Updated: Is the backlight supposed to be blue? | iLounge News


Updated: Is the backlight supposed to be blue?

A new photo has been submitted by the same reader that started us on the blue backlight journey. This new photo shows a direct comparison of a new 30GB and a 15GB iPod. Click “Read more” for photo.

“Here is a comparison picture of my 30GB that I got about four days after its release, and a 15GB that was just shipped a few days ago. Both have the backlight on. It is very obvious that the backlight is white and dim on the left “older” 30GB iPod, and bright and blue on the right newer one [15GB]. Also the screen is MUCH clearer on the newer new iPod (although not in the picture, I took it with my Palm Zire71!).”


In our ongoing saga of “Is it white or is it blue?”, iLounger, Matthew S. emailed us the following:

“There are three photos of a 20GB iPod, using varying white balances.  ‘blue1’ is done using the ‘flash’ white balance preset (tungsten 4000K? I didn’t look it up), though without actually using the flash, ‘blue2’ using the ‘automatic’ white balance, and ‘calibrated’ done using calibrated white balance (uses a 50% grey card to set white balance appropriate to the conditions).  They were all shot with a Nikon D100 camera. (Click ‘Read more’ for the full report.)”




“The difference is pretty striking, and you’ll note that even in the manually calibrated version, there is a slight blue tint to the backlight - this is entirely expected as blue is the dominant colour in “white” LEDs.  The precise temperature of the LED varies widely between manufacturers (just try out a couple of different white-led flashlights to see).

The screen also appears quite blue to the naked eye when viewed from even a relatively slight angle.

The moral of the story: there are too many factors involved to make a realistic comparison.  Viewing angle, LED manufacturer, the camera’s white balance, ambient lighting conditions, and simply people’s varying perception of color.  Some iPods probably are blue, but the variations displayed are much more likely to be due to one or two of those reasons than they are to Apple creating a new hardware revision.”

An anonymous iLounger sent us an interesting bit of news about the latest new iPods and LCD backlight. Click here for a photo comparison.

“Yesterday at work (I work at the Apple Store) I had to put out another of the new iPods for demo on the floor (a 15GB). And to my surprise, it was different than every other iPod already out, and different than every one I have seen, including my own 30GB.

The screen was MUCH clearer. It appears to be the promised “new high resolution” screen. I turned the contrast way down and it was still quite visible and clear. And the kicker is that the backlight is BLUE (as promised and as is on the box) and not white. I held the “new” 15GB next to the “old” 15GB and it is quite obvious there is a new, better screen. It is SO much better than the iPods released a few weeks ago. I don’t know if all iPods being shipped have this new screen and backlight but I sure hope so. It is a much better screen.”

Our new 15GB has a white backlight as specified on Apple’s iPod Spec page, but the box and this iPod webpage indicates an iPod has a blue backlight. Is it just Apple’s way of enhancing the advertising photos for advertising’s sake? Or, are the new iPods supposed to have a blue backlight? Does your iPod have a blue backlight? Send us a photo.

Submitted by a reader. Not the same Apple Store iPod as mentioned above. (15GB iPod)

iLounge photo. (15GB iPod)

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White LEDs can vary a bit in color temperature from fairly white looking to blue looking (but definitely not as blue as a true blue LED).

Apple definitely hasn’t switched to blue LEDs on the newer ones, so perhaps they’ve switched suppliers of their white LEDs or what not.  Mine has enough of a blue hue to it that I could see it appearing as it does in those Apple photos with proper photo processing.

I’d like to see a photo of the “new” improved contrast screen though.  I received my 15gb iPod a week ago and the screen seems fine to me, but doesn’t have perfect contrast when the backlight is on (even after playing with the contrast level).

Posted by Mike in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 9:38 AM (CDT)


damn, i have a 15 gig ipod. the screen is clear and good looking, but it’s certainly nothing too special.

and it’s pretty sensitive to temperature, coldness making it lighter, and warm making it darker.

what a great way to encourage early adopters, if this is true.

Posted by ike in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 9:59 AM (CDT)


I for one am glad that the backlight is white not blue. White backlights are not common, blue is. If the iPod had a blue backlight it would look very common like a cell phone. I think the white is very distinctive and classy. As for the article about display iPods having higher resolution, that really ticks me off! Also the pictures could depict a blue screen if Apple played around with the white balance of their iPod photos.

Posted by mongoos150 in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 1:43 PM (CDT)


So is this iPod with the blue LED also static-pop-between-songs free and does it not switch right/left frequencies when you press pause? If so, I’m going to return mine.

Posted by steven in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 4:06 PM (CDT)


It looks blue to me, but I just got mine today.

Posted by Daniel Kaplan in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 5:14 PM (CDT)


Color differences also occur in different film exposures and type that is used. The slight blue tint has always been there to some extent.

Posted by pkradd in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 5:58 PM (CDT)


He might be right, but: isn’t it weird that a display model at the store have all that music on it? Also, I notice that the red light on the bottoms are dark red in the picture with the blue-ish screen, and pale orange in the picture with the white screen.

Finally, I don’t see any sign of “new high resolution” in the blue-ish picture. If the screen differs from the 160 by 128 resolution, it would be noticble, even in those pictures.

I think that there has been some Photoshoping going on here.

- Finnegan

Posted by Finnegan in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 7:16 PM (CDT)


never once have i heard any official word on “higher resolution”

higher contrast, however, i have. so this is most definately what the apple guy was getting at.

