Tim Cook calls Samsung’s OLED screens “awful”, says they’re not very bright

by: ŠtefanFebruary 12, 2013

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, is currently giving a talk right now at the Goldman Sachs’ Technology and Internet conference. Normally we wouldn’t care about this, but Tim just said something that got under our skin. Here’s the full quote:

“When you look at displays, some people are focused on size. There’s a few other things about the display that are important. Some people use OLED displays, the color saturation is awful. The Retina display is twice as bright as an OLED display. I only bring these points up to say there are many attributes to the display, and what Apple does is sweat every detail. We care about all of them and we want the best display, and I think we’ve got it. I’m not gonna comment about what we’re gonna do in the future, but it’s always broader than that which can be defined by a simple number.”

It’s clear that by “some people” he actually means Samsung. So is Tim right? This is going to upset some of you, but we kind of agree with him. Look, Samsung’s OLED screens are great. This writer just got himself a second generation Note and is in total love, but there’s still something to be said about a display that’s properly calibrated.

We can only dream of the day that Samsung starts properly calibrating their high end displays. Maybe they’ll start with the GS4? That’s not to say that OLED is awful, but even the hardcore Samsung fans have to admit that they’re a bit … off.

Now as for which Android device has the best screen currently on the market, that’s an easy answer: HTC’s Butterfly. That phone uses LCD panels from Sharp and JDI. We know Samsung knows how to make stunning panels, just one look at a Nexus 10 is all you need, so here’s hoping they bring that talent to their OLED unit.

  • Newb Cybot

    Discrimination based on screen colour is screen racism.
    Shame on Tim Wook for that :-)

    • On a Clear Day

      Let’s call Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton; they never saw a headline they didn’t want to be part of, perhaps even this!

      • Arturo Carter


  • fwadd

    The screen on my Galaxy S2 is awesome.

    • kascollet

      Yes, Amoled Plus is great, but isn’t available yet in high-res panels (no true RGB even pixel distribution on GS3 & Note2).

      • Arman vali

        actually Note 2 is RGB , but its subpixels are not in the same size and direction.. but GS3 is RGBG pentile as you said…

  • Jusephe

    Samsung can’t calibrate color, because green oleds are more efficient than red and much more than blue- that’s why all Amoleds have greenish tint- it will consume less battery

  • TY

    OLED displays consume much more juice than LCD ones most of the time, unless you are using dark themes for most of the apps, or don’t mind viewing web pages with a black background and white text (which you have to do manually…) Plus the burn-in issue exists. More importantly, Most AMOLED screens’ colours are way off than when displayed on a color chart, especially when compared to iphone’s, or LG phone’s, carefully calibrated LCD displays. OLED screens are not bad at all, but I personally prefer LCD display.

    • FrillArtist

      Well said. Unfortunately, the Samsung fanboys are too blind to see this.

  • The iPhone’s screen is really better in color calibrations, white balance and brightness. But the Samsung’s SIII and Note II are far away from awful. Not because something isn’t the best that it will be the worst piece of crap!

  • yahyoh

    tim cook need to eat cock and STFU

    • MasterMuffin

      Little over?

    • feres13

      Even if apple buys displays so what? Appke decides if they want an amoled screen, an ips screen… samsung and LG are just manufacturing. And BTW LG makes the iPhone 5 display and they do that because they know they will sell tons of them and get tons of money from apple, so the fact that the iPhone or the iPad’s screen is made by LG or Samsung or sharp doesn’t mean they’re and worse when compared to some screens on the market : My nexus 4’s screen doesn’t have as good veiwing angles as my iPhone 5’s and doesn’t get as bright or as saturated.

      • you missed the point entirely …

    • MasterMuffin

      Little over?

      edit: Your edit makes more sense, just delete that comment and write the second part again and then you have a smart and good comment :)

  • How can he honestly say they’ve got the best display when they can’t even watch a video in HD because of their “Retina display?”

  • MasterMuffin

    I prefer AMOLED because of the contrast and battery friendliness and I actually like the weird colors :) Tim Cook is just mad because he’ll get fired soon because Apple is going down :P

    • Ivan Budiutama

      you sir, constantly make my day, here take my like.

