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iPhone 7 display approaches limits of LCD technology: DisplayMate

Apple says that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have the best screens it has ever put on a smartphone, but that is to be expected from the manufacturer. The claim has now been backed up by Dr. Raymond M. Soneira of DisplayMate, whose screen analysis is well respected throughout the tech industry.

Over the weekend, he applied his tools to Apple's new iPhone 7, comparing it to the iPhone 6, and found that its improvements matched Apple's marketing: a much brighter display that can convey some 25% more colors thanks to its DCI-P3 gamut. The phone shifts between P3 and SRGB seamlessly depending on the content being displayed, and at both spectrums the phone is "by far the best performing mobile LCD display that we have ever tested, [breaking] many display performance records," according to the analysis.

Specifically, the iPhone 7 improves in contrast and peak brightness, meaning the darks are as close to perfect as you'll find on an LCD display (which can't match an OLED's perfect blacks due to the use of a backlight), and the brightness is good enough to see the screen comfortable in sunlight. DisplayMate points out that the iPhone 7 has an average peak of 602 nits when set to manual maximum brightness, but can rise to 705 nits with automatic brightness enabled. Only Samsung's Galaxy Note 7, which reached over 1,000 nits in DisplayMate's tests, consistently beat the iPhone 7's peak brightness.

Soneira concludes that Apple appears to have included a near-perfect LCD on the iPhone 7

DisplayMate also notes that the iPhone 7's colors are extremely accurate, "visually indistinguishable from perfect," which means the screens, despite having to be optimized for dual gamuts, are properly calibrated at the factory.

Soneira concludes that Apple appears to have included a near-perfect LCD on the iPhone 7, buttressing the limits of the technology itself, including brightness loss at sharp viewing angles and lower contrast ratios compared to OLED displays. He wonders whether, as rumors have suggested, Apple will indeed turn to OLED displays for the next-generation iPhone, which are "much thinner, much lighter, with a much smaller bezel providing a near rimless design, [and] they can be made flexible and into curved screens, plus they have a very fast response time, better viewing angles, and an always-on display mode."

What do you think of the iPhone 7 display compared to your previous iPhone? Have you noticed a difference? Let us know in the comments below!

Daniel Bader is a Senior Editor at iMore, offering his Canadian analysis on Apple and its awesome products. In addition to writing and producing, Daniel regularly appears on Canadian networks CBC and CTV as a technology analyst.

