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


View All Comments

  • BradleyTwo - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    My apologies if this has been disclosed already, but would it be possible to ask if Apple supplied these phones for testing?

    The reason I ask is that there is quite a long thread over at a popular Mac rumors forum where a number of us are concerned at the variable screen quality on the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max.

    Many of us, myself included, have received a suboptimal screen, in that it was a dim, murky yellow display (the less polite of us have called them p-stained), while others have received screens which are not uniformly lit.

    We have generally exchanged them to receive marginally better units, a few of which have been perfect, but a disappointing majority of the exchanges are often still below the apparently impressive characteristics of the displays discussed in the review.

    As this is not mentioned in the various iPhone 11 Pro reviews, a number of us have formed suspicions that Apple has cherry picked the best screens to supply to reviewers.

    A clarification whether Apple did indeed supply the units, or if they were bought off the shelf, would be much appreciated.
  • techsorz - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    Apple calibrates each device, this is what XDR essentially is. However this will create better uniformity across displays than make them as different as you say.

    Dim, murky yellow is probably caused by you not disabling true-tone and auto-brightness. Otherwhise you have a very faulty unit, as this display should be bright enough to nearly burn out your retina. (Exaggeration)

    Not uniformly lit could be an error, just return it in this case. Clearly Apple wouldn't supply faulty hardware to anyone on purpose, not testers or consumers.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    These are Apple review samples, but in our experience and testing they don't differ from commercial models. Reply
  • BradleyTwo - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    Thank you for the clarification. It would of course be negligent for Apple PR not to ensure reviewers receive fully tested units.

    I can assure you, however, that when it comes to the screen, the number of less than optimal units being sold at retail is probably higher than you might think. While these are most likely all within manufacturing tolerances for QC purposes, some of them I highly doubt Apple would send to reviewers.

    Oh well, at least the 14 day return period provides the opportunity to exchange. The "screen lottery" we call it.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - link

    Apple would have to be very misleading in providing fully sealed units. It's possible that some retail units perform worse but over the years we've never really encountered such a unit. Reply
  • s.yu - Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - link

    "It would of course be negligent for Apple PR not to ensure reviewers receive fully tested units."
    lol! Samsung Fold.
  • joms_us - Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - link

    It is pity though the so-called fastest SoC is not even close to these Android phones which are typically half the speed of fastest desktops. How do you expect people to believe A13 is faster than i-9900K or Ryzen 3950X? Where GeekBiased and jurassic SP2006? LOL




    I'd say cut the crap and show us real-world results not cherry-picked worthless numbers from benchmarking tools.
  • Quantumz0d - Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - link

    The fanboys man they are so blinded by reality, Apple was able to set a perfect world utopian dream for them. Can't fix stupid.

    I used to run Sultanxda kernel on my OP3 with SD820 processor the SD821 had higher clock speed over 820 but guess what OP screwed it up or Qualcomm didn't provide fix there was Clockspeed crashing at high freq so he disabled it entirely on both big and small. Guess what ? Benches took a massive hit. But UX ? Nope. Infact it improved a lot how is that possible ? I guess Spec and GB only matters right.

    Pixel 3 lagged badly due to the RAM issue no one mentions all say its beautiful wonderful amazing. Guess what ? 1080P 60FPS doesn't exist as an option and its auto as Google deems. 4XL no 4K60FPS because less storage. No press mentions.

    Coming to this garbage phone. iOS 13 whatever. Same icons, same springboard since 1.1.4 (I used it and JBed it) no desktop no customization to OS. All iPhones on the planet look same just like the brainwash here of ridiculous comparision of a GB (bullshit bench) and Spec score. Masterpiece of corporate koolaid.

    Why don't they mention how the Audio format which records is not in Lossless but in AAC crap unlike my V30 does with the 192KHz 24Bit option in FLAC with Limiter and Gain switch or the Video mode which had full manual Pro controls or even the camera having any Manual options. All ASUS, Samsung, LG, Sony, OnePlus, Huawei offer Pro camera forget Pro Video which only LG and Sony do. But No one cares, simpletons only care about A series marketing BS.

    The worst of all no Filesystem. $1000 device which doesn't even have a Filsystem usable by end user or has an option to install the apps off the AppStore. Nor any SD expansion slot to be prepared for emergency. But people are riling up and getting worked over the ARM masterrace LMAO with BGA MacBook Pro with 1 USB C port. Bonus is, to develop iOS app you must pay $99 yearly fee AND own that BGA Soldered KB/Touchpad/Battery/SSD macbook because XCode !!

    The abomination design. Display mutilation for 3 years while heralding best colors best display LOL. Very funny.

    And no 3.5mm jack. Because Apple wanted to make $5bn off revenue from AirPods (Higher than AMDs entire profit) guess what ? Less than 320kbps data rate LMAO. My LG V30 absolutely destroys this phone to oblivion with its ESS9218P DAC processor only found in Top motherboards from ASUS/GB/MSI. Even Vivo Nex decimates this garbage audio iPhone.

    Very very funny how even Qualcomm who spent billions of dollars in R&D for their Centriq ARM server processor by even relegating the teams which worked on post 810, full custom Kryo 820 series and dumping all it out because of the Broadcom M&A (Major beneficiary was Apple due to the Hock Tan connection with Apple, he would sell out all LTE patents) impact and no profit in the ARM server market, forget logistics, capex, ROI, x86 emulation AND 64Bit x86 Emulation legacy code with a massive scale of Linux community around.

    But we want ARM A series BGA processor which has world class Spec and GB score and beats Mainstream and HEDT LGA processors.

    Claps !
  • Anand2019 - Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - link

    Why are you so angry? Reply
  • Quantumz0d - Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - link

    Fed up of the unending talk of x86 vs ARM is one hell even AT forums cpu and oc subforum. Whole thread dedicated to worship this talk.

    Two Apple ruined smartphones by this policy of removing jack and features while raising the price to moon, Other companies also want greed by forcing people to buy BT earphones which sound garbage, horrid longevity (Need to charge everyday) pushing people to buy trash (Beats) thus making whole market saturated with Apple agenda. Look at Google Pixel 4 they also removed offering Dongle, Samsung, OnePlus. Same thing like Apple very greedy.

    Three destroyed the laptops with thin and light obsession. And soldered junk with less and less I/O.

    Finally 4th - this corporation is built on American values but is a stooge to cash from China thus enabling more totalitarianship while claiming Liberty on US land. Spineless positiin.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now