It is possible for Apple to make iPhone screen shines brighter without exhausting more battery

In our daily smartphone usage, we’ve all adopted a set of practices to prevent our phones from running out of battery, with dimming the screen being one of the immediate responses when the ominous low-battery warning appears. While it might not always result in substantial power savings, the act itself provides a sense of satisfaction, as if we’ve snatched a little more screen time from the clutches of imminent phone death.

Fortunately, the tech industry is attuned to this common dilemma and is actively seeking solutions. According to a recent report, Apple may adopt a feature commonly found in high-end televisions to enhance the brightness of future iPhones without compromising power efficiency. This innovation could potentially debut as early as next year with the launch of the iPhone 16, although Apple has not officially commented on this development.

The proposed solution involves the application of micro-lens arrays (MLA) to the OLED screens of iPhones, with LG and Samsung, two of Apple’s display suppliers, leading the effort. This technique has already made waves in the world of OLED TVs, notably discussed at this year’s CES tech conference. Manufacturers like LG and Panasonic have claimed that MLA can significantly boost brightness, with some OLED TVs achieving over 2,000 nits of brightness and up to 150 percent improvement. This technology could potentially revolutionize the visual experience on iPhones.

To understand the significance of this development, it’s essential to grasp the concepts of MLA and OLED. OLED displays operate by using individual organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) for each pixel, enabling precise control of each pixel’s illumination, color, and on/off state. This results in vibrant colors, deep blacks, and exceptional contrast, characteristics already employed in Apple’s “Super Retina” OLED displays.

However, OLED TVs have faced criticism for their lower brightness and relatively higher energy consumption compared to top-tier models from competitors like Samsung and Sony. This issue arises from the fact that light emitted by each OLED pixel can scatter within the display’s layers, leading to energy inefficiencies and limited brightness potential.

LG’s solution to this problem involves incorporating a layer of microscopic lenses, known as an MLA, on top of the OLED pixels. These minuscule convex lenses, in combination with a specialized software algorithm, redirect and focus the scattered light toward the viewer. Remarkably, LG claims to fit over 5,000 of these lenses on a single pixel, amounting to billions on a large TV screen. As a result, LG’s latest OLED sets achieve increased brightness without consuming more power, making them 22 percent more efficient than previous OLED models.

Implementing MLA technology in smartphones, including iPhones, presents challenges, as Samsung has already done with some Galaxy S Ultra models. While MLA can optimize the path of OLED light, it can also reduce light intensity when viewed from certain angles, potentially limiting the field of view for users. Overcoming this challenge while maintaining energy-efficient peak brightness is a key consideration for Apple.

Additionally, Apple faces the complexity of dealing with two different suppliers, each with its own expertise. Samsung has used MLA in its smartphones and supplied it to Chinese smartphone brands, while LG has primarily implemented it in larger TVs rather than smaller screens.

In parallel, Apple is exploring another display technology called microLED as part of its efforts to produce more of its components internally. MicroLED offers exceptional peak brightness and OLED-like contrast, further complicating the landscape of display technologies for future iPhones.

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