Dr. Raymond M. Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation, wrote an amazing article in which he conducted a detailed analysis of the characteristics and technologies used by Apple in the production of displays for its new flagships in comparison with the iPhone 5 and existing competitors. Also, Dr. Sauniere conducted an incredible number of laboratory tests, the description and results of which you can find in our translation.
At all times, the key element of a successful smartphone has been an innovative and high-tech display, which has always flaunted the flagships of top manufacturers. Until recently, Apple iPhones and iPads have remained at the top of technological progress: very high-performance IPS LCDs that transmit 100% sRGB gamut and 24-bit color appeared very early in them. Steve Jobs and Apple in general have always paid much attention to the quality of displays in promoting their products.
The most aggressive innovation of Apple was the Retina-display iPhone 4, in which resolution and pixel density (ppi) were doubled. It was a brilliant technical and marketing move that left competitors far behind.
iPhone 4s, 5, 5s
But after that, the iPhone display innovations slowed down and came to naught: in 2011, the iPhone 4s display remained the same; in 2012, the iPhone 5 display received an expansion of the sRGB color gamut to 100% and was increased to four inches; the display of the iPhone 5s in 2013 remained exactly the same.
While Apple’s display innovation has slowed, other manufacturers have been working in this direction all the time, trying to take the lead. Now Amazon, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG and Samsung use better and more innovative displays than Apple in their products. Take for example the displays of the new iPad mini Retina, the color gamut of which was reduced from 100 to 63% (compared to earlier Apple products), which is why it occupies far from the best place among competitors.
Now, in 2014, four years after the release of the innovative iPhone 4, it’s nice to see the display improvements in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus again. However, Apple has much to make up for in these four years, as competitors did not sit idly by and now there are a lot of smartphones on the market with Full HD LCD and OLED displays.
Using sapphire in the manufacture of iPhone displays to provide protection against scratches was perhaps one of the most popular rumors. However, the probability of the appearance of sapphire in the display of the iPhone 6 was close to zero, since it would take at least a year to “break in” the technology. In addition, sapphire has disadvantages in addition to the high cost and complexity of manufacture. His main problem is that it increases the reflective properties almost twice, so the sapphire display will be very difficult to read in natural light. This is one of the reasons Apple Watch Sport Edition uses plain glass displays because they will be used outdoors most of the time. Another reason is the high hardness of sapphire and, as a result, the great fragility and susceptibility to destruction from impacts, which are inevitable when playing sports.
Testing methodology and conclusions for each section
The studies are conducted on the basis of comprehensive laboratory tests and extensive visual comparisons using reference test photos and patterns.
Display Resolution and PPI
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are equipped with Retina displays, which imply that when used from a normal distance, their pixels will be indistinguishable to the human eye with 100% vision. The iPhone 6 has an almost identical display, like the iPhone 6 Plus, with the only difference being that it has a lower resolution and a total number of pixels. it only has 1.0 MP versus 2.1 MP in the iPhone 6 Plus (and 2.1–3.7 MP like its competitors). This point should not be underestimated, since the total number of pixels is very important, especially for displaying photos and images with a resolution greater than the native resolution of the device. Identical high-resolution photos (more native) look better on the iPhone 6 Plus, but even resolution-appropriate photos look better on the larger iPhone 6 Plus. Most people are able to notice this difference and for them the iPhone 6 Plus will be the best choice.
Full sRGB gamut support and absolute color accuracy
It’s nice to see that the new iPhones returned to 100% sRGB support after it was reduced to 63% in the iPad mini Retina, released in 2013. Both iPhones very accurately convey the sRGB gamut, which is used to display the vast majority of digital content in cameras, HDTV, the Internet and computers.
To ensure absolute color accuracy, you need an accurate saturation scale and white point. Both iPhone 6s have accurate saturation with a gamma value of 2.22, however, they have a slightly shifted white point (towards blue) with a color temperature of 7.300K, which remains a very good result and it is better than in iPhone 5.
Screen brightness and daylight
Mobile displays often operate under relatively bright diffused light, which significantly reduces the color and contrast of the image, degrading the quality and making it difficult to read. In such cases, two things are very important: the brightness of the display and its lack of glare. the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have both. Their displays provide a brightness of over 550 cd / m², which is superior to the result of all the smartphones we have ever tested and significantly higher than the 2013 Full HD smartphones.
The reflection coefficient of the displays of both iPhones is 4.6%, which is very close to the result we have ever measured in a Full HD smartphone with an LCD display.
Excessive Display Features
The displays of all the iPhones we tested had almost the same characteristics of brightness, contrast, gamma, saturation, and overall calibration. This is very unusual and this can happen only in the case of a detailed automated calibration performed on each individual display in the factory.
But the most amazing thing is that all the characteristics exceed the declared by 10-13%. For iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the display brightness is indicated as 500 cd / m², in reality, it is 558 cd / m² for iPhone 6 and 566 cd / m² for iPhone 6 Plus. We have a “margin” of 12%. The same goes for the stated contrast, Apple points out 1: 1400 for the iPhone 6 and 1: 1300 for the iPhone 6 Plus, but in reality the real values are 1: 1591 and 1: 1451 respectively. That is about 13% of the margin in both models and the highest value among the ones we have ever measured in mobile displays.
