Lawsuit says Apple lied about the new iPhone XS screen size and resolution, but it's wrong
Here, we have a report of a lawsuit that alleges that Apple has lied about the screen sizes and resolution of the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. It was filed just this last Friday in the US District Court of Northern California by two plaintiffs, but they are seeking class-action status since, you know — it supposedly affects all new iPhone owners.
The suit points out that, when you subtract the area of the notch and the rounded corners of the iPhone X / XS / XS Max screens, you actually end up with a display that's smaller than Apple advertises. The iPhone X's screen is, in reality, not a 5.8-inch one, but a 5.68-incher, the lawsuit says. If you are interested in the math behind calculating the actual area these pesky cutouts steal from you — we covered it at length here.
Now, we can see how this can be somewhat of an annoyance and manufacturers often like to round numbers like screen size and screen-to-body ratio up a bit too much in their favor. But the fact is that Apple's specs page clearly says:
This is specified in a small footer in every iPhone XS page on Apple's website, so it's going to be a tough sell in court. Unless the plaintiffs have a specific situation with an Apple employee in a physical store insisting that the iPhone X has a 5.8-inch display, that is.
Next, we have an interesting complaint — the plaintiffs say that the iPhone X and XS actually have a lower screen resolution than what Apple says. See, these new OLED displays that Apple uses now don't have your typical RGB subpixels to create one full pixel. Instead, each pixel only has two subpixels and they alternate — one will be Red and Green, the next will be Blue and Green.
According to the plaintiffs, the fact that there are fewer subpixels on the screen is an actual lie about the overall resolution of the display.
First, let us introduce you to the Diamond-shaped PenTile matrix, which has been used by Samsung since the Galaxy S4 in 2013:
The new OLED panels in the new generation iPhones also happen to be made by Samsung.
By placing the subpixels in a diagonal pattern and alternating Red-Green-Blue-Green, manufacturers can make OLED panels that draw much less energy than your typical RGB subpixel screen, and also end up with panels that have a much longer life.
It is true that, since the subpixels are diagonally-placed and are shared between neighboring pixels, some tech pundits have called the PenTile pattern a "cheat"; a "not real" way to achieve a high resolution.
It is also true that, in the lower-resolution screens of the past, there was a visible difference when comparing a PenTile matrix to a classic RGB one. Nowadays, phones have so many pixels crammed in their displays that it's hardly such an issue.
But no rule or standard has been made to specifically state that RG BG pixels need to be counted as less than a full RGB pixel. In order to measure their resolutions, manufacturers use the standardized method by the Video Electronics Standards Association — line pairs need to have at least 50% of Michelson contrast (a 3:1 contrast ratio) between them.
Also, despite still being Diamond PenTile matrix-based, Samsung's Super AMOLED screens are praised as the best in the industry nowadays.
So... let's see how far this lawsuit gets!