      On serious note, the reason OLED is great because the power-friendly. I mean, look at how TFT screwed up on the battery life, I can’t be really sure about XZ new TFT, but obviously, out of all AMOLED display still have the best power-friendly feat. My problem with AMOLED is that it is too contrast to my taste.

      • Guest

        thanks :D But some kind of screen protector that is really shiny/something so that nobody can see your secret stuff?

        • On a Clear Day

          Obviously the more quality we can be given the better – but really, we are talking about a little, itty bitty screen – even on something like the Note. Now if we were going to watch the Superbowl on it as opposed to a 72 in flat screen, maybe one might have cause for concern, but unless you have them side by side, who could actually tell the difference once you’re using it?

          I think Tim Cook’s statement is just one lame effort on Apple’s part to try to suggest that they actually have something worth caring about having! lol

          Which in my opinion they definitely do not.

        • MasterMuffin

          What are you thanking for? :)

      • MasterMuffin

        Thanks :D Too much is always better than insufficient amount?

    • best reply ever ! :P If Tim had balls, maybe he would have gotten rid of stupid lawsuit wars and concentrated on what’s important !

      • On a Clear Day

        But…, but that would have meant they would have had to create something, work hard to provide real value, not hype value, much easier to take some of that 100 plus billion dollars they have squirreled away and pay a law firm to do its best to hamstring the competition so they don’t have to bother to run as fast to keep up.

        Yep, Apple will be going down, and it may not take too long. Most companies formerly lead by truly brilliant (even if not very nice) charismatic leaders, who weren’t able to cultivate inspiring powerful associates or, who didn’t like having such associates around because they represented a threat to their own ego and sense of “it’s all about me”, end up starting their tailspin to disaster within about 24 to 48 months of the departure or demise of their “genius”.

        Tim Cook – as it has been pointed out countless times – ain’t Steve Jobs.

        and, Apple is now $300.00 per share +/- less than it was at it height and its products aren’t selling like they hoped they would; surprise, surprise, surprise (channel Gomer Pyle).

        Thus, you see Apple taking pot shots at silly things, just like Microsoft is wasting resources trying to defame Gmail in hopes of leading people to Outlook.

    • Arman vali

      @mastermuffin:disqus I think you are wrong about battery friendliness of AMOLED. IPS requires less energy for maximum brightness, in same brightness the difference will be much higher. check displaymate.com tests to find out. but I think AMOLED use less energy for showing dark scenes or dark backgrounds.

      • intvidia

        You could be right, Note 2 has a pitiful battery life when set to max brightness, and the max brightness is not even very bright.

      • MasterMuffin

        Well it always depends on usage, but luckily many android apps are black (but web pages are white :()

      • stndspec

        I like a clean look to my devices and started using a black background on my Nexus S and have continued on Note 2. OLED uses no power when displaying black regardless of screen brightness settings. Battery life is significantly improved in my experience.

        Also, @intvidia Note 2 battery life even on full brightness without a black background is hardly pitiful.. it’s downright hard to kill actually, I have really tried!

    • FrillArtist

      Stop drinking the amoled koolaid.

    • lol apple ain’t going down any time soon, there are too many high school girls out there… And it is all personal preference, I prefer the LCD in HTC devices because of the bright colors, some prefer the AMOLED for better contrast. To each and his own, Tim Cook is just a retard.

      • rugbydon

        yeah I also prefer s-lcd in htc phone. its more vivid. too bad their battery is disappointing..
        I plan to get samsung amoled phone on next christmas..

        • My EVO LTE gets a day or two on CM10.1, the batteries are fine that is just a side effect of sense slowing the phone down and killing the battery

      • CyBrix_21

        Girls like iPhone as much as they like Cute boys… When they see it, they are almost dead… They are crazy with the design…

    • vampyren

      Same here, i like the look and feel of AMOLED and size does matter, this dude has been smoking to many ……

  • Eka

    apple’s screen is too bright. my eyes will be getting sore if I look into it too long.

