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Apple on OLED burn in and off angle hue change: About the Display on iPhone X (apple.com)
49 points by tambourine_man on Nov 5, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 48 comments

The off-angle thing is definitely noticeable; it gets bluer the more you rotate the phone.

However, I've only actually seen it happen when intentionally rotating the screen beyond anything I would normally do, to see the blue effect. Not really a factor in day-to-day use for me, or, I suspect, most people.

The vague warning on burn-in sounds a little bit alarming. Couple years back, I had a MacBook Pro that had that well-known "image persistence" defect and that drove me nuts. I hated and quickly sold that machine.

Having said that I have not seen anything like that yet on my talking poo phone.

(I should also probably add that this is by far the best screen I have ever seen in my life... to the point that I am a little less satisfied with my 5K desktop monitor and iPad Pro screen than I was last week :-P )

What's a talking poo phone?

It was part of the official Apple keynote presentation of the iPhone X. Apple's SVP of Software Engineering demonstrated how you can record your face as a talking poo emoji using the iPhone X:


I'm speculating a Mr Hankey (South Park) reference to the major advance of an animated poo emoji in the latest Apple phone release.

Thanks. I don't watch South Park so I couldn't get the reference.

There is just no way I would accept ‘burn in’ as a ‘normal’ part of the tech, on such an expensive device.

Rather than just whining about it, I’ve simply done the only thing I can do and not bought the latest iPhone. An infinitesimal drop in a near-trillion dollar ocean.

I really don't understand why this hasn't been a complaint at all on any other phone that utilizes an OLED display but now, all of sudden, once Apple has an OLED display it's suddenly a deal-breaker. This is craziness.

Buying Apple products is not something a lot of us would do if the decision was purely rational.

Seems very unsuitable for using Waze or other nav apps then, typically an app that keeps your display at relatively high brightness for a long period of time with partially static content.

I suppose for Pokemon Go, but who still plays that anyway.

I have been using Navigation Apps on my AMOLED (Pixel) all the time and have no issues.

Such apps require redesigning the interface for OLED. Specifically, black background and auto-hide for everything that's not important. If there are visible static parts, they should be low-contrast and moved around from time to time.

I believe iOS does the pixel shifting automatically.

Such apps are mentioned in the article, they suggest lowering your brightness a little while using them.

That’s no good, navigation requires high brightness during daytime.

Also not good for gaming I guess. Most UI elements in a game are left unchanged for a long time.

Burn in is a problem with all OLED displays, like it was with plasmas.

Having said that, the screens that I use the most are all OLEDs and they are amazing displays, the best displays I ever had.

If you are careful there is no such a problem. It is going to be a big problem if you use the screen outdoors because you will have to ramp up the display intensity. This is the reason Apple recommends using the ambient light sensor, because most people are indoors most of the time, with orders of magnitude less light intensity for the screen to compete.

And being outdoors there is a significant difference living in Madrid,Spain or Saudi Arabia with more than 300 extremely sunny days per year, or living in Frankfurt or London, when most of the time is cloudy.

We should have to wait to other screen technologies for "having it all". Looks like Samsung real electroluminescent QLED will be as good as OLED without the problems, but there is a ton of work that needs to be done. I believe it is remarkable how far displays have gone.

I had a hight definition 19'' CRT that costed 20.000 euros back at the time, that weighted more than 30 kilos. When I see people dissatisfied with current tech...

Are there more details about what Samsung is doing? AFAIK qled is just a marketing name for LED backlit LCD (= same old) with a name that looks similar to OLAD to confuse people into thinking they get something like OLED.

And sure the 19" CRT was 20k not 2k?

what is the cause of burn in? is this a fundamental problem with oleds or will it go away with as the technology matures? thats what i really want to know because oled is next in line for dominance in display technology and that would suck if it came with burn in.

off the top of my head, i would say that the burn in is caused by degradation of one of the color elements in the leds. the blue elements were a problem for a long time -- they would degrade very quickly. i would guess that the blue elements of this display begin to lose their integrity much faster than the other elements, so if you leave those blue elements on for a long period of time you will cause those elements to go bad and then from then on you have a pattern of burned out blue elements, causing burn in. so if this is true, apps that are meant to display bright static images for long periods of time could do everything in shades of red and green, leaving the blue elements off completely.

this will also hopefully mean that all the cool screen savers from the 90s will be given new life, and maybe we can even have a new renaissance of screen savers

It does a appear to be a fundamental problem with OLED displays. AFAIK, every OLED screen ever made has burn-in issues, and every manufacturer of OLED screens takes care to explicitly exclude display burn-in from the warranty terms.

I made the mistake of buying an OLED TV to use as a computer monitor last year, and today there are multiple areas of the screen where burn-in marks are visible from things like the taskbar, window title bars, window separators from tiled arrangement, etc.

It's a real shame because OLED has otherwise terrific properties as a display technology, and looks downright mind-blowing in a dark room where the infinite contrast from the lack of a backlight shines through. But because of the burn-in issues I've experienced, I can't in good faith recommend it as a long-term investment for use cases where you're likely to have static images on the screen for prolonged periods of time (smartphone and computer displays).

Anyone aware of other promising display technologies that can achieve the same levels of contrast without the downsides of the burn-in risks associated with OLED?

That's a great point, and I'm glad my HTPC screen was a Samsung SUHD over an LG OLED now. The Samsung's uniformity and edge bleed isn't great but I think I'd take that over the permanent burn in I'd inevitably get from eg Win10' screensaver not kicking in.

I noticed the burn in on my button bar of my Samsung S8, and finally understood why they didn't let me have a fully black navbar. I had installed a custom Navbar app to make it black; now that area is lighter than the rest.. fortunately not too be yet, but I'll be careful about apps like Google Auto going forward.

