Apple vs. Chinese Brands – Why Apple Doesn’t Use 2K Displays on iPhones


Many years ago, Apple led the smartphone market in terms of innovation and other follow-ups. The company is usually the first to roll out a feature and Chinese brands will simply water it down to make it cheaper. However, it seems that Chinese brands are no longer looking to Apple. In fact, the reverse is now the case in a different way. Chinese brands now have a head start in terms of innovation, but Apple is always looking to improve on everything Chinese brands bring to market. When it comes to video technologies, battery life, fast charging, and screen tracks, Chinese brands are ahead.

Just like when Apple used LCD screens, Android phone makers were already striving to use OLED screens. Now that Android brands are already rolling out 2K displays, Apple seems to be dragging its feet

What is Apple waiting for?

Some people can’t help but ask why doesn’t Apple use a 2K display for the iPhone? We all know most iPhone users wouldn’t care, instead they will say “Why should I use 2K screen for iPhone?”. However, tech enthusiasts have genuine concerns. As we all know, Apple basically doesn’t use the screen to make a fuss. The reason why iPhone has such a large group of users is mainly due to its powerful chip and iOS system.

However, the chips and systems of Android phones are almost the same. The only difference is the technical setting and the manufacturer’s algorithm. Therefore, the 2K screen is one of the main highlights of the promotion.

In fact, as an ordinary consumer, to be honest, even if you have an Android phone with a 2K screen in your hand, it doesn’t have much substantial impact on visual perception. Even if you have a 1080P phone in your hand, you might not know the difference. Ordinary users will watch videos, browse web pages and play games normally without noticing any difference. While ordinary users know that 2K screen will be better than 1080P, they can’t tell the difference in the end.

Chinese brands against Apple

Many Chinese manufacturers now have 2K displays with a resolution of up to 3216 x 1440 pixels. When you compare that to the 2778 x 1284 resolution of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, it obviously doesn’t live up to the 2K display. However, there is no denying that the iPhone still sells well even without a 2K display.

There are several reasons why the screen resolution does not need to be so high. That could probably be why Apple doesn’t really care. The look and feel of the display is resolution independent. The focus should be on screen size and pixel density (PPI).

Pixel density represents the number of pixels per inch of the screen. The higher the value, the finer the image. So at the same resolution, different pixel sizes and densities end up giving different results.

Taking the iPhone 13 Pro Max as an example, it features a 6.7-inch (diagonal) full OLED display with a resolution of 2778 x 1284 pixels and a pixel density of 458 PPI. Take a Chinese flagship with a 2K screen for comparison. It also has a 6.7-inch (diagonal) screen with a resolution of 3216 x 1440 and a pixel density of 525 PPI.

From there, it would seem that the 2K display is necessary. However, it’s important to note that Apple uses pixel density as the standard for formulating displays, not resolution. Let’s say that since the concept of “Retina Display” proposed by Steve Jobs when the iPhone 4 was released, the standard for displaying the screen of mobile phones is based on the Apple standard.

Apple’s “Retina display”

At the release of the iPhone 4, Apple put 960 x 640 pixels on a 3.5 inch screen and the pixel density of this screen reached 330 PPI.

Jobs said, “When you’re holding something 10-12 inches away from you, as long as the pixel density hits 300 PPI, your retina can’t distinguish the pixels.” This means that increasing the resolution in this case becomes an unnecessary cost.

This is Apple’s original definition of “Retina display”, and the pixel density of the iPhone 4 screen has also reached 326ppi. At that time, Android phone makers were forced to replace all 720P that did not meet the retina screen standard with 1080P because of this Jobs concept. Subsequently, when Apple switched from LCDs to OLEDs, the pixel density increased to 450 PPI and that is what it uses until today.

Are 2K displays relevant for ordinary users?

In truth, ordinary users won’t need a 2K display. However, Android makers prefer to launch 2K displays in order to significantly increase the pixel density. So, it’s just a marketing gimmick and it doesn’t significantly improve the display. Generally, the screen performance will be the same. The 2K screen won’t be noticeably better than the display of iPhones at the moment.

Back to Apple. Is it really because Apple can’t match a 2K display, which is why it’s not using it? Probably not. The truth is that the 2K display is not necessary for Apple at the moment. When his marketing situation gets tough, he might just consider the 2K display as a marketing gimmick.

Theoretically speaking, 2K is really great, but to the human eye, as long as there is no graininess evident when looking at the cell phone from a normal distance, 2K is not necessary. Unless you use a microscope to view the screen or place the screen further away from the eyes, you won’t know the difference between a 2K smartphone and a 1080P smartphone. In truth, if you look closely, you can tell the difference at first glance. However, most people don’t look at their smartphones that way.

Another critical point, 2K screens generally consume more energy. Given Apple’s situation with its battery, it will naturally consider this point. With a 2K screen, Apple may need to increase the mAh of its devices as well as increase its fast charging capacity. The company probably isn’t willing to make these changes for a feature that won’t make a meaningful difference.


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