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Other Has Apple solved the PWM issues on new upcoming iPhone 12 models?

bluecoast

macrumors 65816
Nov 7, 2017
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We can only hope.

For those of you who think PWM is a myth - some really do experience it (including me).

When I look at an OLED iPhone I instantly get the same sort of feel Like someone suddenly shining a bright flashlight in your eyes at night i.e. it hurts (with no lack of vision though).
 

BuggyGT

macrumors member
Oct 1, 2019
94
81
Brooklyn, NY
Impossible to know at this time if Apple will implement some type of fix for PWM like the OnePlus phones. OnePlus have added an DC dimming feature, you can check out comparison of it at the video below (test starts at around 1:30). It doesn't get rid of it completely however it does help.

 

now i see it

macrumors 603
Jan 2, 2002
5,827
11,962
no one saw any kind of flicker, stutter

PWM "flickering" isn't normal flickering like you can easily see from a flourescent light bulb or CRT screen. Those things flicker at 60hz- easy to see.

The PWM flickering frequency used on iPhone OLED screens is 4X higher (faster) at 240Hz. If you hold the screen still and stare at it without moving your eyes or scrolling, the rapid ON/OFF flickering of the LED pixels can't be detected.

But for those of you who claim not to be able to see it (the flickering PWM strobe light effect) there's an easy way to REALLY see it.
Here's how:

In a dark room or outside when it's dark, set the screen brightness of an iPhone OLED screen to 50% brightness or lower. For this test, the lower the better (to see the flickering).

Launch the Notes app and open a blank note so that the screen is showing all white.

With a good grip on the phone (so you don't drop it) stare off into the distance at some distant point and keep your eyes steady. Don't look directly at the phone and don't move your eyes.

Now swing the iPhone (held tight in your hand) quickly in front of your field of vision but continue to stare forward in the distance- not moving your eyes.
The faster you move the iPhone, the easier it is to see the flickering.

As the iPhone screen swings back & forth across your field of view, pay attention to what it's doing in your peripheral vision. You're not looking at it but noticing it.

You'll CLEARLY see the strobe light effect of PWM as the screen flickers on & off while the phone is moving.

Granted, nobody uses an iPhone by swinging it in front of their eyes, BUT every time you move your eyes while staring at it normally, (looking at pics, reading text) the same effect happens since your eyes move very quickly. It's very subtle, but for those of us with highly perceptive vision- the strobing is very bothersome and soon becomes fatiguing and painful.

Unfortunately... Once you become aware of PWM flickering- you can't not see it ever again- you'll always notice it to some degree.

If the "swing an iPhone in the dark" test is done with an LCD iPhone, the light from the screen will become just a blurred line of light as the phone swings by instead of a flashing beacon
 
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Stuey3D

macrumors 6502a
Jul 8, 2014
605
682
Northamptonshire, United Kingdom

Look at 2:31 in this video the XS Max is next to the XR and you can see the PWM strobing the screen on the XS max, whilst most cant see it with our eyes (I know I can't) it is that strobing that we are feeling when we have the headaches.

Generally when the iPhone is dim you are in a dark room so your eyes are dilated to let maximum light in, now imagine holding a device a few inches from your face that is strobing a 600-1000nit light into your dilated eyes. Most people don't have issues with it, but some of us are more sensitive to this. LCD and other displays the PWM frequency is much higher so its happening too fast for it to be an issue, but the iPhone OLED does it at 240hz and its that lower frequency that is the issue.
 

The Man

macrumors 6502a
Jul 7, 2004
596
199
Generally when the iPhone is dim you are in a dark room so your eyes are dilated to let maximum light in, now imagine holding a device a few inches from your face that is strobing a 600-1000nit light into your dilated eyes. Most people don't have issues with it, but some of us are more sensitive to this. LCD and other displays the PWM frequency is much higher so its happening too fast for it to be an issue, but the iPhone OLED does it at 240hz and its that lower frequency that is the issue.
That's why I hope the iPad won't go OLED and instead goes mini- and micro-LED. I'm too sensitive to flickering/strobing. I don't get headaches but my eyes become very tired and I fall asleep. Happened once during a theatre play. They used strobing lights. I was gone. Woke up near the end. Awkward.
 
