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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  • Jon Tseng - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    Nice! Any additional thoughts on the U1 UWB chip. I guess not much you can do with it yet but to me the possibilities are intriguing... Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    I think Apple has more plans with it in the future, but yes right now it doesn't do very much. Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    Definitely think it's getting the hardware ready for the AR glasses. Hyper precise location tracking just by putting your phone down on a desk and having the U1 chips communicate. Reply
  • Diogene7 - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    I am dreaming of that the Apple U1 UWB chip could be used in a not too distant future (2020 / 2021) for precise spatial locasization for at (short) distance wireless charging : by knowing where exactly in space an Apple device is, Apple might be able to dynamically and efficiently focus wireless energy transfer maybe through wireless resonant charging (Airfuel) for an iPhone or through RF charging like Energous / Ossia for recharging Apple Airpods from an iPhone...

    I think I am dreaming, but just hope that Apple is working hard to make wireless power at a short distance a reality : I would dream to be able to drop my iPhone anywhere on my bedside table, and that it automatically recharge during the night from a base station up to a distance of 1,5 foot / 50cm : it would bring sooooo much more convenience than Qi wireless charging...
    Reply
  • patel21 - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    Man, you are lazy. Reply
  • Diogene7 - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    @patel21 : How many times do you still plug an Ethernet cable to your laptop to surf on internet instead of using WIFI ? WIFI is simply more convenient...

    Similarly, wireless charging at a distance (up to ~ 1,5 foot (50cm)) would be so much more convenient than to have to plug a cable to recharge a device

    It also true for Internet of Things (IoT) devices : tjere seems to be some studies showing that consumers stop using many IoT devices that work on batteries because they have to change the batteries

    I strongly believe that wireless charging at a short distance is a requirement for the sale of IoT sensors to really take off because managing 10s or 100s or more of IoT devices with batteries is not really manageable by consumers in the long run...
    Reply
  • Molbork - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    And you just halved the power efficiency of your laptop and devices. EM transmission power is 1/r^2, checking your laptop could cost you 2-3x more than a direct connection at longer distances. Reply
  • Henk Poley - Friday, October 18, 2019 - link

    I wonder if they'll do things like heart- and breathing-rate measurement, and counting of people around you (how many hearts). Such as was demonstrated for radar based baby monitoring. Fairly low power, a 'cigarette pack' size device attached to a baby cot could work for half a year by only periodically measuring.

    Could be interesting for meetings, that your phone knows everyone has arrived, people were agitated, etc.
    Reply
  • Adonisds - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    Why is it required less than double the power to produce twice the display brightness? Reply
  • michael2k - Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - link

    Displays aren't actually perfectly transparent, and the light generating devices might absorb some of the energy instead of transmitting it.

    Increasing transparency is one way to produce more brightness with less energy.
    Reducing the amount of energy absorbed by the LEDs (and thus transformed into heat) is another way to produce more brightness with less energy.
    Changing the LEDs basic chemistry to more efficiently transform electricity into light is a third way.

    Fundamentally less waste heat, more light.
    Reply

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