Apple fans, your chances of getting your hands on the iPhone 8 at launch are incredibly slim. Previous reports have claimed that the iPhone 8 launch could be pushed back by a month or two. However, most analysts believe that the 10th anniversary iPhone would be launched in limited quantities in September. A new report coming out of Taiwan claims that the iPhone 8 OLED panel is in short supply due to low production yields.
Samsung Display facing yield issues with iPhone 8 OLED panels
Until now, most supply chain reports claimed that the delay would be caused by the in-display fingerprint sensor and new motherboard design. But it’s the OLED screen that is causing the most trouble. Sources told Taiwanese site DigiTimes that the iPhone 8 OLED panels are still facing yield issues, even as other suppliers have started delivering components to assemblers such as Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron.
DigiTimes reports that only 3-4 million iPhone 8 units will be available at launch in September. The iPhone assemblers have stepped up the recruitment drive for the iPhone 8 production. TSMC, which started production of A11 chips last month, witnessed a 20% jump in its revenues in May driven by A11 shipments. The publication claims that it would be difficult for Apple to ship 50-60 million iPhone 8 units in 2017 if the OLED issues persist.
Samsung Display is the sole supplier of OLED panels for the 10th anniversary iPhone. The Korean company was supposed to supply at least 70 million 5.8-inch OLED screens to Apple this year. It’s quite surprising given that Samsung Display is the largest OLED panel maker in the world, and is years ahead of its closest rivals. It makes tens of millions of OLED screens for Samsung’s own Galaxy smartphones.
Is it more complex than Galaxy S8 OLED screens?
It indicates that the iPhone 8 OLED panels would be significantly different from the regular OLED that Samsung uses in the Galaxy devices. For one, it would have a pressure-sensitive layer for 3D Touch technology. Apple is also likely to integrate the fingerprint scanner into the phone’s OLED display. Samsung had tried to use an in-display fingerprint solution on the Galaxy S8, but failed.
Samsung will not only be responsible for the iPhone 8 OLED panels, but also for the iPhone 9 display. Last month, Korean media reported that Apple and Samsung had signed a deal for 180 million OLED screens for the 2018 iPhones. That’s more than double the size of this year’s order.
Apple hasn’t yet decided how to integrate the fingerprint sensor
Last week, Cowen & Company analyst Timothy Arcuri told investors that Apple hadn’t yet decided where and how to locate the fingerprint scanner. Arcuri said the feature was most likely to be placed under the display rather than on the rear panel. The tech giant was considering three different methods to implement it under the OLED display. The three methods are: replacing the Touch ID with a “film” sensor, thinning the cover glass over the fingerprint scanner area, or creating a pin hole through the glass for an optical/ultrasonic fingerprint scanner.
According to Arcuri, Apple has until the end of June to decide which method it wants to implement. The analyst says Apple is still trying to work out the fingerprint sensor, so the iPhone 8 shipments could be pushed back by a few weeks. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also predicts that the 10th anniversary iPhone would become available in large quantities only in October/November.
iPhone 8 features and specs
Apple fans are excited about the 10th anniversary iPhone, which would feature a radical redesign with a glass body, a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED display, and no physical home button. It is said to have 3D sensor modules on the front for facial recognition and augmented reality. The phone will be launched along with the 4.7-inch iPhone 7S and 5.5-inch iPhone 7S Plus, which would be minor upgrades over the current flagship models.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the bottom of the iPhone 8 display would feature a function area that would offer different controls based on whatever app is on the screen. A bezel-less display would allow Apple to pack a bigger battery into a form factor similar to that of the 4.7-inch iPhone 7. The glass panels on the front and back would be supported by a metal frame in the middle. The rear glass would facilitate wireless charging. The 10th anniversary iPhone is also said to be IP68-level waterproof.
On the back panel, the dual camera system is arranged vertically to support augmented reality. The LED flash is placed between the two camera sensors. Augmented reality would be one of the biggest highlights of the iPhone 8. Earlier this month, Apple gave developers access to a set of tools called ARKit, which would allow them to add AR experiences into their apps.
Will the delay hurt its demand?
The delay in launch is expected to have little impact on the consumer demand. Analysts expect the iPhone 8 to drive an even bigger upgrade cycle than the iPhone 6 launch in 2014. CFRA analyst Angelo Zino predicts the iPhone shipments to reach 241.5 million units in the 12 months following the launch of the 10th anniversary iPhone. Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin says augmented reality would give Apple a distinct advantage over rivals.