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Moonjumper

macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2009
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Lincoln, UK
That's why I hope the iPad won't go OLED and instead goes mini- and micro-LED. I'm too sensitive to flickering/strobing. I don't get headaches but my eyes become very tired and I fall asleep. Happened once during a theatre play. They used strobing lights. I was gone. Woke up near the end. Awkward.

Hopefully Apple won't have PWM on miniLED or microLED if they go that route, although some of their current LED backlit LCD Macs apparently do, so I wouldn't hold out too much hope for that being the solution.
 

The Man

macrumors 6502a
Jul 7, 2004
596
199
Hopefully Apple won't have PWM on miniLED or microLED if they go that route, although some of their current LED backlit LCD Macs apparently do, so I wouldn't hold out too much hope for that being the solution.
Nooooo! So there might be a bleak future for us? Apple has mostly avoided PWM on their laptops and iPads over the years. I would hate not to be able to buy a Mac or iPad or iPhone in the future because of the PWM.
 
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Moonjumper

macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2009
2,363
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Lincoln, UK
Nooooo! So there might be a bleak future for us? Apple has mostly avoided PWM on their laptops and iPads over the years. I would hate not to be able to buy a Mac or iPad or iPhone in the future because of the PWM.

According to this list, various models of iPad and Apple laptops do have PWM, but mostly at a much higher frequency that the OLED iPhones, so far fewer people have issues with them. Note the iMac Pro, an expensive computer with a 5K screen has PWM at a lower frequency than the phones. Thankfully my 2015 iMac 27" with a similar screen does not.

So I at least hope the frequency is increased significantly. I currently use a 4" iPhone SE that I have had for a long time as there is no longer an iPhone that small, so it is not an issue for me at the moment. But the rumoured 5.4" might be close in size and tempt me, so I hope there is a change. I spent extra money on a monitor to use with my previous MacBook Pro because I wanted one that was flicker-free (i.e. No PWM), which was difficult to find at the time. It is something very much worth having.

Apple products are premium products and should not have PWM, something that only exists to keep costs down.
 
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MrMiyagi1

macrumors regular
Original poster
Dec 22, 2019
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Look at 2:31 in this video the XS Max is next to the XR and you can see the PWM strobing the screen on the XS max, whilst most cant see it with our eyes (I know I can't) it is that strobing that we are feeling when we have the headaches.

Generally when the iPhone is dim you are in a dark room so your eyes are dilated to let maximum light in, now imagine holding a device a few inches from your face that is strobing a 600-1000nit light into your dilated eyes. Most people don't have issues with it, but some of us are more sensitive to this. LCD and other displays the PWM frequency is much higher so its happening too fast for it to be an issue, but the iPhone OLED does it at 240hz and its that lower frequency that is the issue.

This is a very good video you put up to show the pwm. I definitely notice it myself on this video.
 

tonybarnaby

macrumors 68020
Dec 3, 2017
2,223
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I feel bad for all the people seeing their eye doctor and not realizing the issue was their phone. If you go to the dr for unexplained headaches, that will cost a ton and require multiple appointments.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
34,704
36,167
I feel bad for all the people seeing their eye doctor and not realizing the issue was their phone. If you go to the dr for unexplained headaches, that will cost a ton and require multiple appointments.

I thought about that. [I don’t suffer from PWM], but in terms of troubleshooting, you almost have to backtrack to find out when the problem first occurred, and what was the person doing that leads to the
worst symptoms with headaches/nausea or any other side effects. The Problem you’re going to have, some people might associate PWM with stress, lack of sleep, ect, therefore, it makes the problem all that much more difficult to diagnose.

