Apple is still learning the core elements of semiconductors. It is never easy because the legends that do this cannot be leapfrogged. They master the nuts with years of understanding atoms and how they relate to what we have come to enjoy as technology via products.
Apple put out a press release notifying the world about the problems with iPhone X display. In reality, Apple was not saying anything in a very serious issue. The iPhone X has been heralded as the best possible phone at the moment and one would have expected that it will be the most advanced in engineering. It seems it may not really be the best in engineering. Of course, in branding, iPhone remains peerless.
The Super Retina display in iPhone X was engineered by Apple to meet our incredibly high standards. We believe this is the best OLED display that has ever shipped in a smartphone while offering the best color accuracy in the industry. The 5.8-inch Super Retina display has incredible contrast at a 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio, high brightness, and a cinema standard wide color gamut. Together with the best system color management, colors are precisely calibrated at all times to deliver an optimal viewing experience.
Yes, Apple has an excuse for something really important: the iPhone X screen is not working optimally.
If you look at an OLED display off-angle, you might notice slight shifts in color and hue. This is a characteristic of OLED and is normal behavior. With extended long-term use, OLED displays can also show slight visual changes. This is also expected behavior and can include ‘image persistence’ or ‘burn-in,’ where the display shows a faint remnant of an image even after a new image appears on the screen.
Get it from me: Apple is not honest in that statement. There is nothing in the design of OLED that makes it permanently to behave that way. I recall when I was in Analog Devices, we were working on the accelerometer for iPhone, the instruction was clear: fix any known problem so that Apple would have the best product in the market. We made that possible. You do not ship a great product with a known industry problem which has been solved, even if that is from your competitor.
The fact is this: the problem Apple is trying to explain away has been solved by Samsung for years. Google also used fancy words to explain the same OLED problem. Samsung, the real semiconductor company, has since solved that issue.
It’s unusual for Apple and Google to experience these problems, because it is an issue that other manufacturers have worked hard to avoid.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is one of many Galaxy devices to carry an OLED screen in the last few years, and there is no indication of blue tinting or colour issues on that device.
Samsung has also taken steps to avoid screen burn in by having elements that are constantly on display (such as its ‘virtual’ home button) move very fractionally around the screen during the day. In day to day use these small flaws are not going to affect the iPhone X (or indeed the Pixel 2 XL) but issues that have been solved in other smartphones have returned with Apple’s latest.
That brings me to this simple observation: how can someone spend $1,000 and the world richest company will focus on explaining away a problem other companies have solved, instead of admitting that it failed. OLED is a new technology, but it is not an infancy. Apple could have sourced this product from Samsung and it would spare it this embarrassment of creating a technical illusion to explain out a problem industry leaders have since solved. Humility is what Apple needs. I hope it fixes that via software or ask Samsung to take over the supplies. Reputation chips away with mistakes like this especially when you are a luxury brand.
--- Read my new books Africa's Sankofa Innovation and Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics (we've started posting, one chapter per day). All books, exclusive articles, etc for $20 (or N7,000) per year. Also, we offer Advisory Services (tech, strategy & Africa)