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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Hey Trunks - I’ve got nothing but (annoying) fluorescent lights in my office. Now, I never reallly noticed the tint of my backlight until I read this article. After some careful examination of viewing the screen in fluorescent light vs. natural ambient light (sunlight, if you prefer =)  I can definitely attest to the fact that it DOES look bluish under the fluorescent lights! Not SUPER blue, but pretty damn close to the blue in the picture. When under ambient natural light, though, it’s not exactly white - mine is somewhere between the color of the ‘blue’ pic and the ‘white’ pic. Interesting.

Posted by Justin D on May 20, 2003 at 7:23 AM (CDT)


This is just a Wild Ass Guess, but maybe Apple had a bunch of old iPod screens in inventory that they used in the new iPods. Now that the old inventory is gone they’re putting in a different screen & backlight. Or maybe it’s just a slightly different light…

I’d love for Apple to use Indiglo in the iPod. When that came out originally I couldn’t wait for my old watch to die so I could get one with Indiglo.

Posted by MostlyHarmless on May 20, 2003 at 7:42 AM (CDT)


You can see that the blue/white color balance is a photography artifact between these shots.  The color red is less blue in the ‘white’ shot as well. I have a feeling if you corrected for the red LEDs to be the same color, you would see backlights the same color.

Until a photo is posted with BOTH the apparent variations in screens in the same shot, the discussion is moot.

Posted by thumbtwidller on May 20, 2003 at 8:08 AM (CDT)


Guys… You’re all missing the obvious. I have an old style iPod, and dependng on under what lighting conditions I view it, the LCD screen goes from as ble as you are reporting to stark white. Same with pictures of it using different white balances on my digital cameras.

What I’m saying is that this whole debate is over nothing but how colors are viewed under different lighting conditions by different people’s eyes. If the old iPod can look as striking blue under the right lighting conditions, then it is clear that the same phenomenon is happening with the new ones.

Posted by Devolution on May 20, 2003 at 9:27 AM (CDT)


The old ipod screens had a banding pattern effect when viewed from the top and from the bottom, and the vertical bands changed depending on the amount of text being displayed.  The new ipods don’t have this “problem”, so if your new ipod doesn’t have these bands, then consider it the new and improved better resolution screen.

Also, if you look at the blue Crystal Meth ipod, you can see the three LEDs shining from the left, which could also be seen with the old ipods.  With the new ipods, you can’t really tell where the LED’s are located, like in the bottom Moby ipod.

The old ipods also had a very blue/purplish backlight color when viewed under medium and bright fluorescent light, such as at an Apple Store.  The new ipod’s are a lot whiter in color, so maybe the “blue” backlight is using the old LEDs.

Posted by Phil on May 20, 2003 at 1:19 PM (CDT)


this is funny to me, if you all think it is photoshopped, and apple is using different flash’s in the their pictures, then shouldnt they, who are the buisness and the pro’s photoshop theirs to make it looks as it does. what if you bought a 12 inch powerbook and you got a white one in stead. holy crap, you have an ibook. false advertising

Posted by Andreas on May 20, 2003 at 1:20 PM (CDT)


phil, you are mistaken about the Crystal Meth ipod, what you say about the LEDs shining from the left is actually wrong because the dark areas are caused by the shadow of the fingers of the holder of the ipod…

Posted by suwatch in ct on May 20, 2003 at 3:48 PM (CDT)


I called Apple this afternoon and of course I wasn’t probably told the truth, but am just posting what I was told. First, I was asked if I had been reading rumor sites and I said I had saw a couple of posts about it on a message board that I read. I then asked him if they were supposed to blue screens. He said that he hadn’t seen any blue screened iPods. Before I hung up, I asked him about the clicks between songs and he said that they know about it and are working on it, along with some other problems and that a firmware update would be out soon, but he wouldn’t say how soon that would be.

Posted by Darkbandit in Charleston, SC on May 20, 2003 at 4:47 PM (CDT)


Uhm… peeps, if you look carefully at the photos posted by Matthew S. you can see that the iPod in these pics is actually the old iPod… I guess these pics are irrelevant to the topic in hand! We’re talkin bout the new iPod’s here… the one with the the promised high resolution! I guess thats all that matters in the end.

Posted by phester in TX on May 20, 2003 at 6:49 PM (CDT)


Does your iPod suffer from the bugs others have complained about?

Posted by jaguar on May 20, 2003 at 6:56 PM (CDT)


I believe that he is just trying to state that the Backilght can be different with different settings on cameras.

Posted by BlueBooby on May 20, 2003 at 7:04 PM (CDT)


Ok, sorry for the inconvenience that is going to be taking place in the near future, but the option that everyone can comment on news and things is coming off either tonight or tommorow, whenever I get the time to do it.

Editor’s Note: This was not posted by iPodlounger, commenting is not being turned OFF, but I did edit and/or delete offensive comments as you can see.

Posted by iPodlounge on May 20, 2003 at 7:11 PM (CDT)


Wow, the new iPod’s have a bluish/whitish tinted LED. Looking at my OLD iPod, under certian lights it looks blue also. Amazing.

It’s just a different perception of the color. It’s like how two CRT’s of the same model can look slightly different. Just the way they were manufactured. I can see how you could be angry if it had a cheezy green tint, but it doesn’t. It’s fine. Stop complaining.

Posted by Sherman on May 20, 2003 at 7:21 PM (CDT)


uhmm.. something wrong is goin on… that wasnt me who posted these weird posts…

Posted by phester in TX on May 20, 2003 at 8:49 PM (CDT)


Don’t make me come over there.

There’s nothing “wrong”, it’s just the system lets you post as anyone.  Which might seem wrong, but rest assured is merely part of My Grand Design.

Honestly though, let’s try to be a little more creative.  For My sake, who misspells their own name? “Mathew” vs. “Matthew”?

Posted by God Almighty in Scotland on May 20, 2003 at 10:29 PM (CDT)


huh? im not kididng… its not me sayin all that profound stuff…

Posted by phester in TX on May 20, 2003 at 10:56 PM (CDT)


I know it’s not me saying it, so I’ll explain it to myself nice and slow like.  I can enter any name I like in the “name” box and post under it.

This invariably leads to some 12-year old using my name to call people “gay”.

Posted by phester in Scotland on May 20, 2003 at 11:47 PM (CDT)


Uhm… peeps, if you look carefully at the photos posted by Matthew S. you can see that the iPod in these pics is actually the old iPod… I guess these pics are irrelevant to the topic in hand! We’re talkin bout the new iPod’s here… the one with the the promised high resolution! I guess thats all that matters in the end.

Actually, that was the point, and ought to have been pretty clear from the statement that it’s a 20GB model (the new ones don’t come in that size).  Everyone knows that the old ones are white backlit, but they look blue in plenty of conditions.  So therefore, assuming there’s a whole new, top secret model out there which fixes all the bugs just because the backlight looks blue is probably a little premature.

Also, I don’t think we were promised higher resolution screens.  In fact, the tech specs for the new iPods list the exact same resolution and dot pitch as the original ones do: 160x128, 0.24mm dot pitch.  I’m not entirely sure where this whole “high resolution screen” thing came from.

Posted by Matt in Scotland on May 21, 2003 at 12:09 AM (CDT)


hey i am lyin it was me with the gay coments

Posted by Phill in Texas on May 21, 2003 at 10:42 AM (CDT)


If commenting continues to be abused, it will only be available to members.

Posted by Dennis Lloyd in Irvine, CA on May 21, 2003 at 1:44 PM (CDT)

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