A couple of days of sunshine and we think we are all set for the summer, but if you plan to spend most of your time outside rather than inside what is the best phone for you to be able to see the screen in the sun?

We grabbed a handful of phones in the Pocket-lint office and headed outside to see which is the best. 

The Test

We set the phone's brightness setting to maximum, turned off auto brightness mode and headed out to find sunshine. The photos where taken in London around 1pm when the sun is at its highest and away from any shade. Our chief phone holder and our photographer stayed still while phones were switched in and out for the photograph (yes, it really did take the manpower of five of the team to do this). For all phones we chose the home screen.  

The phones

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There is nothing too scientific about the phones we chose. In the test we tried the iPhone 4S, the Samsung Galaxy S II, the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Nokia Lumia 900, the HTC One X, and the Sony Xperia S. The lead picture, taken inside but with natural light, is arranged in level of brightness of the screen from left to right. We've also included this photo in black and white better to show the screen brightness without the clutter of the colour on the screen or the warm or cold tints the manufacturers use. 

The iPhone 4S 

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Inside and the iPhone 4S screen viewing the Pocket-lint homepage appears to be the brightest. It is also the whitest, with a very blue tinge to the white of the site compared to the warmer glow of the HTC One X. Outside and you can still see what is going on, perhaps helped by the colour icons on the home screen. 

The Samsung Galaxy S II

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Not so bright. That's the verdict on the Samsung Galaxy S2. Even in our use inside the phones screen isn't that bright, and as anyone who uses a SGSII or knows someone who does, when it gets sunny, don't ask them anything that involves them using their phone. 

The Samsung Galaxy S III

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It might have the biggest screen in our test, but that just seems to mean more to reflect. Like the Samsung Galaxy S II the S3 screen doesn't fare very well at all in the sunshine. And this is on full brightness, remember. Inside and compared to the others it's not much better. Find a dark room, however, and it's a very different story with the SGS3 screen looking great. 

The Nokia Lumia 900

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The strong colours of the Windows Phone 7 operating system on the Nokia Lumia 900 mean that it is great for use outdoors in the sun - who would have thought the geeks and Microsoft liked the beach? The simply Metro design really is clear to see and you would have no trouble using the phone by the pool. 

The HTC One X

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The HTC One X and its large LCD display does't fare too badly in the sun with the strong design of Sense coming through under bright light. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S3, you clearly pick out the icons and the features of the phone.

The Sony Xperia S 

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We have a soft spot for the Sony Xperia S at Pocket-lint and in yet another test with the phone we can see why. The screen really is good, and really copes well under the sun's harmful rays. We had no problems using the phone at all in direct sunlight. 


The screen on both the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 came out bottom of our mini test, suggesting that while both are very good phones if you are planning on using them out and about this summer you might want to be prepared to cup your hand over the screen as a shade. 

Surprisingly the best experience was to be had with the Nokia Lumia 900 on account of the simple to see interface.