DisplayMate’s Soneira: Apple behind Samsung, Amazon in display technology

“Apple risks falling behind in display tech in 2014, DisplayMate Technologies said in a research note,” Brooke Crothers reports for CNET. “Echoing an earlier note, DisplayMate Technologies Raymond Soneira said this week that ‘Apple has recently given up the lead in displays — now Amazon, Google, LG, and Samsung are launching products with the best and most innovative displays.'”

“He cited the example of an emerging LCD technology called Quantum Dots that Amazon has tapped for the Kindle Fire HDX 7,” Crothers reports. “‘Quantum Dots are going to revolutionize and reenergize LCDs for the next 5+ years,’ he wrote. ‘While they have been under development for many years, in 2013 they made it out of the labs and into consumer products: in some models of Sony Bravia TVs… and in the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7, with Quantum Dots from Nanosys,’ he said.”

“Soneira also reiterated that the iPad Mini Retina’s display — which uses a technology called IGZO from Sharp — fell short of the Kindle HDX and second-generation Nexus 7 (though Soneira gave a respectable grade for the iPad Air),” Crothers reports. “‘Hopefully Apple will join the leaders again with new and innovative displays in 2014,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Of course, Apple should be striving to deliver the best displays, but, as some point, and we may be close or already there, the differences are so minute that they are simply unnoticeable to the naked eye.


  1. Yes, really: who cares? Aren’t Apple’s displays really WAY more than “good enough”? Do we really need more expensive displays than what we have now? Is there not such a thing as overkill?

    If Apple stayed with the currently technology it wouldn’t bother me in the least…

    It’s not being on the bleeding edge (both technologically and financially) that’s important. It’s the whole package- the user experience with reliability. And no one, no matter what their display technology, can hold a candle to Apple right now…

    1. Apple inc. is floating on an island of blood created by all the bleeding edge products they have created, from iTunes, iBeacons, iCloud, iBooks, iPads, iPods and many more.
      Many a business has been garroted by that bleeding edge to provide the Appleites a lovely warm BLOODBATH!
      When the temperature of the bloodbath begins to cool or the amount of blood begin to drop, another product will emerge to yet again allow for some serious blood letting! 🙂

    2. I disagree. There are plenty of potential improvements remaining in display technology. Apple will eventually transition from backlit LCD displays to direct emission LED displays – thinner, lighter, lower power, better gamut, deeper blacks, and so forth.

      Apple pushes technology by its very nature. It would mark the beginning of Apple’s end to morph into a complacent corporation focused on leveraging proven, currently available technologies. At the same time, Apple chooses its technological leaps very wisely, such as forging ahead with high resolution mobile displays on the iPad and iPhone. Apple does not add technology just to show off – the advanced technologies add something valuable to the design and the user experience.

      1. I just read an article that apple is investing heavily in quantum dot research. In fact they just were granted 3 patents for quantum dot display tech. So I would think that apple is not giving up, there doing what they always do, looking at what others do and carefully designing a display that does it better. Apple is not always first but they always do it better and right the first time. They have never been a company to rush in just to be a “me too”.
        The article was on posted here about the quantum dot patents apple just were granted: http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/02/06/apple-intensifies-research-into-quantum-dot-enhanced-displays

        I find it funny that this articles poster would not assume that apple was working on quantum dot research. Lol if it improve there devices of course they are. I am sure when they have done enough research it will be incorporated in there products.

  2. Resolutions and PPI are already so good that further improvements are not noticeable to the naked eye.

    Here are some other areas that I would like to see Apple imrove:
    1) energy efficiency
    2) accurate color reproduction
    3) Scratch and shatter resistance
    4) fingerprint/dirt/oil resistance
    5) visibility in bright sunlight
    6) glare reduction

    1. 1) According to Soneira’s own measurements, iPhone’s screen is twice more effective than screen Samsung SGS4 in browsing and reading modes. And no wonder, because organic LEDs have poor efficiency due to complex structures of molecules which waste a lot of energy before they actually emit a photon. SGS4’s screen more effective only if the average equivalent of white is less that 50% — id est only when you watch films and video, what is only 1/4 of smartphone use time.

      2) Colour reproduction is accurate. For now Apple is not lagging here at all — except for iPad mini. Apple will have to correct that, it is shame.

      3) scratch and shatter resistance are contradicting qualities. For example, plastic screen covers of devices before iPhone are very much shatter resistant, but this is another side of the same coin. If you want to get shatter resistant screen cover, you have to have softer material such as plastic. And if you want to have scratch resistance, you have to have very hard but brittle material such as glass or sapphire. For now Apple is not lagging here at all; in fact, Apple will improve both with sapphire over glass unique design in the next iPhone.