29 Comments
  • Did the Note 7 only reach that many Nits when on fire?
  • It will never get old, huh? It really is though... Sent from the iMore App
  • Come up with that all by yourself?
  • Hey the screens for Apple get made by LG and Samsung.
  • You rather watch a video in 720p or 1440p?
  • Doesn't matter on a display that's smaller than 9", not unless you hold it an inch from your face.
  • Stop spewing lies. You can tell a very notable difference between a 7, 7plus and a Samsung S7 with the S7 having a far superior screen.
  • True I experienced this when i was still using my 5s, While i had my 6 plus. A 2k screen vs 1080p i don't notice much difference, but 720 or 326 ppi next to the 6 plus does scratch your eyeballs.Even Rene said so on macbreak weekly. Putting out a phone with the same pixel density as a 2010 iphone 4,keeps me from going back to the smaller model.
  • Lol, the human eye at best has a limit. iPhone 7 like the 6, 6s, 5, 5s, 4 and 4s before it is at that limit. This very notable difference is 100% in your head. There is ZERO perceptible difference on devices at this size and to say it's a lie shows how bullshit your view is.
  • Actually you can experience a difference. Hold an iPhone 7 next to an s7. The s7 has more crispness to it. This is coming from someone who owns an s7, but you cannot deny 720p is getting low for a flagship device.
  • Like in my VR headset?
  • I watch in 1080p which is plenty. Sent from the iMore App
  • 1080, also cause my moto x style even thou it has the 1440 gets stuck when playing more than 1080
  • I can definitely see the difference between my old 6S plus and my 7 plus. I notice it most when I'm watching videos. The colours are much more vibrant. I had the S7 edge for a month and this new update trumps the screen on that. Yes the super amoled might be technically better but I prefer the display on my 7 plus now. Sent from the iMore App
  • Can you go into any sort of detail about how the 7 plus "trumps" the screen on the S7 edge, because I call BS on that big time...
  • Pretty sure the article I just read was talking about LCD displays. Doesn't your S7 have an AMOLED display? "Specifically, the iPhone 7 improves in contrast and peak brightness, meaning the darks are as close to perfect as you'll find on an LCD display (which can't match an OLED's perfect blacks due to the use of a backlight)..." Reading is fundamental...
  • Who are you saying "Reading is fundamental" to?? Your comment doesn't make sense in relation to my comment. I was replying to shanghaichica saying the iphones display trumps that of the S7. I call BS on that. Yes, displaymate has found the iphone 7 display to be the best LCD display ever produced but Amoled is still superior in obvious ways I don't think I need to go into here... so "reading is fundamental" right back at ya... smh
  • Read the displaymate report. This is one **** of a display. S7 is brighter and has better blacks but the accuacy crown goes to apple
  • Its called my personal preference but I already said that techno the S7E has the better display.... Sent from the iMore App
  • * Technically Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm calling it apples "new" wide color gimmick! Fine if they wanted to just recycle last years screen ok but don't bs your customer into thinking there getting this new innovative screen when's it's the same just a little brighter Sent from the iMore App
  • Actually you are wrong. The display is actually different from last year. Did you know the 9.7 iPad display si a the same as the iPhone 7 and is actually difference from the one used on the iPad Pro 12.9. So is not BS
  • Says who? With negligible difference shown in videos, I'm calling bs but oh well it is what it is. I'll just have to see one for my self I guess Sent from the iMore App
  • so, just because DisplayMate does tests, is that any reason to give up older stuff ? I think my iPhone 6 is great, but and while iPhone 7 screen is better, i'm gonna use what i want unless Apple forces me. and defiantly not a reason (for me anyway) to upgrade depending on my use case.. and none of those reasons fall into what i use a phone for.. I think that way with any Apple products, which is why i'm using "out-dated" hardware and software (in the media calls it) .. It works for me.
  • I compared the screen on my Note 7 to my friend's iPhone 7 Plus and my 9.7" IPad Pro. My thoughts are that the Note 7 screen is far superior. Although the Note 7 has a 2K screen, it's not really a big deal unless more content providers push out that 2K content, which at this point only YouTube supports it, and 1080P is enough to browse the web on a 5.5" display. The Note 7's color and contrast is a big deal though, it made my iPad's TrueTone display look dull and unexciting (which I thought had the best display ever when I first got it). I feel that Apple's next phone doesn't need a 2K display, but at least have the vibrancy of an OLED display.
  • Would you consider the claims that the AMOLED screens are "artificially vibrant"? I think this is why Apple is still holding on to LCD; it's more relatively accurate. Also, burn-in. Go to a cellphone store and look at the AMOLED demo phones, some if not all will have burn-in. I don't think this is a huge problem for the common user since I don't see many complaints on forums, but AMOLED is still much more susceptible to burn-in than LCD. But a brighter screen would be nice.
  • Vibrant is vibrant, there's nothing artificial about it. The Note 7 also has a chip inside that let it display HDR contents, letting it reach 1000 nits in brightness; HDR contents look amazing and natural on it. As for burn ins, those display units in retail stores are on over 12 hours a day left on the same image everyday, burn in is imminent. My brother had his Note 2 for over 3 years and he didn't get a burn in until his 3rd year with the phone, and even then it was hardly noticeable. OLED has reached a point where it's superior than LCD, I don't see why Apple can't start incorporating it into the iPhone; thinner display, better battery life, wider color gamut, better contrast, etc.
  • iOS doesn't switch between DCI-P3 and sRGB, it has a full CMM so you can have content on the screen from both color gamuts at the same time and they will both be displayed correctly. By comparison, Android has no color management at all. Take a look at the Displaymate review on the Galaxy Note 7 and you'll see that in the default display mode mode (they use modes instead of real color management) when viewing any sRGB content (90% of everything out there) it has an Average Color Shift From sRGB / Rec.709 of 8.3 JNCD. Thats really bad. If you look at the same Displaymate criteria for iPhone 7 you'll see a much more impressive 1.1 JNCD. Just putting a wide gamut display in a device and not also doing proper color management is just lazy. Starting in iOS 9.3, Apple has the only mobile operating system that does this.
  • Improving on lcds is like improving on the carburetor ...... Sent from the iMore App