iPhone 11 OLED v LCD surprise

dmaxdmax

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Oct 26, 2006
675
128
I was in the Apple store yesterday and scoped out the screens on a XS and an XR. I used two highly unscientific tests:

- legibility of smallest font street names in Maps. Phone held at arm’s length on an angle to simulate how it would look in the car. Cranked to full brightness.

- a dark interrogation room scene from the Usual Suspects, looking for details in the shadows. Phone held at normal watch a movie distance. Used the same YouTube clip.

In neither case could I tell even the slightest difference. I purposefully put about 30seconds between the phones rather than simultaneous A/B.

Do you think that there’s a practical difference, noticeable to someone not actively trying to find one? I wouldn’t mind saving $300.
 

russell_314

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2019
690
953
USA
It's your phone so what you see matters. Many people on the forums are going to tell you OLED is better so if you want their approval by all means spend the extra $$$. Just remember they're not going to help pay for it.

OLED has darker blacks and higher resolution but I've seen the XS, XR, and XS Max side by side and while I will say they all looked different I wouldn't say either one was inferior.
 

M4A1

macrumors newbie
May 18, 2007
2
2
To be honest, I’ve felt the same way when I did a similar test. I like the concept of having OLED on paper, but if it’s visually hard for me to see an every day use, then I’m going to skip on it. Although I did see some decent differences when looking at really nice photos or Netflix videos. I think it all depends on how often you run across the positives for OLED.
 

russell_314

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2019
690
953
USA
To be honest, I’ve felt the same way when I did a similar test. I like the concept of having OLED on paper, but if it’s visually hard for me to see an every day use, then I’m going to skip on it. Although I did see some decent differences when looking at really nice photos or Netflix videos. I think it all depends on how often you run across the positives for OLED.
I bought the XS Max without seeing the XR in person. I heard all the fanboy "It's not 1080P" comments and thought it must be terrible. Then I finally saw it in stores and was surprised it looked great. I could have saved about $350 with the XR. Of course there were other differences but I think I would have been perfectly happy with the XR. This time I'm going to have hands on both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max before I make my decision based on what I see with my own eyes.
 

Strelok

macrumors 65816
Jun 6, 2017
1,333
1,533
United States
Watch a dark scene at night, you’ll instantly notice the bluish/grey blacks from an LCD. The other case where you’ll probably see a difference is on super bright days where the OLED gets brighter. Colors may or may not be more vibrant. In most normal uses there will not be a huge difference.
 

tps3443

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2019
1,301
839
NC,USA
The IPhone 11/ or XR will sustain higher frame rates in gaming with the drastically lower resolution. So technically it is going to be faster in gaming.

You’re pushing about 1.4 million pixels With a iPhone 11, vs pushing over 3.3 million pixels with a iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Resolution doesn’t lie! And the higher it is the lower the minimum FPS will be.

So I am imagining playing ARK Survival on EPIC Graphics, and I can already see much smoother performance in a iPhone 11.

This is something people overlook. Also FYI, I ordered a pro Max 11. I do not mind a LCD at all. The iPhone 8 Plus had a beautiful display.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: JRoDDz and spooky23

FuzzMunky

macrumors regular
Jul 7, 2007
198
114
I was in the Apple store yesterday and scoped out the screens on a XS and an XR. I used two highly unscientific tests:

- legibility of smallest font street names in Maps. Phone held at arm’s length on an angle to simulate how it would look in the car. Cranked to full brightness.

- a dark interrogation room scene from the Usual Suspects, looking for details in the shadows. Phone held at normal watch a movie distance. Used the same YouTube clip.

In neither case could I tell even the slightest difference. I purposefully put about 30seconds between the phones rather than simultaneous A/B.

Do you think that there’s a practical difference, noticeable to someone not actively trying to find one? I wouldn’t mind saving $300.
There will not be much perceivable difference in contrast ratio in bright daylight. In fact the higher brightness of the LCD will probably win out there. It is in a darker environment that the OLED would be able to maintain higher contrast while the LCD would becomes less vibrant. However, with OLED at or below about 25% brightness, Pulse-width modulation begins to flash the OLEDs on and off, something which is imperceptible to most, but which gives a significant number of people eye fatigue and/or headaches. For even those who are not able to perceive PWM flickering, it is said to be quite damaging to retinal cells.
Perhaps the new iPhone 11 Pros will implement some kind of DC switching for their OLEDs? Here's hoping.

Another reason why you wouldn't really notice a difference in viewing Youtube content, is that most media content is 8 bit, which means it has 256 levels of brightness (actually less than that in reality). If a display is well calibrated, even the most basic of screen technologies can represent evenly those 256 levels of brightness.

I do notice a difference in resolution between the OLED iPhones and the LCD ones, especially if you bring up 4K videos on youtube. But this would obviously be down to resolution and not necessarily the OLED tech. In fact sometimes the LCD looks sharper, given that it has RGB subpixel arrangement, rather than pentile of OLED.

