One of the best sources on the Web for learning about the performance and capabilities of the displays found on premier mobile devices is DisplayMate. The author, Dr. Raymond Soneira, generally publishes extremely detailed performance tests and measurements of the latest mobile displays and offers insight into what the future for mobile displays might bring.
In his review of the displays found on the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 6/6 Plus, the display expert argued that next generation mobile displays would benefit from expanded color gamuts (beyond the sRGB standard, which most good mobile displays implement these days), or the range of colors that a particular display can actually show.
According to Soneira, OLED displays -- which Apple will reportedly begin to use in its iPhones beginning in 2018 -- can offer wide color gamuts. Traditional LCDs, on the other hand, require new technologies to display a wider range of colors.
Soneira is quite bullish on Quantum Dot LCDs, a technology that enables LCDs to display much wider color gamuts than traditional LCDs can. However, if Apple chooses to widen the color gamut in its next-generation iPhone displays, I don't think it will use Quantum Dots (I'll tell you why shortly).
Here's what it could do instead.
Say, what about that technology in the new iMac?
Apple recently refreshed its Retina 5K iMac line and introduced a new Retina 4K iMac. One of the key selling points for these two computers is that the display is able to show a wider color gamut than traditional sRGB known as P3.
According to an article written by Steven Levy, Apple chose not to use Quantum Dots in its Retina 4K and 5K iMac displays due to the fact that this technology requires the use of the toxic element cadmium.
Instead, according to KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple's display suppliers are using a new LED phosphor to display this expanded range of colors. In the aforementioned interview, Apple's John Ternus said this technology allowed Apple to get its wider color gamut "without the environmental downside."
I think this technology might be exactly what Apple and its suppliers implement in the display that shows up in the next generation iPhones.
Why such a move could make sense
Although I have no special information about Apple's iPhone 7/7s display plans, I think such a move would make sense given Apple's recent history.
For example, the company first introduced a Force Touch trackpad as part of its new 12-inch MacBook as well as its 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro computers earlier this year. Apple then brought that technology to the (much higher volume) iPhone several months later.
Indeed, display quality is a key part of the smartphone experience. In order for Apple to be able to grow sales year over year in the coming iPhone cycle, the company must, in my view, deliver big improvements in the display, as big improvements there will be among the first things potential customers notice as they look at the new devices and compare them to their current ones.
Higher display resolution and pixel density are certainly one very marketable thing that Apple could pursue with its next generation iPhones (and I suspect both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will see display resolution increases from the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, respectively), but a wider color gamut might be an even better way to "wow" said potential customers.
Indeed, in the Levy piece linked earlier, Ternus was quoted as saying that professionals can immediately see the improvement that a wider color gamut brings and that laymen will "look at it and say, 'Gee, I don't really know why, but it looks better.'"
That's exactly the kind of thing, if witnessed in person, that could convince users of older smartphones, particularly those who aren't quite sure if they want to upgrade, to pull the trigger on a new iPhone.
Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.