Now that Apple has finally implemented an OLED display on an iPhone with the arrival of the iPhone X, it's safe to say that the technology is now viable enough to hit the mainstream consumer tech market.
OLED screens on smartphones are nothing new, Samsung and LG have had these types of screens for years now with varying success.
What is OLED?
OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) is a display technology that uses layers of organic thin films between two conductors. Since the pixels in OLED displays emit their own light, they don't require backlighting like LCD screens.
This makes for thinner screens, crisper blacks, higher brightness, more vivid colors, less power consumption and faster refresh rates, resulting in an enhanced overall user experience.
What are the OLED drawbacks?
But there are also some significant drawbacks to OLED technology.
The first is that these screens cost more to make, which means consumers may wind up absorbing that cost in the final sales price of the cellphone. However, with OLED production ramping up, costs should go down rapidly in the next few years.
OLED screens were known to have limited lifetimes and may lose color saturation over time, which could leave consumers with a screen that looks dull. Advancements in OLED production techniques have fixed the issue on newer OLED displays.
However, there's still one OLED drawback that still exists. Gadget manufacturers openly acknowledge this issue and are warning consumers about it.
Lingering screen images
I'm talking about OLED display burn-in, which is a condition where permanent traces of images are retained on the screen even when it refreshes or even when it's turned off.
The iPhone X's OLED screen may be the most beautiful screen on an iPhone ever but it still has this problem. Same with Google's Pixel 2 phone and the Samsung Galaxy S8 line - basically any gadget that uses OLED screen technology.
In fact, Apple has published an advisory about using the iPhone X's Super Retina display and it warns users about potential OLED burn-in screen problems. According to Apple:
"With extended long-term use, OLED displays can also show slight visual changes. This is also expected behavior and can include 'image persistence' or 'burn-in,' where the display shows a faint remnant of an image even after a new image appears on the screen.
"This can occur in more extreme cases such as when the same high contrast image is continuously displayed for prolonged periods of time. We’ve engineered the Super Retina display to be the best in the industry in reducing the effects of OLED 'burn-in.'"
Apple did not disclose what engineering techniques they employed to reduce the effects of OLED burn-in but if you have an iPhone X, it's better to avoid displaying high-contrast static images on your screen for a long time.
Google has also acknowledged that OLED screen burn-in issues can affect its new Pixel 2 XL smartphones. In response, the company released a security patch on Monday that introduced screen burn-in protection.
With Google's Pixel 2 XL patch, the navigation buttons on the bottom of the screen will automatically dim out after a short period of time to prevent burn-in.
According to Google's official statement about the Pixel 2 update:
"These features have been carefully designed so as not to detract from the user experience. Since all OLED displays experience some degree of decay over time, we’ll continue to make enhancements which maximize the life of your Pixel screen."
What do you think? Do you have an OLED display on your smartphone and have you noticed any burn-in issues yet? Drop us a comment!
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