Anyway, there is no one definitive better tech in displays at the moment, until DC switching is the norm (it is available on many Android phones already) or until MicroLED comes round. OLED's (as implemented by Apple) and LCD's each have pros and cons.
 

russell_314

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2019
690
953
USA
Watch a dark scene at night, you’ll instantly notice the bluish/grey blacks from an LCD. The other case where you’ll probably see a difference is on super bright days where the OLED gets brighter. Colors may or may not be more vibrant. In most normal uses there will not be a huge difference.
Just to see the difference I took my XS Max and iPhone 7 Plus out in direct sunlight and the XS Max did appear brighter. I held the phones purposely so the sun would directly shine and reflect off the screens. Both went to full brightness and neither one was difficult to read texts or websites. I also have a black background on the 7 Plus and you can see it's not pure black. Of course this is the 7 Plus since I don't have an XR handy.
 

4sallypat

macrumors 6502
Sep 16, 2016
355
305
So Calif
That’s just it. Better on paper, or in the lab, or to a newest and coolest fetishist, isn’t the same as better to the eye.
^^^ Yes this!

I have both Xs Max and iPhone 7+ and my wife has the XR - can't see the differences.
The screen sizes are too small to differentiate.
Therefore I got the 11 LCD to replace my 7+ as I don't see any advantage getting the 11 Pro Max.

On the other hand, my Macbooks shows a distinct difference in shadows, black depth, and aliasing.
MBP 15" Retina and MB 12" Retina are much better than my MBA LCD or 13"MBP LCD.
 
  • Like
Reactions: russell_314

russell_314

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2019
690
953
USA
That’s just it. Better on paper, or in the lab, or to a newest and coolest fetishist, isn’t the same as better to the eye.
I'd have to give the win to the OLED but IMO it's not the difference where one is unusable or ugly and the other one stands out. If price is no object then OLED is probably the way to go. When I upgrade now that the 11 is $50 cheaper it's going to be difficult for me to justify the price of the Pro. I haven't made a decision so we'll see. When I got my XS Max it felt like it caused me more eye strain for the first few months but TBH that could have been in my head after reading all the people complaining about it. I mean the eye strain might have been real but just because I'm staring at a phone for too long rather than the screen type.
[doublepost=1568487099][/doublepost]
^^^ Yes this!

I have both Xs Max and iPhone 7+ and my wife has the XR - can't see the differences.
The screen sizes are too small to differentiate.
Therefore I got the 11 LCD to replace my 7+ as I don't see any advantage getting the 11 Pro Max.

On the other hand, my Macbooks shows a distinct difference in shadows, black depth, and aliasing.
MBP 15" Retina and MB 12" Retina are much better than my MBA LCD or 13"MBP LCD.
One of my concerns is the iPhone XR/ iPhone 11 has a slightly smaller screen. No issues at all?

I don't see how you go back and forth from the 7 Plus to the XS Max... The old button system feels slow and just bad now that I'm using the gesture system.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4sallypat

Zxxv

macrumors 68040
Nov 13, 2011
3,558
1,079
UK
I was in the Apple store yesterday and scoped out the screens on a XS and an XR. I used two highly unscientific tests:

- legibility of smallest font street names in Maps. Phone held at arm’s length on an angle to simulate how it would look in the car. Cranked to full brightness.

- a dark interrogation room scene from the Usual Suspects, looking for details in the shadows. Phone held at normal watch a movie distance. Used the same YouTube clip.

In neither case could I tell even the slightest difference. I purposefully put about 30seconds between the phones rather than simultaneous A/B.

Do you think that there’s a practical difference, noticeable to someone not actively trying to find one? I wouldn’t mind saving $300.
Should have looked at photos in the photos app. It’s clear the r has an inferior blurry screen.
 

swandy

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2012
452
96
I did the same thing this morning at our local Apple Store. Had my XS and had to use the XR for comparison (as the new phones won't be on display till Friday) and while I did see very slight differences (play mainly with Maps and Photos), it was nothing to write home about or be concerned with. (And I love to use my iPhone to looks at photos and that was a major concern with me "downgrading" from the XS to the 11. Probably will miss the Telephone lens a bit, but was more intrigued from a photography perspective with the Ultra Wide Angle lens.)
 

TreRep

macrumors regular
Aug 9, 2008
222
14
Venice, ITALY
There will not be much perceivable difference in contrast ratio in bright daylight. In fact the higher brightness of the LCD will probably win out there. It is in a darker environment that the OLED would be able to maintain higher contrast while the LCD would becomes less vibrant. However, with OLED at or below about 25% brightness, Pulse-width modulation begins to flash the OLEDs on and off, something which is imperceptible to most, but which gives a significant number of people eye fatigue and/or headaches. For even those who are not able to perceive PWM flickering, it is said to be quite damaging to retinal cells.
Perhaps the new iPhone 11 Pros will implement some kind of DC switching for their OLEDs? Here's hoping.

Another reason why you wouldn't really notice a difference in viewing Youtube content, is that most media content is 8 bit, which means it has 256 levels of brightness (actually less than that in reality). If a display is well calibrated, even the most basic of screen technologies can represent evenly those 256 levels of brightness.

