OnePlus to add DC dimming feature in a future update to tackle OLED screen flicker

DC dimming is a way by which backlight is dimmed by adjusting DC current drawn by the display.

Once a feature only on high-end flagship smartphones from Samsung, OLED panels are becoming increasingly popular in 2019 and a number of affordable flagships are already sporting OLED display these days.

But OLED screens aren't all perfect even though they do offer better colours than LCD displays. One negative attribute of OLED panels is how they often begin to flicker when brightness is reduced. Why does that happen?

OnePlus to add DC dimming feature in a future update to tackle OLED screen flicker

A close-up of the OnePlus 6T's display. Image: Tech2/Anirudh Regidi

Well, as per a report by XDADevelopers, OLED panels use a technology called Pulse Width Modulation or PWM to control backlight brightness. While PWM is effective in controlling the amount of visible backlight, it does cause the screen to flicker. At low brightness levels, the OLED panel essentially emits a pulse of bright light periodically, causing the flicker.

While most of us don't notice this flicker since the human eye usually does not see anything that flickers faster than about 60 Hz, a number of us do happen to be more sensitive, especially in a dim environment. One solution to this drawback is DC dimming – a way by which the panel backlight is dimmed by adjusting DC current drawn by the display.

PWM explained in a simple diagram. Image: OLED Info

PWM explained in a simple diagram. Image: OLED Info

OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has taken to his Weibo account to state that OnePlus is also exploring DC dimming as a way to tackle PWM flicker. The demo within their development team appears to have been successful, but he does note that there are limitations to DC dimming.

As a result, OnePlus is looking to provide this as an optional feature within OnePlus Laboratory or within the Developer Options, in a future update. No other details were divulged in the post, but OnePlus users who do have an issue with their screen flickering at low brightness levels will be glad knowing this.

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