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The Difference Between LCD and OLED Screens (and Why It Matters for Your iPhone)

What is an LCD?

Let’s start with the basics. There are basically two different kinds of iPhone displays. The first is LCD, which stands for liquid-crystal display. To simplify the explanation (and this is a significant simplification) let’s look at two of the components that make LCDs work. The first is their pixels, which are what dictate the colours that appear onscreen. Each pixel has three subpixels — one red, one green, and one blue — which each change in intensity. That combination of colours creates the images that appear when you scroll on Instagram, watch a YouTube video, or look at your photos.

The second component with LCDs is the backlight. The backlight is a panel that sits behind the pixels, and shines light through them in order for you to see what you see. When you change the brightness of your display, you’re really controlling the backlight, and it covers the entire display; think of it like a lightbulb — you can’t decide to have one part of the lightbulb getting brighter while another part gets dimmer.                                                                                                                                                                    

What is an OLED display?

The other type of iPhone display is OLED, short for organic light-emitting diode. The major difference between LCD and OLED displays is that there is no backlight in an OLED panel. Instead, the pixels light themselves up. That gives you some significant benefits; for one, you can have more finely detailed images, since each pixel stands out on its own, rather than requiring a backlight that covers all surrounding pixels as well. The biggest benefit, and the one you might see people talk about most, is that OLED pixels can turn themselves off, giving you incredible contrast between light and dark images.



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