Many photographers carry iPhones with them or use iPads to show customers their images. The displays in Apple iOS devices are good but if you want really accurate colour you will need to calibrate the iPad or iPhone display. This quick tutorial will guide you through calibrating an iPad or iPhone display.
Both X-Rite and Datacolor have apps that you can download for Android or iOS. Both systems are generally similar and rely on networking the tablet or phone to a computer with a USB colorimeter connected to do the measurements. Datacolor haven’t yet updated their Spyder4Gallery app to work with the Spyder5 but it does work with the Spyder3 and Spyder4 devices. X-Rite’s ColorTRUE app works with the ColorMunki Smile, ColorMunki Display, i1 Display Pro and i1Pro 2.
Both apps rely on you viewing your photos through them, rather than the Photos or other app, to get an accurate image display. Neither iOS nor Android have a system level colour management architecture. However, X-Rite do have a software developer’s kit that app developers can incorporate into their apps to utilise a calibration created with ColorTRUE. So far the apps that can do this are Cam Ranger, QTAKE Monitor and Mylio.
This tutorial will use the ColorTRUE app and an i1 Display Pro. To get started you’ll need to download the app from the relevant app store, make sure you have the latest version of the i1 Profiler software on your computer software, have the i1 Display Pro plugged in and have both the iOS device and the computer on the same wireless network. You don’t need to launch the i1 Profiler or ColorMunki application on the computer, just have the device plugged into a USB port.
Once you launch the ColorTRUE app it will ask for permission to connect to the photos stored on the device and then get straight into a series of Getting Started pages that are well worth reading. Once you have done so touch Close. The app will then prompt you to connect to a computer with a supported device. You may find that some wireless hubs make the connection difficult. I had to connect both the computer and iPad to a wifi extender rather than my main wifi network. If you do have connection issues got to the ColorTRUE support page and you will find some good troubleshooting documents and videos.
Once you are successfully connected touch the arrow next to your computer name and the app will prompt you to place the colorimeter in position on the iOS device. It will then automatically begin to measure the display.
The measurement will take about three minutes. Once it’s done you can take the colorimeter off the display and go into Image Gallery section of the ColorTRUE app to view some images. The Image Gallery will let you view images both with and without the calibration. It will also simulate a press profile, allow you to do some simple compensation for ambient light and even change the ICC profile associated with the image (although why you’d want to view the image through the incorrect profile I can’t think). You can also of course use one of the ColorTRUE aware apps.
The improvement in the accuracy of the display was noticeable on my iPad and after calibration it was certainly closer to my main monitor. However, at the end of the day no phone or tablet display will be as good as high quality desktop display so always bear that in mind. That said, if you do want or need to view images on a mobile device and you have a supported system like the i1 Display Pro it makes perfect sense to calibrate it so you are viewing the best image you can.