  • satsmine2k4

    Spare him!!! He is too old to “see” the brighter side of Life…let alone Samsung OLED’s…

  • I would take the deep rich blacks and vibrant color saturation on the Galaxy Note 2’s Super AMOLED display, over any that uses the LCD technology. You see, I can sit here and say that the Galaxy Note 2’s display is better than any LCD or Super LCD display but its subjective and is my opinion. Its the same for all of you saying LCD is better than OLED. What floats my boat, doesn’t float yours and it is my preference that I don’t like the washed out feel of LCD technology. That’s the beauty of Android though. We have an choice, unlike Apple… They tell you what you should like and how much you should pay for it. Perhaps Tim Cook should be more concerned about the tumbling share value of his company, rather that acting like a complete douche bag. Apple clearly fear the worlds largest innovators and smartphone manufacturer Samsung, and this only serves to prove this correct. You had fun whilst it lasted Tim, but to coin a phrase “what goes up, must come down”

  • yahyoh

    if anyone care to see the difference :http://www.adslgate.com/dsl/showthread.php?t=1453003
    go to page 2 there is more images too

    look how shitty IP5 screen compared to Note2 :D

  • So I need to be Apple fan in order to follow you on G+? Really, blocked on your G+ page for blaming Apple ? Did I said something against Android Authority staff or any other member ? You should be shame.

  • IncCo

    Honestly guys who cares what Tim Cock says, he is obviously going to be biased…

    • FrillArtist

      Not if he’s saying the truth. Samsung screens are not very good.

      • IncCo

        They are good, they just arent calibrated correctly.

      • CArlo

        Well, not everything is perfect!

      • Nuryn

        Goodness is a function of acceptance. Samsung screen r perfectly Ok and accepted just the way they’re, so good they’re. Sorry Tim-Cooked…

  • mrband

    To compare LCD screens with OLED is stupid and Timmy the Cook knows it.

  • kascollet

    All true. Maximum brightness on GS3 & Note2 is below 300nits compared to 500+ on iphone5. Same goes for color accuracy and power consumption (at equivalent brightness). OLED isn’t yet a mature technology but when it’ll be so, it’ll be thanked to Samsung’s effort !

  • JR

    LOLS how can he say that, that RETINA display is twice as brighter as the OLED.. let him try to compare the S3 to 4s or even to Ip5.. put the brightness of the phone to the lowest, it will shows that S3 has a brighter screen than any apple phones..

    • kascollet

      Brightness comparison is mostly relevant at max setting : to illustrate the ability of the screen to be readable in direct sunlight. In this department, well, Samsung’s OLED is not good.

    • FrillArtist

      Sorry but the iphone screen beats the living daylights out of the S3.

  • Netto

    “but it’s always broader than that which can be defined by a simple number.”
    I take it this means that in terms of raw specs, apple’s retina displays won’t win against a lot out there but they are “better according to *insert marketing gimmick here*”

    • Jimmy

      They’re, well, Magic™

  • Bone

    “They are not very bright” – no pun intended? :)

  • hoggleboggle

    I agree on the calibration issue – I wish more manufacturers calibrated their screens properly or offered a way of doing so by the end user, but other than that I think he is talking out of his backside if he thinks the iphone display looks better than what Samsung and the others have on offer. My colleague has an ihpone 5 and the screen, whilst very sharp, looks decidedly dull and lifeless compared to even my old GS2, let-alone the Note 2.

  • Filip Justin

    The OLEDs offer something that an LCD doesn’t.. That’s infinite contrast. I’m willing to take that any time of the day..

  • cookey235

    Cook says OLED is not very bright….but what disadvantages has Retina he didn”t mention. WHY??! Well Apple want you to know only those things that gives them advantage over the others but doesnt talk about the “awfullness” of their products.

  • FrillArtist

    I’m a hardcore Android fan and I FULLY agree with him. Having used a Galaxy Nexus and an S3, I can say that Samsung’s screens are crap. Pixelation, dull, over saturated colors and poor HD. Currently on a Nexus 4 and never going back to Samsung ever again.

  • brendan soliwoda

    I love the AMOLED and OLED screens samsung produce. I Have the GN2 which is a simply stunning display to say the least. And I just recently got a 42′ OLED Tv from Samsung and I am at a lose for words. Coming from a Haier LCD tv to a Samung is like coming into warm weather after a cold harsh winter. Takes my breath away every time I see it. I will admit samsung, especially when it comes to screen’s from their smartphones, could do better and the AMOLED screen is oversatured, but it works for me. I would gladly take rich and oversaturated blacks to the bright whites that LCDs have to offer. But, to each his own right? As for Mr. Cook’s comment, when was the last time his company actually produced the screen for their own phones. Ow, that’s right, they buy them from Sharp and LG.

