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Apple Inc. Deserves More Respect

Respected technology reporter Mark Gurman recently published an article in Bloomberg, in which he goes over the key new features to expect in Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) upcoming iPhone with OLED display.

The thrust of the article, though, was that the new iPhone "won't be a case-study of innovation, more a matter of perfecting features that are already out there in rival devices." 

Image source: Apple.

While, on some level this is true, I think it dramatically understates the sheer level of technological innovation that Apple brings to the table as it "perfects" the technologies that its competitors delivered in earlier devices. 

In this column, I'd like to go over two areas mentioned by the article where Apple appears to be playing "catch up" but really isn't. 

"Nearly all-screen design"

The Gurman rightly observes that Apple isn't the first company to ready a "nearly all-screen design" for its phones, pointing to the Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) Galaxy S8 and the Essential Phone as examples of phones that beat Apple to the punch here. 

That's certainly true, but Apple's approach won't debut too far behind its rivals' (meaning that Apple isn't reacting to its rivals' decisions, since these phones are planned years in advance). 

Moreover, Apple seems to be going with a design that should deliver an even better screen-to-body ratio than the Galaxy S8's display will. It may possibly outdo the Essential Phone in this area as well. 

Apple only seems to be "following" Samsung and the Essential Phone in this way because its new iPhone models typically launch in the fall and not earlier. 

"OLED screen" 

It is also true that Apple is nowhere near the first to adopt organic light emitting diode-based display technology for its smartphones; it's actually way behind its rivals in adopting the technology. 

But, again, that doesn't mean that Apple wasn't innovating on display technology.

For example, the iPhone 7-series introduced displays that, in many ways matched or beat the best OLED-based mobile displays in the market across key display performance vectors, per testing performed by DisplayMate. 

Indeed, DisplayMate's testing showed that the iPhone 7's LCD is brighter in most scenarios than the Galaxy S8's OLED, and exhibited superior color accuracy. 

It's also worth noting that OLED displays have only recently gotten to the point where they are competitive with the best LCD technology; the OLED displays on the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, and S5 were often behind the LCDs on their Apple counterparts in many areas including color accuracy, brightness, and other metrics. 

If the OLED screen on this year's iPhone models is brighter than the iPhone 7/7 Plus LCDs, is at least as color accurate, and includes a zippy ProMotion display, then not only will Apple have "caught up" with the leading mobile OLED displays on the market, but it'll handily exceed them. 

That kind of innovation may seem somewhat trivial, but it is truly far from it. That's the kind of stuff that requires billions in annual research and development investment, as well as close collaboration with industry partners, to pull off. 

It's simply unfair, in my view, to paint this year's iPhone as anything less than a leadership device that'll likely raise the bar in several key areas if the rumor mill is correct. 

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Ashraf Eassa has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.