Posted by ike in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 7:30 PM (CDT)


what motive would someone have for photoshopping a pic? i hope people who have these very blue pods share more info. i’m curious if they are different in other ways. I know that MY new 15 GB is FAR more blue than the bottom picture (which isn’t blue at all), but not NEARLY as blue as the top picture. What’s with that? i admit that I am so anxious for my bugs to be resolved (i don’t consider the screen to be a bug, but if this pod looks more like the advertised pod maybe it acts more like it too) that I may be creating senerios in my head, but, whatever, let’s see what comes of this.

Posted by jaguar in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 7:33 PM (CDT)


The top photo was submitted by a reader and the bottom photo was taken by me in my closet. No Photoshoping. I added captions to the above photos for clearification. I’d like more readers to email me their photos of a blue backlight iPod.

Posted by Dennis Lloyd in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 7:37 PM (CDT)


Mine is like the bottom picture.

Posted by Darkbandit in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 8:31 PM (CDT)


I received a 30 gig last Friday in Tokyo (personalized). It is definitely the top blue backlite one. Where should I email a picture?

Posted by Justin in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 10:55 PM (CDT)


I just saw this article and was really baffled…i know some white LED’s have a bluish tint to them. I turned on my backlight to my ipod in the dark and I saw it was white., but hen I thought….the Apple Employee was in full florescent light in the store…I then turned on my light and then looked at the backlight…sure enough…it was bluish (and this is in regular lightbulb situations)....I think the backlight tends to look bluer in florescent lighting situations….ie: when you by a shirt at a store the colors look brighter then when you take it home or see it out in the sun. I’m sure under the massive usage the ipods recieve at the stores…the backlight might fade…of course a new ipod will look brighter than an old one that been on display in the public’s hand. Although…it still could be up for debate…and as far as the picture goes…dont trust it unless you see it with yoru own eyes.  Everyone try out the backlight in the dark then in the light and see if it looks bluer under lit conditions or not.

Posted by TrunksGoku in Irvine, CA on May 19, 2003 at 11:57 PM (CDT)


I submitted the top photo (the Crystal Method) one. At the same Apple Store I purchased my iPod at, all of the display models (15GB) also had noticably blue backlights. So blue, in fact, that I initially (and stubbornly) thought it was Indiglo. Then I realized it was an iPod, not a watch. :)

Posted by Matt in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2003 at 12:23 AM (CDT)


If that is the case then why is apple releasing different versions of the ipod then? IF thats the case then shouldnt we be entitled to get the same ipod?

Posted by TrunksGoku in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2003 at 12:43 AM (CDT)


Matt (and others who moan about this) - does your iPod play music OK? I guess the answer will be yes. If that is so then enjoy it and stop getting p*ssed off at something so trivial. Don’t give Apple such a hard time over every little thing. It’s like people defrauding on their insurance - for ever person who does it, insurance gets more expensive for everyone else. It’s the same with things like this. There’s nothing wrong with your iPod, it just behaves (in a very minor way) differently from some of the others out there. It doesn’t affect its primary functionality, so just be cool and enjoy it for what it is.

Posted by nick in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2003 at 2:52 AM (CDT)


Some of you keep saying that we should not bother over the minor flaws of the Ipod. But the fact that Apple offers misleading marketing, is a serious problem. People are entitled to expressing their opinion, evn on minor detail such as the colour of the backlight. I personaly think that minor problems on the Ipod only reflects a much larger an serious problem…..in this case misleading marketing of the most popular MP3 player in the world…..by far.

Posted by eric in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2003 at 3:16 AM (CDT)


Of course people are entitled to express their opionions, as indeed I am doing. My opinion is that something like the colour of the backlight is a very trivial matter, not worth getting worked up about, and definitely does not represent a flaw in the product, as you term it. The primary issue in my view is whether or not the device performs its primary function - which is to play audio tracks. If it does this OK then I think - once again - that you should give Apple a break on the very minor question of exactly what colour the backlight ends up being on any particular sample of the device. It just isn’t important.

Posted by nick in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2003 at 5:59 AM (CDT)


Nick - funny you should use that anology of insurance fraud.  It’s very similar to if you buy a blue car and get a white one, do you complain or sit there and shut up?  I for one am bothered.  I was also under the impression that the backlight was suppsoed to be blue as that is how it looked everywhere I saw it, on tv, on apple’s website, on the box.  The fact remains that as a consumer, I have every right to complain about the product I purchase.  The consumer is always right, even when he or she is wrong.  okay, that last one was a joke, but I’m upset.  This was something I noticed right when I opened mine up, but didn’t say anything because a rep at the Apple store told me the same line you did.  Now that more users are experiencing the same situation, I feel the need to voice my concern.  Five hundred dollars doesn’t just fly out of my pocket as easily as it does yours.  When I pay for something, I expect to get exactly what I paid for and I expected a blue backlight.

Posted by Alex Bratu in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2003 at 6:22 AM (CDT)


By god! the body of the iPod in the lower photo is black!  Mine is white! What’s going on here!

Don’t be daft - there are not two versions of the iPod out there; at the very most there are two versions of the backlight, easily attributable to a difference in the white LEDs used to light it.  It’s just as likely that most of the difference is from white balance in the cameras used - most digital cameras using automatic white balance go really wonky in low-light situations.

If you want to say it’s a case of “misleading marketing” I’d say to you “caveat emptor”.  Then, since I’m feeling pedantic, I’d give you a lecture about needlessly multiplying entities and how to apply Ockham’s Razor.

Posted by Matt in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2003 at 6:41 AM (CDT)

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