The technology that could boost Apple’s Retina displays to new levels

“By popular consensus the display on the iPhone and the display on its main competitor, the Samsung S4, are on a par,” Haydn Shaughnessy writes for Forbes. “But they have different virtues. The Retina is crisp and precise as well as bright. The AMOLED on the S4 has a much richer color gamut. The difference in these virtues though is profound. Color is an essential part of the consumer experience and LCD screens, like the Retina, cannot compete with the rich colors of OLED. Until now.”

“3M’s Optical Systems Division, and nanotech partner Nanosys, are finally bringing their QDEF, color enhancement technology to LCD displays, an advance that promises a 50% increase in the color experienced by users,” Shaughnessy writes. “The technology is twenty years in the making and was expected to be on the market in 2011.”

Shaughnessy writes, “And that brings us to the big complication. Samsung Ventures are an investor in Nanosys, so QDEF could bring further complexity to the Apple, Samsung relationship. More than tha[t] though… Samsung has now launched an LCD version of the S4. Popped up with QDEF technology, it is going to be considerably enhanced by the end of the year, leaving the iPhone in its trail unless Apple acts quickly. Having said that, there’s no reason why this technology should not put Apple back on top, with an awesome display, great color experience and an OS to do it justice.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. I am confident that Apple will make the right choice of LCD tech in the next few years whether it be Samsung or other, hopefully the latter, given Samsung are plundering plagiarists. Apple are the reason pixel density and colour are so good on todays smartphones, everyone else had to play catch up, nowadays they are second guessing and it seems to have paid off. Regardless of what phone has the best screen, I trust Apple to deliver excellent quality and longevity.

  2. Absolute Bulls__t from someone who obviously does not understand color. (trust me here I make my living in postproduction)

    OLED suffers in virtually every aspect of gamut (essentially the reproducible “colorspace” though often you see two variables of gamut plotted in 2d it is actually a multi dimensional specification)
    Anyhow I digress… Ok; OLED is visibly inferior to LCD in color space except on one edge, saturation. However, what he is not telling you (either ignorant or intentionally) is that those hyper saturated shades virtually never exist.
    They rarely occur in the real world and all broadcast, film or recorded videos have those saturations intentionally limited clipped or removed (because they are normally aberrations (caused by processing, not actually there) and virtually unreproducible anyway)

    So with a OLED you are giving up every other colorspace metric not to mention clarity, granularity and a host of other very visible characteristics to get one, One which rarely occurs in nature and will never occur in any videos you get from virtually anywhere. So what do they do to counter this? They “expand” the saturation, which is why video’s look a bit overblown and cartoonish on samsungs phones (don’t believe me? Compare them side by side, it’s easily visible)

    OLED is a technology in search of a use, it’s visually inferior to LCD in many ways, but luckily (for samsung) they have found a bunch of suckers who don’t really understand color.

    1. the gist of the article says that Samsung has started using LED on their Galaxy 4, and as a partner to this new tech, may use this new LED tech on their forth coming screens. Your rant, though maybe accurate, seems a little over the top in context.

      1. No, I was dead accurate.
        When a reporter quotes samesung market speak like;
        “The AMOLED on the S4 has a much richer color gamut. ”
        which is utter bulls__t, I don’t think a accurate & truthful response like mine is “over the top” at all.

        1. Since almost all of the media calibrated for standard sRGB colour gamut, there is no sense in white colour gamut than that.

          Even Samsung Galaxy S4 own photo camera can take shots only in sRGB colour space, so extended gamut can only crook actual colours, not give any more intended hues.

          Apple’s full sRGB colour gamut is perfect for devices until, for example, photo/video sensors will be able to capture richer colours. Otherwise extended gamut is either useless or harmful, as in SGS4 example (it crooks, oversaturates colours).

          1. Just to complicate matters and explain the meaning and value of one of the technical terms:

            sRGB is an invented color space by Microsoft (HP just tagged along). At Kodak I dubbed it ‘stupidRGB’ because if is so profoundly limited. It was a convenient crushed color space foisted as a standard, that in today’s world is useless crap. But hey, it’s a standard.

            The ‘RAW’ color revolution witnessed in just about every digital camera was a direct response to the horror of sRGB.

            And yes, I’m being all dramatic and emotional about it. But OMG is sRGB crap whose day is way over.


      1. Perhaps that is satire (that as sailed over my head) but “washed out” and saturated are opposites (both in chroma and luma) you can’t have a washed out saturated image
        (unless you are referring to a washed out (undersaturated) chroma and a hyper-saturated luma like what occurs in a bleach bypass process)

    2. I’m in post as well, Tessellator, very well said. There’s a good reason Samsung is moving to LCD, and Apple never moved to OLED. There is no doubt that Apple is aware of QDEF, and will either incorporate it if it’s good, or have their own tech that’s better.

      1. Apple has traditionally been a prime leader in color science. Witness ColorSync. Whether the same pioneers are still at Apple, I have no idea. But Apple has the foundation of understanding and applying professional quality color. This is going to be interesting.

        Samsung and color? Samsung depends on other people’s knowledge and technology, as per usual.

  3. Over-saturated colors on AMOLED screens is a drawback, not a benefit, of this technology. Apple strives for color balance and accuracy when selecting screens, be it for iDevises or Macs.

  4. I wonder what would happen if Apple offered some Forbes hack to write a complimentary article? Forbes would probably counter with an article about bribes. Forbes is a dead company walking attempting to remain relevant.

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