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The Science Behind iPhone’s Stunning Visuals: Delving into OLED Display Technology

A unique display for a unique device

The Science Behind iPhone’s Stunning Visuals: Delving into OLED Display Technology
David Bernal Raspall

David Bernal Raspall

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Since its launch in 2007, the iPhone has been one of the most popular and recognized smartphones in the world and much of that recognition has always come from the screen. From introducing the first multitouch display – gigantic for the time – to the all-screen front ends – except for the Dynamic Island – of the iPhone 14 Pro and rumored iPhone 15 the company has constantly innovated, improving design, features and overall performance. We’ll explore, then, the technology that drives iPhone displays and how OLED technology has significantly improved the viewing experience for all of us.

Apple has used various display technologies in its devices over the years. From the earliest versions of the iPhone all the way up to the iPhone 7, the displays were LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). A type of display that, while offering acceptable image quality, had its limitations, such as lower contrast and lower power efficiency compared to OLED displays.

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With the arrival of the iPhone X in 2017, Apple took a leap forward by adopting OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) technology for its displays. This technology allows for a much more advanced viewing experience, with high contrast, greater energy efficiency and brighter colors.

What is OLED technology and how does it work?

OLED displays are different from LCD displays in several ways. While LCD displays use a light source that comes from the display frames to illuminate all pixels on the screen evenly, OLED displays have organic diodes that emit light when an electric current is applied to them.This means that each pixel on an OLED display is capable of emitting its own light – in addition to color – allowing for much more precise control of brightness and contrast. Beyond this, OLED displays offer several advantages over LCD displays:

  • Higher contrast: because each pixel in an OLED display is capable of emitting its own light, dark areas of the screen can display true black by turning off the corresponding pixels completely. In other words, a pixel turned off on an OLED display is a completely black pixel. Whereas, on an LCD display, although the pixel does not emit a color, it does let some of the backlight through-what we call bleed-thus it has a gray color. This change results in significantly better contrast in OLED displays compared to LCD displays.
  • More accurate and vibrant colors: OLED technology enables a much wider color gamut than LCD displays. This translates into more vivid and accurate colors when representing reality. Combined with the extra brightness, this makes it possible to view content in HDR format, which is especially useful for viewing multimedia content and playing video games.
  • Faster response time: OLED displays have faster response times than LCD displays, which means that moving objects on the screen appear sharper and clearer. This is especially useful in applications and games that require a high refresh rate and to provide a smooth interface.
  • Greater energy efficiency: because OLED displays only light up the pixels needed to display an image, they consume less power compared to LCD displays, which require a constant light source to illuminate the entire screen. This directly helps improve the iPhone’s battery life, something we will notice more if we use apps with black backgrounds or have Dark Mode enabled.

With few disadvantages, but with the microLED on the horizon

However, not everything is perfect with OLED technology. A known problem with OLED displays is the so-called “burn-in” or image retention, which occurs when a static image remains on the screen for a prolonged period and the affected pixels show a shadow of that image even after changing the on-screen content. This is a situation that has been significantly reduced with the advancement of OLED technology and the solutions implemented by manufacturers, but is inherent to the fact that LEDs are organic.

That is exactly why the entire industry is moving towards the ultimate goal in displays: the microLED. A technology we can describe as OLED, where LEDs are no longer organic.

In any case, OLED technology has proven to be an excellent choice for enhancing the iPhone experience. So much so that Apple has continued to implement and improve OLED displays in other devices, such as the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

It’s clear that OLED technology has revolutionized the way we experience content on our iPhones. By providing more vibrant colors, deep blacks, fast response times and greater energy efficiency, OLED displays have significantly improved the experience. And that’s just the beginning, as we wait for it to come to even more devices other technologies are making their way in.

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Some of the links added in the article are part of affiliate campaigns and may represent benefits for Softonic.

David Bernal Raspall

David Bernal Raspall

Architect | Founder of hanaringo.com | Apple Technologies Trainer | Writer at Softonic and iDoo_tech, formerly at Applesfera

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