Arguably the most exciting part of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPhone X is the edge-to-edge organic light emitting diode (OLED) display on the device, which Apple dubs a Super Retina HD display. This display promises several advantages over traditional Retina HD displays, including support for high dynamic range content, a million-to-1 contrast ratio, and rounded corners.
While I have no doubt that the display on the iPhone X will look quite nice in person, former AnandTech smartphone editor Brandon Chester, apparently citing multiple industry sources, recently tweeted that Apple suffered several display-related "disasters" during the development of the iPhone X.
Those disasters, Chester indicates, led to the delayed availability of the iPhone X, as well as to an iPhone X that didn't quite live up to Apple's original vision for the device.
Let's take a closer look at Chester's comments.
Two failed bets
This tweet sums up two key technology bets that Apple apparently made and failed to deliver on:
But they also bet on 460ppi S-Stripe and Touch ID through glass for this year so maybe optimism is not the way to go with a product roadmap.— Brandon Chester (@nexusCFX) October 1, 2017
The difficulties Apple faced with the second technology mentioned in the tweet -- Touch ID embedded in the display -- have been widely reported in both the press and the analyst community. However, the first bit hasn't, at least to my knowledge, been reported on before.
One of the issues with Apple's Super Retina HD display is that it implements Samsung's (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) Diamond Pixel technology. In a traditional liquid crystal display, such as Apple's own Retina HD displays, each pixel is represented by three sub-pixels: red, green, and blue. In displays using Samsung's Diamond Pixel sub-pixel structure, there are two green sub-pixels for each red and blue sub-pixel.
What this means is that while Apple can say its Retina HD display has a pixel density of 458 pixels per inch, this is only true because a "pixel" in a display that implements diamond pixels has only two sub-pixels per pixel -- either red-green or blue-green.
In terms of sub-pixel density, there will indeed be 458 green sub-pixels per inch, but the density of the red and blue sub-pixels will be substantially lower. Chester, in a previous tweet, pegged the density of the sub-pixels on the iPhone X's display at 326 per inch.
Chester's tweet seems to indicate that Apple had originally wanted to go with the S-stripe layout that Samsung has employed in its Galaxy Tab S tablet, which would've had red, green, and blue sub-pixels all in equal numbers per pixel.
But it seems that Apple and Samsung -- Apple's display supplier for the iPhone X -- couldn't get that working properly for this year's iPhone X. My best guess is that power consumption and battery life with the S-stripe arrangement, at the brightness levels Apple wanted to deliver, simply wasn't acceptable.
One more fail
Another disappointment in the iPhone X -- one that I've already mentioned previously -- is that though Apple apparently tested displays with high refresh rates for the iPhone X, Apple chose not to go with that technology.
Again, it's not clear why Apple abandoned this compelling technology, though battery life and manufacturing yields seem like reasonable explanations. In any event, it's yet another display-related disappointment.
Foolish final thoughts
Life on the cutting edge of technology is tough, and it seems Apple and Samsung just couldn't deliver on the former's ambitious plans with respect to the iPhone X display this year.
To be clear, I don't think the lack of ProMotion or the use of diamond pixels is going to be a deal-breaker for the average customer. Even the lack of an embedded Touch ID sensor in the display, particularly considering Face ID seems to work so well, probably won't be a problem for most, either.
I still think the iPhone X will sell incredibly well and that this product cycle will be a wonderful one for Apple. However, Apple now has its work cut out for it with next year's iPhones. Apple may not be able to fully realize its vision for the iPhone X next year, but if it can get a lot closer next year than it did this year, that'd be a good thing for Apple and its customers as it tries to maintain the momentum from this year's iPhone X launch.