Available only on certain devices such as Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets, this setting alters the colors on the device's screen.
In simple terms, this setting modifies how saturated (vivid) the colors on the screen will be. It can be adjusted to your individual preference.
The various settings represent a continuum between highly saturated colors, and more accurate colors. Samsung devices have the capability to display very vivid, highly saturated colors which boost color saturation far beyond the colors which can be represented by the standard sRGB color space used by most operating systems, the web, digital photos and movies.
Alongside these settings, Samsung displays a sample image that changes its appearance as you select different options. The sample image is a particularly poor demonstration of how accurate the colors will look, as it consists mainly of highly saturated colors already, rather than having a range of different color tones, and it shows no human skin tones, which would more clearly demonstrate any inaccuracies.
More saturated, less accurate modes tend to impress on first glance, with color inaccuracies being harder to initially judge. Be sure to check photos on the web to see if their colors match your expectations.
The basic mode aims for the highest accuracy according to the sRGB standard, ensuring that colors on the screen will look as close as possible to how they were intended to look when they were designed, or encoded. If you have an AMOLED screen this mode won't take advantage of your screen's wide gamut (its ability to represent more highly saturated colors), but this results in greater accuracy.
While basic is the most accurate mode, different devices vary in accuracy. For example, devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 have very high accuracy while some older devices have lower accuracy.
The AMOLED photo mode aims for relatively pleasant and accurate-looking images, but boosts saturation to take advantage of the wide gamut available on AMOLED screens. This mode represents a mid-point between accuracy and high color saturation.
The AMOLED cinema mode is the least accurate, most highly saturated mode. Color saturated is boosted even further than in AMOLED photo mode, leaving colors looking unnaturally vivid. Human skin tones are likely to look unnatural.
The terms "photo" and "cinema" here are fairly arbitrary; these modes don't really have anything to do with photography or video. The term "AMOLED" signifies that the colors are boosted to take advantage of the high color saturation available on AMOLED screens.
The adaptive display mode theoretically alters the color saturation, as well as other factors including sharpness, according to how you are using your device, such as what app you are currently using, and on some devices, how bright your surroundings are. This may mean that while using the video player, color and sharpness may be boosted, while during other activities such as browsing the web, saturation is slightly more accurate.
There are a number of drawbacks to this mode:
- The adaptive behavior is only fully supported in certain apps. In other apps, it will just fall back to a default/guess.
- Its default color saturation is already typically around that of the "AMOLED photo" mode, which already boosts color beyond accurate levels. This may not be your preference if you prefer accurate colors.
- Its behavior is not well explained, and you are essentially trusting Samsung's own subjective opinion on what color mode works best in a variety of situations, which may not be the same as your own preferences.
Screen modes on older or non-AMOLED devices
Older Samsung devices used different names for the modes.
Non-AMOLED devices still boost colors in the same way as AMOLED devices, but highly saturated colors will clip as they exceed the capabilities of LCD screens, unable to display more saturation than the screen is capable of.
The Movie mode is equivalent to the new basic mode, aiming for accuracy. On some older devices Movie mode caused a slight yellow color cast.
Professional photo mode is equivalent to AMOLED photo mode, boosting colors a little and representing a mid-point between accuracy and color saturation.
Standard was also a mode similar to AMOLED photo mode, and was present on devices which did not have an "Adaptive display" mode. It did not, however, adapt the display like that mode.
Dynamic mode is equivalent to AMOLED cinema mode, boosting colors even further and representing the least accurate mode.