day-to-day usage of most people, so until Samsung decides to make it right by giving people multiple profile choices, or more control over display settings, the S24 line remains interior from a user experience point of view.

 

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Reylob
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@Tech_Master Welcome to the Community Forums

Thank you for your post, at least it gives a detailed description. It was not just another post with the screen is bad.

If I were to use the new Summary AI feature enable on my ...... brain. My S24U is still preparing for dispatch. 😂

Would it be fair to summarise that to your understanding, the problem is the display drivers?

If the answer is yes, as an IT professional, have you ever encountered a device where the drivers were not updated after release?

Of course, this is a premium device and it should work from the zero second, and users have the right to return it if it does behave like a premium device.

Tech_Master
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@Reylob 

Trying to be as precise as possible in my response:

- Because Samsung is producing 10s of millions of these OLED panels, there will always be those who "lose the panel lottery" or simply get defective ones, I think a % of the complains are coming from that which is normally expected.

- Excluding that group, did Samsung intentionally tune down the colors saturation, following Apple's iPhone natural colors direction? absolutely YES!

- They have been doing the same in QD-OLED TVs with updates, some like it but some don't, for example on my NEO QLED TV, red is extremely strong, it blows out of the screen in red backgrounds, and for those who like eye candy, this is very enjoyable.

- Aside from defects and color saturation tuning, does the S24 displays color correctly otherwise? Absolutely NOT. This is why for example the moment you enable Eye Comfort Shield it completely crushes the colors, which is not normal even in a natural, accurate colors world.

- Most likely Samsung will update the drivers and color profile at some point, not to make it over-saturated like before, but to make the natural colors more correct. When and how will this happen is pure speculation, it is only Samsung who can decide and announce that, but as the saying goes, don't judge electronics by future promise of updates, evaluate them for how they perform today at purchase time, because the updates might not deliver the expected.

- Note that there is also a "tint" effect in the S24 Ultra display, like sunglasses, it has a dark layer that will not go away, so if you like very clear pure whites and bright colors like I do, this will be another issue.

Reylob
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@Tech_Master 

Thank you for the reply. I appreciate you trying to be as precise as possible.

Let’s ignore the panel lottery, because if someone gets a defective panel, then returning the device is the only solution and they will be able to do it, here in the UK. At the very least, the screen will be replaced under warranty terms.

Samsung making the colours more natural is something positive for me. Let’s ignore this one as well, because that it is a personal choice, and the only solution is to buy or not buy. For the sake of brevity, let’s ignore TVs and the like.

So, we are left with the issue that the S24 does not display colours correctly. To your understanding, is this caused by the drivers? Would it be fair to say that this is not hardware problem?

Whilst I entirely agree with you on, don't judge electronics by future promise of updates, evaluate them on how they perform at purchase time. I would say that in this case, this saying does not apply.

Indeed, the updates might not deliver as expected and could also introduce new issues. However, there is a substantial difference between the promise of a new functionality/capability and the update of drivers/firmware to improve stability, correct bugs. In my experience, all devices, consumer or commercial, receive drivers/firmware/BIOS updates to improve the functionalities they were intended to do, but did not work as expected.

Samsung has promised 7 years of upgrades/updates. So, it is very likely that a driver update will happen.

If the “tint” effect is caused by the ability of the screen to perform way better in daylight, many users may think that it is a fair trade-off, but it is like the natural colours, the only solution is to buy or not buy.

If you get a conclusive response from the product specialists. Please, please do update us.

Tech_Master
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@Reylob if by "hardware" we mean the raw technical capability of the display in contrast and color space reproduction, judging by the impressive HDR performance, I would say this is the best display Samsung has produced to date, in my trusty "HDR Jazz" clip on YouTube which I have been using in evaluating many displays for some years, the specular highlights and contrast is at a level I have never seen any display able to produce before.

Also clarify and sharpness of especially small text is noticeably improved from S23/S22.

Now I need to be careful here, in theory it is highly probable that Samsung will correct the display drivers and color profile to make the picture quality up to expectations of such an expensive flagship, however, I am not entirely sure to what extent this is possible via OTA updates vs. the need for workshop visits or recalls.

All I know is they can't just let the situation be and expect it to solve itself while avoiding the backlash, because no matter how you look at it, the colors are OFF from what you would expect from a flagship.

