iPhone X OLED display burn-in: what's the danger and how to avoid it


Screen burn-in – even if you're not familiar with this age-old display issue, it clearly sounds like something you don't want your smartphone to suffer by. It is a problem that has been getting a lot of attention recently due to it affecting the Google Pixel 2 XL according to multiple reports, but it has the potential to manifest itself on just about any phone with an OLED display. This includes the iPhone X. Yes, even Apple's 1000$ marvel is not immune to screen burn-in, as its maker openly confirms. But what is screen burn-in exactly, and should iPhone X owners be worried in the slightest?

What is screen burn-in?

Screen burn-in (also known as display burn-in) was first observed on old-school CRT television sets and computer monitors – displaying a static image for prolonged periods of time would leave a faint yet permanent shadow in its place. Computer screensavers, which today have little purpose beyond serving amusement, were made specifically to prevent this from happening by filling the screen with moving objects.

Much like their vintage counterparts, OLED screens are susceptible to screen burn-in. That's because their pixels get dimmer as they age, and having certain pixels lit for longer than others causes uneven wear on the display, hence producing the undesired effect. In some cases, the "ghost" of an image would disappear on its own after a short while. This is called image retention and while it may be annoying, at least it isn't permanent. However, leaving the OLED screen static for too long would cause irreversible damage in the form of burn-in. The image below shows what that might look like on a Pixel 2 XL's OLED display – traces of the on-screen navigation are visible even after the image has changed.

How to avoid display burn-in on iPhone X?

All of today's OLED displays deteriorate over time, and so will the one on the iPhone X. However, yours will not necessarily end up with screen burn-in, or at least not until long-time use. To prolong its healthy lifespan and prevent any burn-in from ever occurring, here are some simple tips to follow:

  • Avoid displaying static images on your iPhone X for too long. This could be the case if you leave your GPS navigation app running for hours at a time or if you play a game where certain images are constantly shown on the screen.
  • Do not leave your iPhone X display lit if that's unnecessary. Hit that sleep button before you put it down on the table. 
  • Don't set an unnecessarily long auto-lock time. Go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Auto-lock and set a time of no more than a minute or two. 
  • Avoid using your iPhone X at maximum brightness for too long. Make sure that automatic brightness control is enabled by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations.

All in all, the TL;DR version of the story is that the iPhone X may be technically vulnerable to display burn-in, but if you take good care of yours and if you don't subject it to extremes, its screen should be fine. 


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