Severe headaches and nausea across different smartphones...

SIKSIK6

Standard Member
hi all,

I did check for existing threads, and this one is similar, except different... allow me to explain..

I have suffered with headaches on some devices, and previously arrived at the theory it's to do with PWM on OLED displays (mostly phones) that cause my issues. That certainly seems to fit when I look up the PWM rate of the devices that 'work' for me and ones that don't. (examples below).

However.. there are a couple of examples that disprove this theory which is annoying because it's difficult to know which products I can tolerate and which I can't..
Below is a list of displays that I'm fine with, and ones I'm not, and their PWM rates if I could find them.
You'll notice that I can use the Oneplus 8 Pro just fine, despite the fact the iPhone 12 Pro (which has a higher, less problematic PWM rate) kills my eyes.

Looks like Notebookcheck got the PWM value wrong, after looking here: Flicker, the display affliction - which means all the phones make sense.. but the BenQ monitor still doesn't!

I also thought it might be to do with refresh rate of the actual display, but all of the Samsungs in the list that don't work for me are 120hz, so that's not it either.

The BenQ monitor (on the list below) I've just bought has NO PWM at all, and has given me a headache using it for less than 10 minutes.

I have an optician's appointment booked to double check everything, but (anecdotally from others) hasn't produced much joy.

What IS going on?? The only 'safe' tech for me seems to be IPS. I've never had a problem with any IPS screen, however my current phone is the Pixel 5 and I can use that without any comfort issues for hours a day.

Any advice gratefully received :)

Displays that are all fine
LG monitor 27" (IPS) 27UL850-W
iPad pro 2018 11" (PWM 0 as it's IPS)
Acer K242HQK monitor
LG 65UN85006LA
Surface Laptop (IPS)

Displays that are too uncomfortable to use
BenQ EX3203R

Smartphones that are fine
iPhone 11 (PWM O as it's IPS)
Oneplus 8 Pro (PWM 258 481) corrected this as I think Notebookcheck got the PWM value wrong
Google Pixel 4 (PWM 367.6)
Google Pixel 5 (PWM 367.6)
Redmi X50 Pro (PWM 368)

Smartphones that are too uncomfortable to use
iPhone 12 (very bad) (PWM 226.2)
iPhone 12 Pro (PWM 277.8)
Samsung S20 FE 5G (both Exynos and Snapdragon variants) (PWM 227.3)
Samsung Fold 2 (PWM 219)
 
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EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
IPS is how the liquid crystal cells are constructed, as far as I'm aware it has no connection to the backlight (which is what the control frequencies you're quoting are for).

The most common cause of headaches would be having the monitor at too much contrast with it's surroundings - typically a bright monitor in a dim room but the reverse is also possible. It's worth trying different brightness settings on the screen just to make sure that's not the case.

Higher end gaming monitors do sometimes implement a once-per-frame flicker for the purposes of improving motion smoothness so if this monitor supports that make sure it's turned off. It's often called BFI, ULMB or backlight strobing generically, I don't know what BenQ are currently marketing it as).
 

SIKSIK6

Standard Member
Thanks for the reply - I'm certain in my case it's not to do with contrast VS surroundings.. although that can make my eyes tired, it doesn't invoke the immediate feeling of stress a low PWM display does.

So really there isn't much left to answer.. I can't use phones with a low PWM rate (unless they possibly have a DC dimming option), and I'd better stick to IPS monitors for now.

Sadly that rules out anything made by Apple or Samsung :(
 

finbaar

Active Member
Hmm. Have you looked at the make of each display panel that is either good or bad? I know Apple source parts from different manufacturers for the same phone. That might give you a clue a to what is going on.
IPS is only on low end moels these days so you're struggling there
 

SIKSIK6

Standard Member
Hmm. Have you looked at the make of each display panel that is either good or bad? I know Apple source parts from different manufacturers for the same phone. That might give you a clue a to what is going on.
IPS is only on low end moels these days so you're struggling there
There is a suggestion on the MacRumors forums that Apple use Samsung and LG displays on their 12 series iPhones, and this is only an issue with Samsung displays (the vast majority).

Sadly there's no way to tell which you'll get, or change it
 

Boostrail

Distinguished Member
There is a suggestion on the MacRumors forums that Apple use Samsung and LG displays on their 12 series iPhones, and this is only an issue with Samsung displays (the vast majority).

Sadly there's no way to tell which you'll get, or change it
Afaik Apple only use Samsung Amoled displays on series 12 and some other products. I dont think LG make phone or tablet size OLED displays.
 

SIKSIK6

Standard Member
Just to rule out the ‘need to get your eyes checked’ question, I’ve recently had my eyes tested, and had an updated prescription.. so everything is bang up to date and I still suffer from this.

Had to return the iPhone 13 pro :(
 

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