I do notice a difference in resolution between the OLED iPhones and the LCD ones, especially if you bring up 4K videos on youtube. But this would obviously be down to resolution and not necessarily the OLED tech. In fact sometimes the LCD looks sharper, given that it has RGB subpixel arrangement, rather than pentile of OLED.

Anyway, there is no one definitive better tech in displays at the moment, until DC switching is the norm (it is available on many Android phones already) or until MicroLED comes round. OLED's (as implemented by Apple) and LCD's each have pros and cons.
perfect analysis
 

KrisLord

macrumors 68000
Sep 12, 2008
1,540
1,040
Northumberland, UK
I was in the Apple store yesterday and scoped out the screens on a XS and an XR. I used two highly unscientific tests:

- legibility of smallest font street names in Maps. Phone held at arm’s length on an angle to simulate how it would look in the car. Cranked to full brightness.

- a dark interrogation room scene from the Usual Suspects, looking for details in the shadows. Phone held at normal watch a movie distance. Used the same YouTube clip.

In neither case could I tell even the slightest difference. I purposefully put about 30seconds between the phones rather than simultaneous A/B.

Do you think that there’s a practical difference, noticeable to someone not actively trying to find one? I wouldn’t mind saving $300.
I’ve got an X and my wife upgraded from my old 7 plus to an XR a few months ago.

Whilst I’ve gone for the 11 Pro, that’s for the camera.

The LCD screen isn’t something I think people should be critical of - I find the OLED to have flaws too, namely when I first got it the PWM (how it does low brightness) gave me headaches.

Also the 11 gets you both a physically larger screen, and more “points” so you get more info on the screen.
 

russell_314

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2019
690
953
USA
Should have looked at photos in the photos app. It’s clear the r has an inferior blurry screen.
I've looked at photos in the photos app on an XR. The screen definitely wasn't "blurry". Perhaps you were looking at a defective unit.
 

now i see it

macrumors 601
Jan 2, 2002
4,435
8,784
If you quickly move the OLED phones in the dark or quickly move your eyes past the OLED screens in the dark, the strobe effect from PWM is easily seen. You can see the screen flashing.
If you want to stare at a strobe light all the time, get one of the Pros. Some people apparently don't care.
 

LIVEFRMNYC

macrumors 604
Oct 27, 2009
7,459
8,648
I do notice better sharpness, richer colors, and deeper blacks, with Netflix and Amazon Prime videos. Most Youtube content is not a great test at any resolution.

Games also seems to have richer colors and deeper blacks. Haven't noticed a clear sharpness difference though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: russell_314

russell_314

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2019
690
953
USA
If you quickly move the OLED phones in the dark or quickly move your eyes past the OLED screens in the dark, the strobe effect from PWM is easily seen. You can see the screen flashing.
If you want to stare at a strobe light all the time, get one of the Pros. Some people apparently don't care.
I will have to check this out tonight. I did feel like I had some additional eye strain at first but I don't notice this anymore.
 

4sallypat

macrumors 6502
Sep 16, 2016
355
305
So Calif
.....
I don't see how you go back and forth from the 7 Plus to the XS Max... The old button system feels slow and just bad now that I'm using the gesture system.
Yah - that is a pain / nuisance having to switch from touch ID to face ID with 2 different phone technologies.
With the generous $350 trade in I got for my old 7, a new 11 on it's way, it will be much more conducive to logging into the phones.
 
  • Like
Reactions: russell_314

EugW

macrumors 604
Jun 18, 2017
7,540
4,871
The XR screen is OK but clarity on small fonts on my wife’s XR is noticeably worse than on my 7 Plus though.

I don’t really notice it at arm’s length but will notice it if I hold it closer, which I often do.
 

Infinite Vortex

macrumors 6502
Mar 6, 2015
287
505
There are plusses to both and it really comes down to what you do with your phone. For instance, I've had a noticeable difference in battery runtime simply by doing dark mode plus a flat black background. On LCD it makes not a squat of difference but with OLED it does. As with all things YMMV but I prefer OLED when given the choice.

The question really is who it is you're trying convince of the lack of difference... us or yourself?
 

russell_314

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2019
690
953
USA
There are plusses to both and it really comes down to what you do with your phone. For instance, I've had a noticeable difference in battery runtime simply by doing dark mode plus a flat black background. On LCD it makes not a squat of difference but with OLED it does. As with all things YMMV but I prefer OLED when given the choice.

The question really is who it is you're trying convince of the lack of difference... us or yourself?
Maybe he's trying to convince himself that he doesn't need to spend the extra $$$ LOL...
 

jk1211

macrumors 6502a
Sep 13, 2018
581
1,372
Depends. No argument blacks are better on OLED, always will be since the pixels are off. Colors will pop more on OLED and the screen is high resolution. Not the LCD is bad, But its still lower res.

And with iOS13 dark mode, you may get better battery life out of OLED since blacks mean pixels off not using power vs LCD as black LCD pixels are still on.