Even turned off, there’s no denying it: The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the most beautiful phone on the market.
And once you power it on, you’re treated to the Galaxy’s OLED screen, a technology Samsung has been using since its first Galaxy phone came out seven years ago. The crisp, clear, bright screen is a huge part of what makes Galaxy phones, and specifically this latest Galaxy phone, so stunning.
But there’s a feature of the Galaxy’s screen that has quickly become one of my favourite parts of the phone: the ability for the OLED screen to be “always on” without killing the battery.
Here’s what I mean:
This feature really threw me off at first. As an iPhone user, I’m used to locking my phone and have the screen go dark. Always being able to see the time and date, plus that fun little cosmic sparkle, made me worry my phone was going to run out out of battery in a matter of an hour or two.
But that’s not what happened. I left the phone on overnight without charging it and the battery only went down a few percentage points. And that’s just one reason why I prefer the Galaxy’s screen to the iPhone’s.
So how does it work?
For the uninitiated, OLED stands for “organic light-emitting diode.” It’s different from the more commonly used LCD technology, which stands for “liquid crystal display.” That’s what Apple still uses for iPhones.
OLED screens create light within each individual pixel in an image, doing away with the need for a separate backlight like LCD screens have. Individual pixels can be shut off, which means that the screen can produce darker blacks, since it isn’t trying to cover up the backlight.
The result is a much more vivid picture. The display is so bright and so captivating, it doesn’t look real. You feel like you could climb into the screen — it’s that immersive. For anyone who wears glasses or contacts, the difference between OLED and LCD screens felt like when your prescription gets bumped up a notch and everything comes into sharper focus.
So when the phone showed me the time and date at all times, it was only lighting up the pixels it needed to do that. The black parts of the screen weren’t coloured black, like an LCD screen. Instead, the pixels were shut off entirely. If an iPhone tried to do that now, it would have to light up the entire screen, then colour in the pixels black to cover up the backlight. And your battery would drain.
What does this have to do with the iPhone 8?
Rumour has it the newest version of the iPhone will start using the same display technology the Galaxy has been using for years — that gorgeous OLED display.
Apple is expected to put out three new phones in 2017, and at least one of them (a high-end version) is said to have an OLED screen that covers almost the entire front of the device. The other phones Apple is expected to release in 2017 will likely still have LCD screens.
An OLED display on an iPhone means that a shortcoming of the iPhone is about to be eliminated. While the LCD screen is fine enough, anyone who’s seen an OLED screen knows it’s significantly better-looking.
Now, imagine that screen on an iPhone — perhaps covering the entire front of the phone — and with Apple’s operating system. You can’t blame me for being excited.