Everyone is Talking About the Perfect Display (in the iPhone, that is)

Two weeks ago, I raised the question of whether Apple showed enough with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to take the smartphone sales leadership away from Samsung, but I had no idea what would unfold in the coming days. First, Samsung had a severe issue with its batteries leading to a large recall and replacement campaign, while Apple surprised everyone with a LCD display that looked so much better on the second look. As a matter of fact the LCD display has been praised as the perfect display that shows colors so accurately that there is no distinction from perfect.

All of this sounds like a great marketing story, when, as a matter of fact, this is no marketing talk at all. What Apple said was “this is the best iPhone we ever made”. Yes, they mentioned the wide color gamut and how beautiful the images looked on the display, but there was no mention of color accuracy. They left that little item of news to be discovered by people outside of Apple. Now that is brave marketing. Actually ingenious I would say.

if you want to get the details of the iPhone 7 shootout read also the Display Daily from Steve Sechrist for the display details (iPhone7 New Groundbreaking Display The Best News That Wasn’t ). I will be focusing on the consequences for the display industry in the coming years.

If we can make a ‘perfect’ display, why isn’t everyone? This question is the direct consequence of someone actually making the perfect display, As Ray pointed out, the display is not perfect in every aspect and the proponents of OLED displays are very keen to point out that the iPhone 7 display is the best smartphone display with the exclusion of the Samsung Galaxy 7 OLED display. A point well taken. Apple is now in a peculiar position. After showing a perfect color display can they actually go back to a less color perfect OLED display just to close the gap to Samsung in other characteristics?

We would expect Apple to switch to OLED once someone can make an OLED display with perfect color. This leaves the question open of when that will be? So far we haven’t heard talk of perfect color, contrast and luminance accuracy in any OLED display. Does that mean we actually do not know what is the better technology now? Given that the LCD technology has had a few decades head start to make a perfect display, I believe that OLEDs will be closing this gap in the not so distant future. The question is who will take the crown? Apple, Samsung or someone else?

Then there is also the question of supply. Given the strong leadership of Samsung in small OLED displays, it would make sense that Apple will work with Samsung for their iPhone OLED requirements. If that is the case how would Apple be able to show a perfect OLED display in the iPhone X without Samsung showing the same in their Galaxy X? I would expect that there will be a lot of interesting discussions taking place between Samsung and Samsung Display. How far can Samsung Display go in protecting a customer that is not Samsung?

So, if Apple has a perfect display in their smartphone, who is next? Considering the number of displays used by Apple I would expect that other manufacturers are following right behind them as far as the display panel is concerned. When it comes to software implementation it may take a little longer for Android-based phones to achieve similar results.

Just fast forward a few more years and everyone has the perfect display, retina and all. If everyone has the perfect display, what does the display matter at this point? Well, there is also Rec 2020 and HDR to think about; I guess I won’t run out of topics after all. – NH