Rumor: Apple Is Asking Suppliers To Ramp Up OLED Output For Curved Screens – Forbes
Several supplier leaks have emerged that detail some of the changes Apple might be making to its 2017 line of iPhones. Apple is reportedly going to skip the “S” moniker and call its flagship smartphone “iPhone 8” next year. And suppliers out of Asia are claiming that iPhone prototypes with curved screens are currently being tested.
As a result, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Apple’s suppliers in Asia are being asked to increase the output of “thinner organic light-emitting displays (OLEDs) and submit prototype screens with better resolution” than the ones used on Samsung devices. The iPhones with organic light-emitting displays might have a higher price because the screens would cost more to manufacture, but it would enable Apple to make its devices flexible just like the Samsung “Edge” line.
However, The Wall Street Journal’s source said that the OLED version of the iPhone might not be released next year because Apple is testing out 10 prototypes as of right now. If Apple does end up switching to OLEDs, then it will join other phone makers like Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei and OnePlus in moving away from liquid-crystal displays (LCDs).
There are some complications with Apple using OLEDs though. One of Apple’s biggest suppliers for displays is also one of its biggest competitors: Samsung. Samsung Display is just one out of several technology companies that can mass produce OLEDs. So to reduce its dependence on Samsung for smartphone components, Apple has been selecting other companies to build its displays such as LG Display, Japan Display and Sharp. But LG Display is far from Samsung Display at OLED production capabilities. And Sharp’s parent company Foxconn has been focusing less on OLEDs due to the higher manufacturing costs. Plus Japan Display is reportedly talking to Innovation Network Corp. of Japan for a financial bailout. Interestingly, Japan Display is also investing in advanced LCD panels known as “Full Active.” The Full Active LCD panels use film instead of glass so that it could offer better flexibility and image quality.
Another challenge with OLEDs is that keeping components inside the panels could limit flexibility. This could be an issue because there are rumors that Apple wants to integrate the front-facing camera and the Home button within an edge-to-edge display for the iPhone 8.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Apple was going to offer the iPhone 8 in three different models. One model is reportedly going to have a curved 5.8-inch OLED display. And the other two will likely have TFT-LCD panels, one at 4.7-inches and the other at 5.5-inches. Dual cameras are expected to be featured in the larger TFT-LCD model and OLED versions of the iPhone 8. Sources with LG are also claiming that a 3D camera will be added to the iPhone 8.
According to a report by The Korea Economic Daily, Apple is working with LG to create advanced dual sensors for the iPhone 8, which could enable 3D photography. LG Innotek is currently the exclusive module supplier for the dual-camera system built into the iPhone 7 Plus.
“Apple is now studying how to apply its 3D camera technology into LG Innotek’s smartphone camera,” said The Korea Economic Daily’s source. “Since LG Innotek also has its own 3D camera and related technologies, such joint efforts will likely to bear fruit sometime within next year.”
The 3D camera would essentially use the dual lenses to determine the depth around subjects, which would really enhance the Live Photos feature. It would also substantially improve the iPhone 7 Plus’ Portrait Mode.
Last year, Apple purchased Israel-based LinX Computational Imaging for approximately $20 million. LinX developed technology that can capture multiple photos at the same time along with algorithms to determine the depth for the purpose of creating 3D image maps.
Lately, Apple has been criticized for its lack of innovation. And many analysts believe that the iPhone has only seen incremental hardware upgrades over the last 9 years. But it seems like the radical iPhone redesign expected in 2017 should mitigate those concerns.
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