iPhone XS Max’s OLED screen has some notable improvements over the original X

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max display stats shown on the slide used in Apple's September 2018 press conference

The 6.5-inch custom-built OLED panel in Apple’s new iPhone XS Max has earned the “Best Smartphone Display Award” with near perfect calibration and performance, according to display testing and calibration experts over at DisplayMate Technologies.

One heck of a display

DisplayMate tests every new major smartphone release and the latest iPhones are no exception. “iPhone XS Max is a very impressive top-tier smartphone display,” said DisplayMate president Dr. Raymond M. Soneira yesterday.

Apple is highly invested in advanced display technologies and it certainly shows.

iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max display characteristics

The custom-built 6.5-inch OLED panel, the biggest display in any iPhone to date, matches or sets smartphone display records in several bars, including image quality and color accuracy.

Key takeaways

Here are your key takeaways:

  • Peak fullscreen brightness is higher: At 660 nits when displaying an all-white screen (725 nits on the Home screen vs 726 nits for the X), iPhone XS Max beats iPhone X’s peak fullscreen brightness of 634 nits. It actives this for the sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts so you enjoy enhanced visibility in high ambient lighting conditions.
  • Screen reflectance is lower: A low screen reflectance of 4.7 percent means better readability, picture quality and color accuracy in ambient light without being washed-out. The measured screen reflectance for iPhone XS Max at 4.7 percent is “close to the lowest” they have ever measured for any smartphone.
  • Absolute color accuracy is truly impressive: With an absolute color accuracy of 0.8 JNCD (Just Noticeable Color Difference) for the sRGB / Red.709 color gamut (used for most current consumer content) and 0.8 JNCD for the DCI-P3 color gamut used for 4K TVs and digital cinema, both iPhones are “visually indistinguishable from perfect” and considerably better than any mobile display, monitor, TV or UHD TV that you have.

Aside from higher peak brightness, lower screen reflectance and the highest contrast rating for ambient high light the testing has recorded for a smartphone, what else is worth a mention?

How about the smallest color shift (image content APL at 0.4 JNCD) and the smallest brightness variation? For those wondering, the largest color shift with the Max occurs at 30 degrees at 6.2JNCD and a 15% brightness variation.

In conclusion

“Based on our extensive lab tests and measurements, iPhone XS Max receives our ‘Best Smartphone Display Award’, earning DisplayMate’s highest ever A+ grade by providing considerably better display performance than other competing smartphones,” concludes their report, titled “iPhone XS Max OLED Display Technology Shoot-Out”.

iPhone XS Max display earns the highest accolades in DisplayMate's testing despite being more challenging to manufacture than smaller OLED-built screens

You can comfortably view both iPhone XS and Max screens in typical wet indoor and outdoor conditions thanks to a stronger water and dust-proofing earning it the IP68 rating vs IP67 for the X. And with a more durable and scratch-resistant cover glass, the new iPhones provide a higher resistance to breakage than the previous X, 8 and 8 Plus models.

A look at competition

Last year, DisplayMate had named the OLED panel used on iPhone X their most innovative and highest performance smartphone screen. However, Apple’s first OLED-based iPhone was overtaken just a few short months later by Samsung’s Galaxy S9.

The Samsung phone was named DisplayMate’s new best-performing mobile screen and the first smartphone panel to receive all-green ratings in all of their lab tests. As for Samsung ‘s newest flagship Note 9 smartphone with its curved 6.4-inch Super AMOLED-based Infinity Display, it earned the highest-ever A+ grade in DisplayMate’s testing.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, called Infinity Display

As per Apple stats, the Super Retina display in the new iPhones supports wide color gamut (DCI-P3), a million-to-one contrast ratio, 625 cd/m2 top brightness and High Dynamic Range video with support for Dolby Vision and HDR10 content.

All iPhone screens are factory calibrated, which has helped Apple set these records.

Your comment

One final tidbit that I wasn’t aware of: the iPhone XS Max screen works with polarizing glasses in both orientations, unlike many LCDs which generally work well in either portrait or landscape.

What do you guys make of these screen improvements on the Apple phablet?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.