OnePlus will add DC dimming as an optional feature in a future update
OLED panels have been gaining popularity over the years, especially in the flagship segment, as well as a slow trickle down to the mid range segment as well. For all of its pros, OLED panels also have a few cons. One such negative is how the panels handle low brightness. Some users may have noticed how OLED panels begin to flicker when used in the lower brightness ranges. This is because these OLED panels utilize a technique called Pulse Width Modulation to control backlight brightness. PWM resorts to cycling the backlight on and off in rapid succession to control brightness, and the variation in this cycling is how brightness is controlled. We recommend reading this article from OLED-Info.com to know more about PWM, but this handy diagram encapsulates what PWM is, and how it relates to screen flickering at lower brightness levels:
At low brightness levels, the OLED panel will periodically emit a pulse of bright light. You usually set low brightness levels when your ambient brightness levels are low too, so these pulses of bright light become more noticeable as “screen flickering” in such conditions. Not all users can notice them, but these can cause eye strain irrespective of whether you can notice them or not.
OEMs have become conscious of the effects of PWM and have begun taking steps to provide alternate solutions like DC dimming, which is a more conventional method of dimming the OLED panel by adjusting the DC current, but at the cost of perceivable quality. Black Shark introduced DC dimming with the Black Shark 2, and Xiaomi also begun rolling out the feature to the Mi 9 in one of the newer MIUI betas. Several other OEMs like Meizu, Oppo and Vivo’s iQOO have also promised devices with this feature.
Now, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has mentioned on Weibo that OnePlus is also exploring DC dimming functionality. The demo within their development team has gone well, but there are limitations to DC dimming. As a result, the Chinese OEM is looking to provide this as an optional feature within OnePlus Laboratory or within the Developer Options, in a future update. An option would certainly be appreciated by users who experience eye strain and headache and would prefer prioritizing their health over display quality.