      4) oil resistant cover only lasts few months, this is lack for everyone. For now Apple is not lagging here at all. There is no obvious method to deal with it rather than to change the screen altogether every few months, which is costly.

      5) iPhone is better visible under bright sunlight than SGS4 — its factual contrast is 120:1 versus SGS4 ~70:1 during browsing or reading. SGS4 can compete with iPhone’s contrast only when it displays black background and shows only a little bit of white in the form of text — which is like never, unless you specifically turn this mode on.

      7) not quite feasible since significant glare reduction will make screen matte, which would kill black and distort colour reproduction. Matte screens do not have sharp bright mirror-like glares, but they reflect incoming light dissipate at all angles, mixing with the colour that display emits. Mirror-like glossy screens are annoying, but you can find a position where reflections will go not to your eyes, but to a side. In this case, you will have correct colours and much better blacks.

      1. DeRS,

        Thanks that was very informative. You’re right that Apple is already superior to Android phones in many of the areas I have listed but that doesn’t mean Apple should continuously improve on them!

  3. Well MacDailyNews, the difference is not minute. The Air has good display with full sRGB gamut, but the iPad mini retina has only 63 percent of sRGB gamut, meaning colors of pictures are less accurate. Kindle Fire HDX 7 and new Nexus 7 have near sRGB gamut. I wish iPad mini retina offered full sRGB gamut. For photography, I recommend only buying the Air.

    1. I’m with John. Our two iPad Mini Retina devices are clearly inferior to both the iPad Air and my much older 3rd gen iPad Retina display. The colors are washed out and not as vivid on the Retina Mini. My 12 year old daughter comments about how much better my old 3rd gen iPad Retina display looks every time I show her something on it. That needs to be addressed.

    2. Small correction: iPad mini’s colours are quite accurate, but only within narrower gamut. If your picture contains more saturated colours than that, then the displays becomes inaccurate. The correction is small, because pictures are profiled to sRBG colour gamut and most of them do contain portions of intense colours that reach to the maximum of what this colour space could address.

  4. Even if Android has “better” screens, they put a horrible color gamut through those screens to make them look super ugly. I was at concert last night sitting behind a photohappy group with several iPhones and 3 android phones. The colors of real life came onto the screen with every snap of the iPhone “shutter” release” – the stage and screen matched perfectly. When the android phones capture photos, the color was very bluish greenish every time they snapped a photo… their nice big bright screens looking like the utter crap, with greenish hues on faces that should have been red… and blue hues that just did not exist in real life or the iPhone screen. The android screens obviously did not match the colors I was simultaneously viewing on stage.

    Who cares what screens samsung and amazon have – their whole understanding and portrayal of color is beyond amateur and should be a deal killer for anyone who wants natural looking human skin tone in their pictures – rather than an android/data brett spiner in makeup looking humanoids.

  5. There is a difference between offering something because you can, and offering something because there is a tangible reason for doing so. Apple introduce 64 bit chips to mobile devices when they can offer noticeable benefits for doing so and improvements that will pay off for a long time to come. Android will no doubt offer them at some point, but only so they can tout some sort of feature parity. I’m not saying Apple should be offering these improvements, and maybe they will, but good technology is not just the spec sheet with the biggest numbers on it.

  6. Volume and release timing are factors. It’s all good and we’ll to claim first place but if there are insufficient supplies or availability dates then smaller volume companies can “appear” to be leading by shipping low volumes of new technologies.

  7. Keep in mind Apple sells their products in *massive* quantities: there just aren’t enough of the higher quality displays available at any original price. Amazon and others sell in tiny quantities and there’s enough supply of the better screens for that.

    Apple had the same problem back in the days of Mac clones: the cloners could buy faster CPUs which were only available in limited amounts (50,000 or so) and advertise that their computers were faster than Apple’s. Apple couldn’t release their own such Macs until the chips were available in larger quantities (500,000+). That’s a big reason why Steve killed the clones as the cloners were stealing Apple’s top customers.

    1. I know this page is full of ‘5 star’ comments, so I don’t really want to say anything negative. But I was just wondering, would people consider what Steve did (killing off clones who were able to offer faster processors to a subset of their best customers) as ‘anti-competitive’? I hear that word thrown around a lot around Microsoft and Samsung legally, and I’m trying to figure out what is anticompetitive and what is just plain competition…? Is the difference that Apple have never been a monopoly – and so are allowed to have control over their own software because it’s non-standard?

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