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It's not your imagination: Smartphones are getting brighter

The brightness trend is affecting the low, mid, and high-end markets.

Published onApril 13, 2023

samsung galaxy S23 plus front
Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority
  • A study has found that smartphones are increasingly getting brighter year after year.
  • Premium smartphones in 2022 saw a 171% YoY jump in brightness.
  • The trend is starting to spread to low- and mid-priced smartphones.

Have you ever taken a moment to think about the brightness of your phone? We went from having to find shade to use our phones outside to having displays that are almost bright enough to use as flashlights. And it seems manufacturers are still trying to bump up the brightness further. It’s not just your imagination, smartphones are getting brighter every year.

A new study from Counterpoint Research has revealed some interesting trends related to smartphone brightness. According to the report, the increased role smartphones play in content consumption has led to growing consumer interest in brighter displays. Manufacturers have taken notice of this, causing competition over brightness to ramp up.

It appears that a third of the premium smartphone market — any phone over $600 wholesale — had a brightness rating of over 900 nits in 2022. The firm points out that this is a 171% YoY jump. This is partly attributed to steady iPhone sales, but also Chinese manufacturers wanting to create premium devices that can compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung played a part too.

2022 vs 2021 Global Premium Smartphone Display Brightness Share 1024x682 1

The trend doesn’t just affect the premium market either, it seems this philosophy is starting to trickle down to the low- and mid-range markets as well.

Samsung has not only significantly increased the adoption of brightness exceeding 700 nits in its premium smartphones, but it has also brought down the share of brightness below 450 nits in its low-to-mid priced smartphones by about 20% in 2022.

In 2021, 90% of Samsung’s low- to mid-range phones reportedly had a brightness of below 450 nits. This means there was a 13% increase in low- to mid-range phone brightness in 2022.

As brightness becomes a selling point, it’s important to remember that brightness can be a drain on the battery. This brightness movement will likely have to plateau at some point to strike a balance with battery life.

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