Apple’s revolutionary 10th anniversary iPhone is going to benefit more than just Tim Cook & Co. Anticipating strong demand for its so-called iPhone 8, Apple has placed orders for 70 million OLED display panels with Samsung Display. All the panels are said to be delivered by the end of 2017. The large order size indicates that Apple expects the new iPhone 8 to fly off the shelves during the holiday shopping season.

Apple iPhone 8 Concept
Image Source: Moe Slah / Concepts iPhone / YouTube video (screenshot)

Samsung aims to make 95 million OLED panels for iPhone 8

The report comes from Nikkei Asian Review, which is well-connected with Apple’s supply chain in Asia. The order size is in line with a previous estimate by IHS Markit analyst David Hsieh. IHS Markit said even though Samsung Display had received orders for 70 million units, it was preparing to produce 95 million OLED panels for Apple in 2017, just in case the demand exceeds expectations.

Past reports claimed Apple had signed two different deals with Samsung for a total of 160 million OLED panels. Samsung Display, the world’s largest OLED supplier, has exclusive rights to supply OLED displays for the iPhone 8. LG Electronics also has the OLED technology, but its production capacity was not enough to meet Apple’s massive demand.

Last week, supply chain sources told The Investor that Samsung Display was investing $8.9 billion this year to ramp up OLED production. The Korean company has placed orders with several equipment manufacturers to replace its LCD production lines with those for OLED panels. Samsung stands to benefit from the every unit sales of the iPhone 8, even though Apple’s 10th-anniversary smartphone will be competing against Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 8.

iPhone 8 OLED screen will be only slightly curved

David Hsieh of IHS Markit says it’s possible that some of the 70 million iPhone 8 units might not be shipped to consumers until early next year. Sources confirmed to Nikkei the OLED iPhone would sport a 5.2-inch screen. It corroborates with predictions made by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo said in February the iPhone 8 would have a usable display area of 5.15 inches. The total display would measure 5.8-inch, with the remaining space taken up by a new Function Area.

The other two models coming this September – the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus – would stick to the flat 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch LCD panels. The iPhone 8’s OLED display would be only slightly curved around the edges. Nikkei reported last month the curves would not offer any major new functions. They will be there only for visual appeal.

Will the new iPhone offer long-distance wireless charging?

The Japanese publication added that all the three iPhones will be waterproof. Korean site The Investor reported in January the 10th anniversary iPhone would boast of IP68 waterproof rating. The new iPhones will also feature wireless charging, though Apple suppliers are still working to fix the overheating issues. It is still unclear whether the iPhones would get the same Qi wireless charging that requires the device to be placed on a charging pad, or a new long-distance wireless charging technology from Energous that can charge phones from a distance of up to 18 feet.

Nikkei further reports at least one of the three phones is going to feature a 3D sensor for facial recognition. Yuanta Investment Consulting analyst Jeff Pu predicts Apple could ship up to 100 million new iPhones by the end of 2017. At least 55 million of them will be OLED iPhone 8 devices. The premium version is said to cost more than $1,000.

Yes, iPhone 8 to feature a True Tone display

Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz and his colleagues told investors the iPhone 8 would carry a True Tone display similar to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The True Tone technology allows the display to change its color temperature and hue depending on the surrounding environment to enhance text legibility and reduce the eye strain. Since Samsung’s flagship smartphones already sport the same OLED panel that the iPhone 8 is going to use, adding the True Tone technology could help Apple differentiate its product from those of rivals.

Barclays analysts revealed Austrian semiconductor maker AMS would be responsible for the “full spectral sensing” ambient light sensor needed for the True Tone display. The 10th anniversary iPhone will have 3D sensing modules on the front and back, along with other hardware components, to support augmented reality (AR) applications.

Latest reports claim Apple could relocate the Touch ID sensor to the rear panel. Previously there were speculations that the fingerprint sensor would sit underneath the OLED display as Apple is removing the home button. But the company’s new in-display fingerprint technology might not be ready for September launch, prompting Apple to relocate it to the back.

Among other things, the iPhone 8 is expected to include 3GB RAM, a more powerful and energy-efficient A11 chipset built using the 10nm manufacturing process, and camera improvements. JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall predicts these new features coupled with a major design overhaul would trigger a massive demand for the iPhone 8. Hall expects Apple to ship 260 million iPhones in fiscal 2018, up from 211 million units last year.