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This could be a glimpse at one of the iPhone 7’s best new features

Published Apr 12th, 2016 12:29PM EDT
iPhone 7 Galaxy S7

You might not be excited about tablets these days, not even about Apple’s latest iPad Pro that replaces the iPad Air line. However, there’s a component in the latest iOS tablet that, if adopted in the iPhone 7 later this year, might help Apple overtake Samsung in one critical smartphone feature: Real-life display performance.

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A recent report from DisplayMate revealed that the Galaxy S7 OLED display is the best smartphone screen in town, beating all competitors, including the iPhone 6s.

DisplayMate’s expert Raymond Soneira is back with a detailed analysis of the iPad Pro’s screen, which offers an unsurprising conclusion. The iPad Pro 9.7 has an LCD that’s better in every way than any iPad’s screen, including the 12.9-inch model.

The display is “by far the best performing mobile LCD display that we have ever tested, and it breaks many display performance records,” Soneira said.

One of the highlights of the new iPad Pro’s display is a “very innovative low reflectance screen that reflects just 1.7% of the ambient light by using a new anti-reflection AR coating. It has by far the lowest low screen reflectance of any mobile display, so its image colors and contrast in high ambient light will appear considerably better than any other mobile display.”

That remark is crucial as it appears that the iPad Pro beats any competing device, including the Galaxy S7, when it comes to screen reflectance. Samsung’s phone’s reflectance is low as well, but at 4.6% it’s still higher than the iPad Pro’s.

“While its importance has been overlooked by most consumers, reviewers, and (even) manufacturers, it is a major enhancement that reduces the reflected light glare from the screen by a very impressive factor of 3 to 1 compared to most Tablets and Smartphones,” Soneira continued. “Reflected ambient light washes out the on-screen images, reducing both their contrast and color saturation, so on the iPad Pro 9.7, you’ll see better color and contrast in ambient light than any other mobile display.”

More importantly, lower screen reflectance would let users reduce the brightness of the screen, which leads to better battery life.

Will Apple use the same screen technology for the iPhone 7 this year? Soneira speculates that Apple just might, which would make the iPhone 7’s screen one of the best smartphone displays available this year.

“Since Apple likes to expand new technology across its product lines, an educated guess for the upcoming iPhone 7 is that its display could be a small version of the iPad Pro 9.7,” he said.

Soneira continued, “Improvements could include adding the new DCI-P3 wide color gamut and also adding an anti-reflection coating that could lower the screen reflectance from the current iPhone 4.6% down to 1.7% (a factor of almost 3 improvement). Both of these would also improve the iPhone screen performance and readability in high ambient light. True Tone could be added if Apple upgrades the ambient light sensors, so they measure color in addition to brightness.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.