In order for the individual that is suffering from PWM, they first have to fully understand what it is and how long has the problem been occurring.
 

jm31828

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2015
469
239
Bothell, Washington
According to this list, various models of iPad and Apple laptops do have PWM, but mostly at a much higher frequency that the OLED iPhones, so far fewer people have issues with them. Note the iMac Pro, an expensive computer with a 5K screen has PWM at a lower frequency than the phones. Thankfully my 2015 iMac 27" with a similar screen does not.

So I at least hope the frequency is increased significantly. I currently use a 4" iPhone SE that I have had for a long time as there is no longer an iPhone that small, so it is not an issue for me at the moment. But the rumoured 5.4" might be close in size and tempt me, so I hope there is a change. I spent extra money on a monitor to use with my previous MacBook Pro because I wanted one that was flicker-free (i.e. No PWM), which was difficult to find at the time. It is something very much worth having.

Apple products are premium products and should not have PWM, something that only exists to keep costs down.

Yeah, this really isn't quite true. My wife has an XS Max so I tried this. Sure, turning brightness way up and then doing the reduce white point thing does make it so the screen is not too bright, but the flicker is still there- I used my iPhone 11 to film the XS Max in slow motion, and the flicker is still there even at 100% brightness. In turn, when taking slow mo video of my iPhone 11 screen (which of course has LCD) at any brightness level, no flicker is seen at all.

It is disappointing as I was hoping this adjustment would be what solves the problem, as the iPhone 12 mini looks fantastic in every way-the new shape, the size, the new specs, etc. But having OLED, the risk that it has the same flicker as the XS and 11 Pro, it just won't work for me with the way it gives me eye pain and headaches.
 

JM

macrumors 65816
Nov 23, 2014
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Ahhhh..... who needs politics when we can pick a side on the PWM debate. :)
 
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bluecoast

macrumors 65816
Nov 7, 2017
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Ahhhh..... who needs politics when we can pick a side on the PWM debate. :)
Unfortunately for those of us who do suffer from PWM, it’s not a debate - it’s real & not imagined (sadly)! :)

Before coronavirus, I would go to the Apple Store and play around with the X, XS & Pro models and have to stop after a minute or so as I’d get a sharp pain just behind my eyes.

To describe this - it’s similar to if you accidentally look directly at the sun with no protection for a split second - but without artefacts in your vision afterwards.

I only found out that there was such a thing as PWM about 18 months ago - and worked out that it was likely that I had it.

Finally, it explained why I had to put those beautiful phones back down. And who I have an XR - and am likely not going to be able to upgrade until Apple moves to micro LED.
 

JM

macrumors 65816
Nov 23, 2014
1,487
1,959
Unfortunately for those of us who do suffer from PWM, it’s not a debate - it’s real & not imagined (sadly)! :)

Before coronavirus, I would go to the Apple Store and play around with the X, XS & Pro models and have to stop after a minute or so as I’d get a sharp pain just behind my eyes.

To describe this - it’s similar to if you accidentally look directly at the sun with no protection for a split second - but without artefacts in your vision afterwards.

I only found out that there was such a thing as PWM about 18 months ago - and worked out that it was likely that I had it.

Finally, it explained why I had to put those beautiful phones back down. And who I have an XR - and am likely not going to be able to upgrade until Apple moves to micro LED.
Oh I know, I follow this conversation every once in a while, haha. I do believe that it affects some people and is not psychosomatic.

I couldn't stand the old CRT monitors and every time I looked away, it would flash something awful in the corner of my eye.

The people with eyes that have higher "higher refresh rates" are probably the ones that have problems with PWM. Everyone is definitely not the same, haha.

Im worried a tiny bit about getting a 12 because I've never had OLED before except my watch. I'll see how it goes though.
 

now i see it

macrumors 603
Jan 2, 2002
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Worrying about it can create symptoms whether the flickering is actually bothering your eyes or not.
I think once a person is concerned about it, they're screwed, even if the flickering isn't too bad.