Energy Efficiency Displays
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have roughly the same power consumption as the iPhone 5, which is not surprising, since all of their displays have low-temperature polycrystalline silicon boards, which are currently the most energy-efficient. They are 10% more efficient than all the LCDs we have ever tested, but the reason for this is the different pixel density (PPI).
Compared to OLED displays, LCDs are usually more energy efficient for images in which the content consists of white colors (for example, text display). OLEDs, on the contrary, perform well when displaying mixed content, since they are emission and their power consumption depends on the average signal level (image colors), while LCD displays consume the same amount of energy, regardless of signal level.
When displaying mixed content, including photos,s, movies, with an average signal level (about 50%), the Galaxy Note 4 OLED display was 21% more effective than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. On the other hand, when displaying content with a 100% signal level (white screen), the leader was the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, showing 45% better results.
Despite the fact that smartphones are an individual device and have only one “viewer”, the viewing angles of the displays are still important, because users often hold them at different angles. Usually this is an angle of about 30 degrees (or more if the device is on a table).
The viewing angles of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are significantly better than the iPhone 5 and any LCD displays we have ever tested. High contrast values and a small drop in brightness when changing viewing angles are especially important.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus provide very nice, nice, and accurate colors, and image quality. Despite the fact that the white point (intentionally) is slightly overestimated towards blue, the absolute color accuracy and saturation are at an excellent level.
Final score for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: stunning mobile displays
The primary goal of all DisplayMate Technologies benchmarks is to identify the manufacturer and display technologies that are at the top of the curve. Based on extensive tests and in-depth comprehensive analysis, we find out which of the manufacturers is leading, who is behind, who is improving technologies, and who (unfortunately) is slowing them down.
iPhone 6 Plus
Displays iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have the best displays among all the smartphones we have ever tested with LCD displays. At the same time, the iPhone 6 Plus is the second smartphone (both among LCD and OLED) in the entire history (since 2006), the display of which received “green” ratings (from “very good” to “excellent”) in all evaluated categories (for exception of the brightness drop indicator when changing viewing angles, which is typical for LCD displays). This in itself is an impressive achievement for the display.
iPhone 6 Plus caught up and broke records for all LCD displays in the following ways:
- Best maximum brightness
- Smallest reflection coefficient
- Highest contrast ratio
- Better contrast in daylight
- Color and gamma accuracy
- Image Contrast Accuracy
- The smallest drop in brightness, contrast and color when changing viewing angles
What iPhone 6 Plus display is good, but not perfect (the record among LCD displays is not broken), so it is in resolution (1920 × 1080 vs 2560 × 1440), PPI pixel density per inch (401 vs 538) and absolute color accuracy ( 3.1 JNCD vs 2.1 JNCD).
The iPhone 6 display is almost identical in features to the iPhone 6 Plus display, but has fewer pixels (1.0 MP), which is significantly lower than other popular smartphones (from 2.1. To 3.7 MP). And although having a density of 326 ppi at a resolution of 1334 × 750, its display qualifies as a Retina display, on the same iPhone 6 Plus display, but with a higher resolution, the picture looks much better. At the same time, not only images with a higher resolution look better on the iPhone 6 Plus than on the display, but having a “native” resolution.
But be that as it may, the iPhone 6 has a very good display and most users will be happy with it. However, it is surprising that Apple chose the “good” for it, instead of the “best”. Perhaps this was done intentionally in order to differentiate two of their products in this way, or perhaps to increase profits. With a 1920 × 1080 Full HD display, the iPhone 6 would be a real king.
Comparison of LCD displays iPhone 6 and iPhone 5 Plus, with OLED displays Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 4
LCD and OLED are two leading mobile display technologies. They differ significantly from each other, but each of them has advantages inherent only to them.
At the moment, the iPhone 6 Plus display is the best LCD display, and the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 displays are the best OLED displays. iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch display with a resolution of 1334 × 750 and a pixel density of 326 ppi is closest to the Galaxy S5 with a 5.2-inch display of 1920 × 1080 and a pixel density of 432 ppi. And the iPhone 6 Plus with a 1920 × 1080 display and a pixel density of 401 ppi corresponds to the Galaxy Note 4 with a 5.7-inch 2560 × 1440 display with a pixel density of 518 ppi.
- High maximum brightness with high signal
- No change in brightness at different signal levels
- Wide color gamut with quantum dots
- Small drop in brightness when changing viewing angles
- High energy efficiency with a high signal level
- Wider distribution in the world
Benefits of OLED
- Lower reflectance
- High maximum brightness with low signal
- A simpler procedure for increasing resolution and ppi
- Excellent black color and contrast indicators, tending to infinity
- Wide range of colors
- Small drop in brightness when changing viewing angles
- Greater display uniformity
- Shorter response time and motion blur
- High energy efficiency with low signal strength
Characteristics and main results of tests
Dr. Saunière and his team conducted a very large number of the most detailed tests, so I will give the results of only the main measurements.