Let's imagine the worst case scenario just for contrast, if an OTA update solution is not possible, and Samsung not publicly acting on the problem like what's happening now, I think it will play out like this:

- They will silently correct it in the factory in new production, as they always do in the background with all their running production.

- Customers who decided that they can live with what they got will get just that.

- Customers who otherwise return their devices, it will go back to factory, be corrected and put back in the market.

The net result will be a selective recall for those who really need it, without Samsung publicly admitting there was ever a problem to begin with.

In my particular case, because I previously won the "panel jackpot" with my S23 Ultra, and don't really have the "bright sunlight use-case",  so I will not get rid of my S23U until I have at hand a better or equivalent display now or next year, otherwise there is zero motive to change.

I will of course feedback here when and if I get useful feedback from the product team :smiling-face:

(This post was written on my S24 Ultra under evaluation of keyboard and touch response, not bad! 😉)

Louis Andre
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I agree, well said.

That is also my argument.  The colors on my S24 Ultra are simply not accurate colors.  One example are the Reds.  If you notice, they are actually Orange.

My S23 Ultra is clearly Red with Reds and Orang with Oranges, it's very easy to differentiate colors on the S23, but not with the S24.  I'll give Samsung 2 weeks to fix this or the S24 it's getting returned.

mizgor
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How do you explain the permanent noise "filter" giving the grainy effect?

I used to have a similar issue with a LG v30 back then which was a hardware issue.

I'm aware of monitor lottery with the G9, but I didn't expect it to be that spread for phones displays too.

Reylob
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@Tech_Master 

Yes, by hardware, I mean the accepted meaning of the term, physical components/faults versus any kind of software, ROM, firmware, operating system, drivers, applications, coding in any form.

If the screen had a hardware fault, e.g. not having the technical specifications for a particular function or a manufacturing fault like soldering. There is no update that can fix that. For example, the screen can achieve 2600 nits peak. No update will manage the screen to achieve 3000 nits.

In the other hand, if the issue is software related and there was a bug in the code, some fault on the drivers, a fix is almost a certainty.

I have said that so far it seems like it is a software issue, which agrees with your statement “judging by the impressive HDR performance, I would say this is the best display Samsung has produced to date”. In addition, the screen was tested independently by a German company.

I do not think that there will be a need for a recall, workshop visits unless the device itself has hardware problems. Like that small % of defective ones from the manufacturing process that was alluded before.

Speculating about the worse-case scenario is as reliable as predicting the future. Another possible consequence could be a legal class action brought to the courts against Samsung. I admit that Samsung Customer support is very far from acceptable, but their commitment to 7 years upgrades/updates is reassuring.

I do not think the advantages of the S24 Ultra are very significant over the S22 Ultra, let alone the S23 Ultra. In your case or for anybody in a similar situation, it is perfectly understandable why you do not want to change.

Users will need to make a decision based on facts and their circumstances. As I said before, this is a premium product, and it should work as such from the moment is taken out the box. If one is unhappy with it, then returning the phone seems a very logical course of action.  If one is happy with the device and this screen issue is the fly in the ointment, then keeping it, seems a good option because there are high probabilities it will be solved. Of course, this is a very personal decision.

We will thank you for posting the product team’s feedback, if you get it. Enjoy your excellent S23 Ultra.

PS our apologies to all forum members for these long posts.

Bt32
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It crushes colours because they are now displaying SDR content in the 100% sRGB colour space. When you change to HDR the colourspace changes to 100% DCI P3 and you have no crushing(you can actually see it change when you go into the gallery and view the new ultra HDR photos).This is dynamically changing the colourspace based on the content which is actually a good thing, it's like your TV does. sRGB on SDR content gives you accurate colours as the creator intended, however on for eg the homescreen it will look less vivid than before as Samsung used to push DCI P3 on the whole phone. There's a good explainer here... https://www.displayninja.com/what-is-srgb-emulation-mode/ I'm certain this is as intended by Samsung and won't be changed as the Zfold5 has the exact same calibration and has done since its release 6 months ago.
mizgor
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Here's a comparison between a s24u and a poco F3 (taken by an iPhone 11 with night mode) 

Is this supposed to be software of hardware related?

1000001301.jpg