Understanding iPhone Displays: Hard OLED vs. Soft OLED

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As an iPhone repair shop specializing in keeping your beloved device in top shape, we often get questions about the different types of displays used in iPhones. Particularly, there’s a lot of curiosity around “hard OLED” and “soft OLED” displays. 

If you’re an iPhone user who doesn’t dive deep into the world of iPhone parts and repairs, this is for you. Let’s demystify these terms and help you understand what’s lighting up your iPhone screen.

What Are OLED Displays?

First things first, let’s talk about OLED. Standing for organic light-emitting diodes, OLED technology is a step up from the traditional LCD (liquid crystal display) screens. In an OLED display, each pixel emits its own light, which means no need for a backlight. This leads to deeper blacks, more vibrant colors, and a more dynamic display.


Hard OLED refers to OLED displays built on a rigid glass substrate. Think of it as a solid foundation for the screen. This is the traditional way of making OLED screens and has been widely used in various electronic devices, including earlier iPhone models.

Pros of Hard OLED

  1. Cost-effective. Hard OLEDs are cheaper to produce, thanks to their well-established manufacturing process. This also makes them more affordable to repair or replace.
  2. Thin and light. They are thinner and lighter, which can be a plus for the overall design and feel of your iPhone.
  3. High-quality display. Like any OLED, they offer excellent color reproduction and contrast ratios.

Cons of Hard OLED

  1. Less flexible. The rigid nature means they could be more prone to cracking if the phone is dropped.
  2. Potentially more fragile. The glass substrate, while sturdy, can be a downside if the phone experiences a harsh impact.


On the flip side, we have soft OLED displays, which are built on a flexible plastic substrate. This is a newer approach in the world of OLED displays and has been featured in some of the latest iPhone models.

Pros of Soft OLED

  1. Durability. The flexibility means they can absorb impact better, reducing the risk of cracking from drops.
  2. Advanced display quality. While both types of OLEDs offer great display quality, soft OLEDs can push the envelope further, especially in terms of color accuracy and viewing angles.
  3. Innovative design. Their flexibility opens up possibilities for more innovative phone designs.

Cons of Soft OLED

  1. Higher cost. The newer technology and materials used in soft OLEDs make them more expensive to manufacture and, consequently, to repair or replace.
  2. Prone to burn-in. Like all OLEDs, but perhaps more notably in soft OLEDs, they can suffer from burn-in over time, where remnants of images linger on the screen.

Which One Is in Your iPhone?

Apple has used both types of displays in different models. For instance, older models like the iPhone X and XS feature hard OLED screens, while newer models have transitioned to soft OLED for their improved flexibility and durability.

Repair Considerations

As an iPhone repair shop, we see the practical implications of these two technologies. Hard OLED screens are more cost-effective to repair or replace. However, they can be a bit more fragile. While soft OLEDs might survive a drop better, if they do need repair, it’s going to be pricier.

What Should You Choose?

When you’re choosing your next iPhone, the type of OLED might not be the first thing on your mind, but it’s good to know. If you’re someone who values screen quality and durability, and doesn’t mind a potentially higher repair cost, a soft OLED model might be your pick. 

If you’re looking for something more cost-effective, especially in terms of potential repairs, then a model with hard OLED could be more up your alley.

Protecting Your iPhone Screen

Regardless of the type of OLED display, protection is key. We always recommend using a high-quality screen protector and a sturdy case. Accidents happen, but a little precaution goes a long way in keeping your screen intact.


Both hard and soft OLED displays offer their unique benefits. As technology evolves, we’re seeing more advancements in display technology, making your iPhone experience better and brighter. 

Remember, no matter the type of display, regular care and protection are essential. And if you ever find yourself in need of an iPhone repair, you know where to find us! We’re here to help keep your iPhone looking as good as new, no matter what screen it’s sporting.

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