  • kim il jung

    did anyone actually think or believe that tim fook was going to say anything positive on stage ? think people, think !

  • intvidia

    I got sick from the over saturated colors on my Note 2, it was so bad that i was afraid of using the phone, i had to scroll very fast past pictures in the facebook feed, it was just too terrible, i could not look at it, so ridiculous and looked more than a little retarded. But then i found the saturation setting and when set to movie it was almost like a normal display, i can live with it now.

    I like the amoled contrast between very bright and total black, but it has poor contrast between dark grey and darker grey, for example. My sony ericsson with mobile bravia engine had a lot better detail in dark scenes than the Note 2. For sure its not a 16M color display, i am 101% sure that Samsung is lying about that. A lab test with the proper equipment would easily expose the 16M as a scam but who cares, we can all see it and agree on it, these displays are really not very good. But it beats the tiny displays of iphones any day.

  • paxmos

    What else is he going to say???

  • Bin Zhao

    I don’t like this guy, Attacking on your competitor doesn’t make your product better. Apple used to be great company, but now just ruined in his hand.

    • Stfu

      Stfu retard. What the hell do you think Samsung does to Apple.

      • Create superior products while Apple focuses on patent lawsuits and attacking competitors?

  • Wow, how far apple has fallen. This comment strikes me that apples knows they are losing and are more focused on the opposition than themselves. Shame apple.

  • john

    Tim Cook, you are making a fool of yourself.

    Advantage of LCD over OLED is the reflectiveness pure and simple. You will notice if you bring your phone outside and see that OLED screens tends to be much darker. This is because they have poor reflectiveness therefore the outside visibility of OLED phones are purely dependent on OLED back lights. In contrast, LCD phones can use small amount of external light to reflect the colors, therefore back light doesn’t have to be quite as bright.

    AMOLED actually have greater brightness possible because a) the light source is much closer to the screen itself, b)have lower opacity than the LCD.

  • Mark

    Oh look what they did with the iPad mini………….. I guess they forgot to sweat some details there.

  • I love Samsung’s AMOLED displays precisely because of the rich saturation. Twice I’ve owned the iPhone 5, and twice I left it for the Note 2. Tim Cook is in denial about the consumers’ appetite for larger displays, and it sounds like Apple is going to fall further behind that power curve with another timid screen bump. Most iPhone users that i know now have altered their behavior from what it typically was for iPhone users not very long ago. They have started to look like BlackBerry users looked in the past couple of years, meaning – gone is all the flash and glowing pride of whipping out the hottest device on the market. Tim Cook can be as arrogant about that as he wishes.

  • Carlo

    He only said that so that he is bitter! He is also desperate! I prefer samsung’s OLED screen! because it is not too bright! it has the right amount of contrast and saturation. And because of that it does not cause to much battery power… He is just desperate and he is trying too fool people again like the thing that he has succesfully done with the iPhone 5 or should i say iPoop 5! xD

  • Carlo

    Let’s face it! apple is nothing without Steve jobs! I miss him!

  • tom

    Tim, You even don’t have OLED technology…

  • stndspec

    Mr. Cook has failed to preserve the reality distortion field.. he’s waiving his hands Obi-wan style over the imminent future of screen tech, telling us it’s not the future we’ve been looking for.. and he looks silly doing it. (also insecure.)

  • Roberto Tomás

    Tim Cook can be a real idiot sometimes

  • tim cook=drowning man cry baby cry

  • but your toy tim use crappy components,timcook=drownman desperation!!!!

  • bashing competition , very low low low tim have you considered joining steve

  • CyBrix_21

    Tim Cook have nothing to do… So he keep on bashing Samsung and other Android phone manufacturers…

  • Nuryn

    Goodness is a function of acceptance. Samsung screens r perfectly Ok and accepted just the way they’re, so good they’re. Cant u see how must apple users struggle to cope with the brightness? Eyez soars with apples! Sorry Tim-Cooked…!!

  • I say Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook is awful, not very bright.

  • DaveT

    It’s not often I’ll agree with the Apple camp, and I’ve owned AMOLED screens before with no issue but there’s something about the screens in the S3 and the Note2 that makes eyes bug out, it could be the PWM dimming, it could be the pentile display, I’m not sure but all I know is Samsungs current screens are a deal breaker for me.