Display Measurement

When it comes to displays, last year's iPhone XS didn’t showcase any major display changes compared to the original iPhone X, as the two phones seemingly shared the same display panel. In contrast to that situation, for the new iPhone 11 Pros, Apple is advertising using a newer generation panel which brings notable improvements with it.

In terms of dimensions or resolution, there’s no visible changes on the new panels, and you’d have to look under the hood to see what has actually changed. The most notable improvement this year is a switch in the OLED emitter material that’s been used by Samsung in producing the new screen. The new generation emitter was first introduced in the display panel of the Galaxy S10, and to my knowledge it has subsequently only been used in the Note10 series as well as the new OnePlus 7T (regular version only). The iPhone 11 Pro phones now join this limited group of devices, and the biggest improvements to the user experience will be higher maximum brightness levels as well as improved power efficiency.

The regular iPhone 11, on the other hand does not seem to have changed much from the iPhone XR. It remains a relatively lower resolution LCD screen, although its display characteristics remain excellent.

We move on to the display calibration and fundamental display measurements of the iPhone 11 screens. As always, we thank X-Rite and SpecraCal, as our measurements are performed with an X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer, with the exception of black levels which are measured with an i1Display Pro colorimeter. Data is collected and examined using SpectraCal's CalMAN software.

Display Measurement - Maximum Brightness 

In terms of maximum brightness, Apple has advertised that the new iPhone 11 Pro’s can reach up to 800nits of brightness displaying regular content. We’re able to verify this, as our 11 Pro Max sample reached 807 nits while the 11 pro reached 790 nits. Consequently, it’s quite odd to see that the LCD-based iPhone 11 is now the lowest brightness device in the line-up. As always, Apple doesn’t make use of any brightness boost mechanism and thus allows its peak brightness to be achieved in any scenario.

Apple also advertises that the screen does go up to 1200 peak brightness in HDR content, however I haven’t been able to go ahead to verify this in our current test suite.

 
SpectraCal CalMAN
               iPhone 11: 
        iPhone 11 Pro: 
iPhone 11 Pro Max: 

In the greyscale tests, all the iPhones perform extremely well, as expected. The Pro models do showcase a tendency to have slightly too strong red levels, so their color temperature is ever so slightly too warm. This characteristic diminishes the higher in brightness we go on the Pro models. The iPhone 11 has a weakness in the greens, so its color temperature is a above the 6500K white point target.

Gamma levels are excellent and target levels of 2.2. The Pro models are veering off towards higher gamma at higher picture levels, something that isnt as prominently exhibited by the iPhone 11. I’m not sure if this is due to a non-linear APL compensation of the phone screen during our measurement patterns, or if there’s an actual issue of the calibration.


iPhone 11 / SpectraCal CalMAN
iPhone 11 Pro / SpectraCal CalMAN
iPhone 11 Pro Max / SpectraCal CalMAN

Display Measurement - Greyscale Accuracy

The dE2000 deviation scores for the Pro models this year are slightly worse than what we saw in last year’s XS devices, however it’s still firmly among the best in class devices out there in the market, and you’d be hard pressed to perceive the small deviations. The iPhone 11 oddly enough does fare a bit worse off than the iPhone XR due to the larger deviations in color balance.


iPhone 11 / SpectraCal CalMAN

In the sRGB color space (default device content), the iPhone 11 performs extremely well with only minor shifts in hue in the greens.


iPhone 11 Pro / SpectraCal CalMAN

iPhone 11 Pro Max / SpectraCal CalMAN

In the same test, both the Pro models are showcasing exemplary accuracy.

Display Measurement - Saturation Accuracy - sRGB dE2000

The Pro models are just a bit worse off than the XS models of last year, but again these are among the most accurate displays you’ll find out there – mobile devices or not. The iPhone 11 is still excellent, although showing a bit larger deviation compared to the XR.


iPhone 11 / SpectraCal CalMAN


iPhone 11 Pro / SpectraCal CalMAN


iPhone 11 Pro Max / SpectraCal CalMAN

Display Measurement - Saturation Accuracy - Display-P3

For Display P3 content, the iPhone 11 Pro models showcase the best saturation accuracies we’ve ever measured on any display. This time around, the iPhone 11 is in line with the XR.


iPhone 11 / SpectraCal CalMAN

In the Gretag-MacBeth test of common tones, the only real issue of the iPhone 11 is the whites which had showcased a weakness of greens. Notice how the luminosity of the tones are essentially absolutely perfect.


iPhone 11 Pro / SpectraCal CalMAN


iPhone 11 Max Pro / SpectraCal CalMAN

Display Measurement - Gretag–Macbeth Colour Accuracy

Overall in terms of the color calibration and screen quality, the iPhones are the very best in the industry. There’s really nothing I can say about them as they’re class-leading in every regard.

