‘Apple’ OLED Display On The $1000 iPhone 8, ‘iPhone X’ Gets You This – Forbes

iPhone 8 dummy 'prototype.'Credit: Danny Winget

iPhone 8, aka ‘iPhone X,’ dummy ‘prototype.’

The next high-end iPhone’s marquee hardware feature will be its OLED display. Here’s why it should be better (we hope) than any iPhone display yet (even if it’s late).

Smartphone organic light-emitting diode displays have been around for years. OLED displays have been appearing on Samsung phones since 2008 and more recently on high-profile phones like the Google Pixel (and likely the upcoming Google Pixel 2) and LG V30, as well as Windows phones from Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

Why OLED: With OLEDs, each individual sub-pixel is “independently directly electrically powered” to emit light, according to display expert Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies. That provides “better color accuracy, image contrast accuracy, and screen uniformity, in addition to incredibly flexible display power management since only the active image sub-pixels draw power based on their individual brightness levels,” according to his written analysis.

The quick-and-dirty upshot is: compared to smartphone LCDs (Liquid Crystal Displays), OLED displays are getting better at a faster pace and deliver deeper blacks, fast response times, and better viewing angles.

OLED display technology is now exceeding the performance of the best LCDs for Smartphones. There is no better confirmation of the OLED lead in performance than [well-sourced reports]…from a number of prominent publications that Apple will be switching the top-of-the-line iPhone to OLED displays in 2017.

–Raymond Soneira, DisplayMate Technologies

Plus, OLEDs are more suited than LCDs to being made into flexible and curved screens. That said, it does not appear that the iPhone 8 will have the more aggressively curved display edges of the Samsung Galaxy S8 — but Apple could do that in the future.

Wait, aren’t there OLED downsides? Not all OLED displays are created equal (same goes for LCDs). As a recent (September 2) review at Ars Technica points out, LG’s OLED on the V30 supplied to Ars Technica had some issues.

The OLED panel on my pre-production unit still has the same issues as the LG G Flex. In low brightness in a dark room, the screen is grainy and has “dirty” looking horizontal banding all over it. The light level is also woefully uneven, with hotspots blazing out of the left and right corners.

–Ars Technica

I asked DisplayMate’s Soneira about that.* “LG is restarting their smartphone OLED display line, so this could be an early production issue,” he said in response to an email query. And he said the following about the visible uniformity problems cited in the Ars Technica review:

All display technologies have uniformity problems near black, including all LCDs. It’s harder to see them on an LCD because their high black levels camouflage the non-uniformities. It’s easier to spot on OLEDs because they have very high contrast ratios so dark irregularities are easy to see, particularly with test patterns. The question is, are those irregularities visually noticeable by users with real image content?

–Raymond Soneira

And what about Samsung’s OLED displays — which Apple will reportedly use? “The Samsung Galaxy OLED displays have excellent dark screen uniformity, which I carefully evaluate with test patterns during my extensive lab tests – they are visually indistinguishable from perfect human vision in real image content,” Soneira told me in an email.

“So the Samsung Galaxy OLEDs are definitely superior to LCDs in screen uniformity from very bright to very dark content,” Soneira added.

Apple isn’t dumb: Apple is savvy at adopting new technologies and my bets are on a very high-quality OLED display. The downside for Apple will be its sole-supplier reliance on Samsung for these high-volume, high-quality OLEDs, which one analyst is claiming is driving up the cost of the iPhone 8. (Other display suppliers like LG simply aren’t there yet for very-high-volume, high-quality supply.)

Soneira had some more thoughts about the OLED display on the upcoming “iPhone 8”:

Given that the iPhone 8 (or whatever its actual name is) will be an OLED manufactured by Samsung Display, it will be really interesting to see what the hardware differences are between it and the OLED displays in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note8. For example, I’m pretty sure that Apple won’t be using Diamond Pixels like on all recent Galaxy OLED displays.

I’m also very sure that both the LCD and OLED iPhones will support the latest DCI-P3 Color Gamut that is also used for 4K TVs. Plus they will almost certainly be certified by the UHD Alliance for Mobile HDR Premium, which will allow them to play all of the latest content produced for 4K UHD Premium TVs.

OLED price too high? Soneira disputes that the higher cost is due solely to the OLED.  He cites Ross Young of Display Supply Chain Consultants, “who estimated the additional cost of the OLED display module for the latest Smartphones to be just $45 to $50 higher than for an LCD,” according to Soneira.

“There are of course many factors involved in setting the final retail price for a Smartphone, but the actual additional cost of the OLED display itself is only a small portion of the latest predicted price increases, which are most likely due to increased margins and to higher demand with a limited supply,” he said in an email.

*I also queried LG but have yet to get a response.

iPhone 8 (L) and iPhone 7s Plus 'prototypes.' The Pixel XL is expected to have 'minimal' bezels.Credit: Danny Winget

iPhone 8 aka ‘iPhone X’ (L) and iPhone 7s Plus ‘prototypes.’ The Pixel XL is expected to have ‘minimal’ bezels.

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