Based on the photographs of screens that I have seen, this seems to be true image persistence, meaning that e.g. a blue subpixel being left on for a long time will not immediately turn completely off when instructed to. That’s the only explanation I can think of for photographs I’ve seen of color images remaining (with the same colors, just fainter) after the screen was instructed to switch to solid grey or black.

If my impression is correct, it must be a different phenomenon than the one you’re describing (which I’ve also always heard stttributed to OLEDs), where subpixels will output less light over their lifetimes (and perhaps the dimming-over-time curve is different for different colors).

I can imagine that burn-in could be corrected for, per-subpixel, in software, periodically with a calibration step using a external scanner that measures the altered voltage response of each subpixel.

In software it would boil down to one final compositing step to compensate.

> In software it would boil down to one final compositing step to compensate.

Is this a technique that's used often? I'm curious what the cost of such a step would be. How much lag would it cause?

The lag would surely be low single digit ms, unnoticeable. Modern GPUs are really good at compositing big images as games and window managers do it routinely.

Wouldn't that require quite a lot of processing power? Effectively you're logging the power to each subpixel, for ever.

Your idea would indeed take a lot of power and probably suffer from precision issues. What GP was talking about was a set up where you would be able to take a picture of your phone's screen and then overlay a transparent inverse image to counteract the burn in. A single overlay would be child's play for the X's GPU, and you could put scanners in Apple stores. This would have the added benefit of getting customers back into the stores every few months.

Why would Apple sell a phone that requires bringing it back to the Apple Store every months to correct a problem that no previous model of iPhone developed? This idea is completely nuts.

Why would Apple put a screen with this issue on their most premium phone ever? They've acknowledged the problem, and I would like a way to fix it when it develops. I'll be cranky if their only offer is to replace the screen when it could be done cheaper (a high dpi scanner and image overlay).

It is probably maintenance that only rarely/never has to be done, like changing a battery.

That might work. However, it would also have the effect of making the entire screen less bright. OLED burn-in is the opposite of CRT burn-in - pixels that have been used more than others shine less brightly. To compensate for that you'd need to drop the brightness of every pixel down to the worst affected pixels. Perhaps you could attempt to increase the power to 'burnt-in' pixels, but that would presumably only compound the problem and reduce their lifespan.

Why not track the cumulative amount of R, G, and B activation for each pixel and then model a predicted burn-in mask based on the actual usage?

Because of askvictor's point. Logging every single pixel value would suck down battery life equivalent to recording your screen every moment it is on. If you stored cumulative pixel activations in an array (like I would think of doing), you are going to overflow an integer value very quickly, or run into floating point issues. If you stored it as a video or in a DB, you are going to have weeks worth of video that need stored.

Sampling at a very small fraction of the number of pixels would suffice for long-term statistics. Say one pseudo-randomly chosen pixel per second. An exponential average would pretty much eliminate storage growth.

it would work if the burn in remains constant but I'd assume the affected area gradually changes intensity with time.

It's not burn in, it's burn out, used parts of the screen get dimmer. My Samsung notes all had brighter notifications bars because they were usually black and unused.

In portrait mode, a video would be brighter in this section. Plasma had the same problem. The pixels age and dim since they're the light source. There's no backlight. Please stop calling it burn in.

I used Galaxy Nexus which had OLED too (old, from 2011). Used it for 4 years, not seen any visible permanent burn-ins. There were temporary image persistence, noise and vertical lines (especially when using outside during winter), but display was great overall.

The first thing I think of as a burn-in risk is the ever-present bottom touch indicator. It is a black strip that sort of resembles a mic or speaker grill at the bottom of the screen and it is always drawn. Does anyone know if that will burn in, or is Apple doing something different with it in software or hardware?

The status bar elements also seem like a large risk, as some pixels tend to not change.

I also can definitely notice a ghosting effect while reading and scrolling text at the same time.

Still waiting for my iPhone X to come in but from reading their info, they say burn in is a result of brightness + duration. From that it seems that the black strip will not be an issue.

Black elements absolutely burned in on the S7 edge my work has for app testing. And this is a device that, obviously, isn't even anyone's daily phone, nor does it have any reason to be "left on" for super long periods of time when it's not in someones hand. Those areas end up brighter than the rest of the screen, rather than darker. It's sort of a reverse ghosting.

I ran one of those "burn in fixer" solid color pattern apps for almost 24 hours(which i know have hit or miss efficacy) and it subdued it, but it's still very clearly visible.

I don't like the sound of this at all. OLED has a design limitation in viewing angles? Whatever. The panel has a limited lifespan if you use it normally (with Apples static elements like the battery indicator)? I'll wait for the next version, thanks.

I use my Apple Watch since day they launched, every day, a lot of times per day I use them. Zero issues with the screen and screen is amazing. I think in iPhone Apple will be able to create OLED display not worse than in Watch.

The return of screensavers?

For smart phones that's usually not an issue. You want the screen to turn off and save power, not display another moving image.

But you could imagine that Apple records sub pixel usage and calibrates the display accordingly, so any sub pixels that are over-exposed to could be calibrated accordingly. But that would also mean some color distortion.

I favor IPS panels any day over the ill-fated burn-in-friendly OLED panels. IPS also has no off-angle hue, and a better color range. Only HDR (very black and white parts) looks better on OLED.

A bit OT, but a question for those who have OLED TVs, using them to watch movies/shows etc: is burn-in a problem, or not because images are always changing there?

The typical use case for a TV is fine, since the images are constantly changing. An iPhone has a static image by default (your home screen and lock screen). You can have a 3D effect for the background, but the app icons stay in one place.


HAHAHAHA a thousand dollar phone that suffers screen burn-in?

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