This morning, we got the chance to chat over the phone with DisplayMate's president, Dr. Raymond Soneira. We asked him a few questions about his detailed study of Smartphone displays (the one we posted this morning), what he had to say about his results, and whether or not there may be an iPad with a Retina Display in the near future.
Mac|Life: Were you surprised by the results?
Dr. Soneira: I try not to approach testing with any preconceived notions, but the earlier OLED displays that I looked at, like the Nexus One, were just awful; they were kind of rushed out the door. I was actually surprised at how much better the "Super" OLED that Samsung produced was over the "non-Super" OLED. I had pretty high hopes on the iPhone display because i know that it...was very similiar to the Motorola Droid that I had tested months back. Of course, I knew that the resolution and sharpness was going to be high.
The iPhone 4 really came through, except that I was disappointed that Apple did not increase the color gamut, most likely because they tried to trade it out for brightness.
Mac|Life: When consumers shop for phones, what's the easiest way that they can tell the difference between screens?
Dr. Soneira: Always try and pull up the same content on both devices. Try to find some content that you're familiar with and what it looks like, such as pictures of people and things. Different people evaluate things in different ways; some care about brightness, sharpness, and will have their own particular issues, so it's not always absolute picture quality that matters. Everyone's got their own special thing.
Mac|Life: Apple's chosen IPS LCD over OLED, but your article suggests that OLED is changing everyday. Do you think they'll ever switch to OLED?
Dr. Soneira: Of course, I have no inside information. I think OLED is evolving rapidly, and who knows what will happen in a year's time because LCD is not standing still. I presume Apple is a very smart tech company and has got several different competing displays for the iPhone 5, and I think Steve Jobs has kind of put his stamp on the sharpness aspect of the iPhone 4. It's going to be very hard for OLED to come up to that sharpness criteria. Steve Jobs indicated that this is going to be the display to beat in the next couple of years. If one takes Jobs on his word, Apple is betting on In-Plane Switching (IPS) for their next few iPhone cycles. It's a really rapidly changing market and it's really hard to guess where the technology is going to go.
Mac|Life: Do you think the Retina Display could come to the iPad?
Dr. Soneira: The iPad actually has the same IPS technology but at a much lower DPI (1024x768). There are all kinds of rumors about OLED technology coming to the iPad, but it's much too expensive to be practial for a display of its size. I would imagine that the next generation iPad is going to go to a much higher resolution pixel density, so I wouldn't be surprised if Apple keeps IPS, but upgrades the iPad to a higher resolution and pixel density. It's unlikely to stay at 326 pixels per inch the way the iPhone is.
Mac|Life: Why do you think Apple increased the resolution on the new iPhone?
Dr. Soneira: The reason why the iPhone went up a resolution was app compatibility--they needed to double the resolution. So, even though they went from 480x320 to 960x380, the apps were still developed for the original display.
Mac|Life: If you made a phone, what kind of display would you use?
Dr. Soneira: I happen to really like the whole issue of image and picture quality accurance. I actually thought that in terms of picture quality, the Droid really delivered the best all around. But, it did not win my award for best phone display--the iPhone 4 did. The IPS LCD is the way to go and it remains to be seen what happens with "Super" OLED and how Samsung will advance that technology. I call it the best new display technology, but it has a fair number of rough edges I presume are slowly going to go away. No one wins hands down and there are always plusses and minuses. You'll always have to make your own personal choices and it's hard for consumers to do that, but that's one of the reasons for an article like [the one I wrote].
Mac|Life: What would you like to see in Apple's next iteration of the iPhone?
Dr. Soneira: I would just like to see the iPhone 5 deliver more saturated colors and have a larger color gamut--that would make it an unbeatable display.
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