I've given up on Apple OLED screens entirely. I won't even try a new model that has their OLED screen. To me it's just like having breathed too much acetone fumes. There's no way I'm going to open up another can of acetone the rest of my life.
 
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jm31828

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2015
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It is really
Worrying about it can create symptoms whether the flickering is actually bothering your eyes or not.
I think once a person is concerned about it, they're screwed, even if the flickering isn't too bad.

I've given up on Apple OLED screens entirely. I won't even try a new model that has their OLED screen. To me it's just like having breathed too much acetone fumes. There's no way I'm going to open up another can of acetone the rest of my life.

How so- do you mean that once you think about it possibly being an issue, or had even experienced it once with a previous phone, that it will always be on your mind and there is no way to avoid having these effects regardless in the future?

I think there could be some truth to that. I bought an XS- my first OLED phone ever- back when it first came out, and oddly I had no trouble the first night when I spent hours setting it up, but beginning the next day or two I had trouble and it did not get any better for the two weeks I had it. So, I returned it and exchanged for an 8 Plus.

I was not thrilled with the 8 Plus because it was not as nice of a phone overall as the XS, and was also disappointed because I gave up that great phone- but still had similar symptoms when looking at my 8 Plus for probably a good month after I got it before they subsided.

I wonder if it was more just the adjustment to a new display that my eyes needed time to adjust to, regardless of whether it was the PWM or not that was a problem. However I do still have similar issues when looking at the display on my wife's XS Max- so I know I should probably not take a chance on buying the 12 Mini- even though to me that looks like the perfect phone in size and design.
 

mprime_17

macrumors member
Oct 5, 2018
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55
  1. As I illustrated with my example, any PWM is still undesirable, it's just easier to tolerate when its a higher frequency. 3,000Hz is not acceptable in my opinion. MacBook Pro PWM is 165,000 Hz.
That seems way too high.
I mean, sites like notebookcheck.net test all their phone for PWM, and if memory doesn't fail me, the vast majority of OLED phones do PWM at around 250hz. In the 11 pro, according to them, is 290hz
 

now i see it

macrumors 603
Jan 2, 2002
5,827
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The thing about eye strain is that (in my experience) it's like having a strained muscle. I used to get really gnarly eyestrain headache issues staring at a CRT computer screen for years. I developed such a sensitivity to rheir flickering that I couldn't even walk into a computer store that had computers on display with their monitors on. Just the peripheral perception of the flickering monitors wound set my eyeballs aching - and I would intentionally not look directly at them.
The problem (CRT flicker eyestrain) lasted for years and I became super sensitive to it. It wasn't until LCD monitors finally became main steam that my strained eyeballs could recover.

The same problem (PWM eyestrain) will do the same thing. Make those who are sensitive to it even more sensitive to it as the body tries to tell you (by sending you pain signals) to get away from the toxin
 
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Stuey3D

macrumors 6502a
Jul 8, 2014
605
682
Northamptonshire, United Kingdom
Here is a good example of what PWM looks like. On the left is my Lenovo X230 and on the right is my 2012 MacBook Pro. Notice the flickering and black bars on the Lenovo screen and the flickering of the keyboard lights on the MacBook this is PWM in action. To the naked eye these appear to be solidly illuminated, its that invisible flickering that is what causes the eye strain and headaches.

I didn’t realise the Lenovo suffered from low frequency PWM until I noticed I started to get the headaches again after using it for a while (albeit not quite as bad as the screen isn’t as bright as an iPhone) When I did some digging on the internet it turns out the screen in the Lenovo even though it is LCD uses the same ~200Hz rate as the iPhone. Higher frequency PWM isn’t an issue for me personally, as my Sony FALD TV uses PWM but at 720Hz.

 
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