The iPhone 11’s LCD screen isn’t for my taste due to the lower resolution, which frankly does bother me, and it certainly doesn’t have the same contrast characteristics as the Pro models. So while colors are still extremely good, it remains a compromise in 2019 when essentially every manufacturer has moved on to adopt OLED screens.

Display Power Measurements - Generational Improvements

Naturally, we didn’t want to finish the display evaluation section without verifying Apple’s claims about the new improved power efficiency of the iPhone 11 Pro panels.

Comparing the three generations of identical format iPhones, we again see that the display power consumption between the original iPhone X and the XS didn’t differ much at all. Plotting the new iPhone 11 Pro in the chart however we immediately see the difference in the new generation.

At equal brightness levels, Apple has indeed been able to improve the power efficiency of the panel by 15% - just as Apple’s marketing described it. We also see how the new panel expands past the brightness limits of the X and XS, reaching 800nits. This does come at a cost however, as the improved power efficiency isn’t able to completely make up for the larger brightness increase, so the maximum power consumption of the screen displaying full white does rise from 2.6W to 3.1W.

GPU Performance & Power Battery Life - A Magnitude Shift
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  • HammerStrike - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    FYI, while al other new models are rated IP68, the pro’s are listed as having a maximum submerged depth of 4 meters for 30 minutes, vs 2 for the non-pro model. Your spec comparison on the first page lists them all at 2 meters. Reply
  • colonelclaw - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    I think my perfect phone right now would be all of the 11 Pro's hardware shoved into the body the size of the iPhone 5, but obviously with the full-front screen. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be much will amongst any of the premium phone manufacturers in wanting stuff to be smaller these days :(
    iPhone 11 Pro Nano anyone?
    Reply
  • p1esk - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    Yes, I’d love a smaller iPhone. Reply
  • nirolf - Thursday, October 17, 2019 - link

    Smaller and lighter! I'm holding on to my 7 until they release something similar in size. Reply
  • Eliadbu - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    no iphone 11 pro but *rumors* say there is new Iphone SE2 for 399$ with a13 and 3GB of ram
    but I doubt it will be full front screen or AMOLED screen. but imo it will sell like hot buns from the oven. there is huge market for budget phone and a new iphone SE with same SOC as flagship, plenty of ram and IOS for 399$ is really compelling I know many people just lurk for used\old gen Iphones just so they can get Iphone for low price, this phone will draw the masses.
    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Friday, October 18, 2019 - link

    unfortunately the rumors seem to paint Apple as being more interested in the price aspect than the size aspect. Like it will be more modern innards in an iphone 8 body. Which misses a great deal about what I liked in the original SE. Reply
  • Eliadbu - Saturday, October 19, 2019 - link

    I see your point, but you need to understand the current market. Iphone sales and other premium flagship are declining while budget phones are on the rise especially in certain markets where most people can't afford expensive phone so they look for the best phone they can get at the budget lineup. Now there are cheaper options than 399$ but arguably no better options. Apple knows it loses huge market share by not creating option for that price point. Also if they put a13 in that phone it will be overkill. They should either use older chips that cost less now like the a12 or a11 which both are more than enough for budget phones, or they can use smaller more power efficient a13 that would cost less and put the money on newer display design or more cameras which will be better selling point than using a13, imo. Reply
  • Srkifs2021 - Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - link

    Guess you got it now with the 12 and mini! Reply
  • Oyster - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    I believe it's time for AT to really upgrade its website to be able to make use of the full width of modern displays. It's excruciating to go through these reviews and click through each camera sample without being able to compare things side-by-side. Even the performance graphs are so cramped. I hope an upgrade is on the way... Reply
  • Raqia - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    "Nevertheless, I do question why Apple decided to be so aggressive in terms of power this generation."

    I imagine it has something to do with the much bigger battery they put into the phone; current draw wearing down the battery isn't as much of a concern when it is larger. The little cores are far more impressive this year with roughly A73-75 levels of performance at much better efficiency. They seemed to have listened to users by making the phone a bit chunkier in exchange for a bigger battery.

    The inefficient modem is still a sore spot this year which should hopefully be addressed next year with the inclusion of Qualcomm parts and IP. More importantly, the impact of a closed ecosystem with management who care more about profit than users is being felt by real customers in places like Hong Kong or vendors like EPIC who have avenues other than the official OS vendor sponsored app store on Android. Regulators should force Apple to offer an open store API for third parties to set up store fronts so that customers could have more choice based on pricing, quality, and reputation.
    Reply

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