I interact and distract — Mobile screen considerations

Outside browsing the grams

After posting my last article about choosing a new monitor, I received some questions regarding a good choice for a mobile device or screen. Not unsurprisingly, as I also use my phone more frequently than a computer.

The thing is, that I already bought a new phone about six months ago. And at that time I wasn’t aware of the different screen limitations and techniques 🙄 Most of the monitor insights however, also apply to mobile screens as they largely use the same technology. So inherently they are subject to the same drawbacks, like “flicker”. Huh what is flicker?! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please check out my previous article here which goes more in depth

👉 Read : As a deer in the headlights — New monitor considerations

Nevertheless I did slightly change the way I use my phone after the new insights. So here is a quick rundown of stuff I do to help brain out a little bit. Focused exclusively on mobile screens. I don’t have any experience with Android devices so most of the info is primarily aimed at Apple/iOS, although the parity between the two platforms will ensure that these tips probably will be applicable for both.

First thing is checking the flicker (test) data, preferably before buying 😅The most comprehensive overview I could find regarding this subject is at Notebookcheck [1]. Luckily in hindsight my new-ish iPhone SE 2020 is a great choice, as it tested flicker free 😏

iPhone model flicker data © notebookcheck.net

The data is not exclusive to Apple devices or mobile phones for that matter, you can even check out laptops and monitors which is also very handy of course. Highly recommended 😎

As you may already understand that flicker is a complicated subject and which can be influenced by a lot of factors like for instance the brightness . So it may be worth your while to search for your phone’s optimal setting. See the video below for a great example of how a brightness can influence flicker.

As you can see, the iPhones that use an OLED display don’t fare so well. As their flicker frequency is quite high this may not be an issue for everyone. However after some googling I definitely found anecdotal reports of increased eye strain and headaches when upgrading to this iPhone version from a previous flicker free one. So for me, given the choice I would opt for a flicker free one from the list 😉

iOS switching on Night Shift
How to switch on Night Shift © Apple

I always use night shift mode, even during the day. Night Shift automatically adjusts the colors of your display to the warmer end of the spectrum, making the display easier on your eyes. You do lose some of the contrast and vibrancy, but who cares. My selfies are still majestic 🦄

iOS greyscale mode
iPhone with greyscale mode activated © Metablog

I use accessibility features to quickly switch to different color settings. When I have to read from my phone I like to keep the colors to a minimum as it doesn’t add anything and limits my ability to focus. That’s why I created a shortcut (three presses of the home button) to switch to greyscale mode. It’s super easy and quick to do so I actually use it all the time [2].

An unexpected side effect of using grayscale mode is the reduction of time I mindlessly spend scrolling on social media. Probably this has something to do with the fact that when everything is not super vibrant, and poppin’. My brain thinks “Why am I looking at this shit…? Go outside!” 

Before and after iPhone color filter
Difference when a red color filter is applied © UOS Assistive Technology

You can also use accessibility features to change the color filter to reduce blue light [3]. Blue light is something that can disturb your sleep-wake cycle, especially at night. Unfortunately you can only have one color filter shortcut as far as I know of, so I opted for the greyscale mode as I use that more often.

Switching iOS to Dark Mode
Switching between Light and Dark Mode © Apple inc.

I always use Dark Mode when possible. Dark Mode is aimed at a better and easier viewing experience during low light conditions. However I noticed that for me it feels better all the time 😉 Keep in mind that sometimes you have to set this separately for an application.

So that’s the quick rundown regarding mobile screens. If you have any other suggestions please let me know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *