The OLED display on the iPhone X has received an overwhelmingly positive response from consumers. But Apple is not going to switch entirely from LCD to OLED next year. At least one of the 2018 iPhones would have the LCD panel. Sources privy to Apple’s product designs told the Nikkei Asian Review that the tech giant is planning to return to a metal chassis for the 2018 LCD iPhone. Apple last used metal casing on the iPhone 7 series in 2016.

2018 LCD iPhone
Rani_Ramli / Pixabay

Casetek to supply metal casing for the LCD iPhone

Sources told Nikkei that Apple was also planning to release two iPhones with OLED screens. The 6.1-inch LCD iPhone would have a metal back panel and it will be available in multiple color options. The OLED iPhones will come in two sizes: 5.8-inch and 6.3-inch. The iPhone X is Apple’s first smartphone to use the OLED technology. OLED offers a better contrast and brighter display compared to the LCD screens.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus sport LCD panels. All the three 2017 iPhones come with a glass back to support wireless charging. Nikkei says Apple is reluctant to switch entirely to OLED in 2018 due to the fear of becoming over-reliant on Samsung. The Korean company is the sole supplier of OLED displays for the iPhone X. Apple will maintain a lineup of LCD iPhones until it has another supplier of OLED screens. The Cupertino company is said to be working with LG Display on OLED screens for 2018 iPhones. But LG will not be able to supply more than 10 million OLED panels next year.

The metal casing for the 2018 LCD iPhone will be supplied by Casetek, which is a subsidiary of Apple’s manufacturing partner Pegatron. Pegatron assembles the iPhone 8 for Apple. Casetek already supplies metal casings for the iPads, so it’s familiar with Apple’s design language. A different source told Nikkei that Casetek was already experimenting with metal casings for the LCD iPhone.

The Japanese publication added that Pegatron and Casetek could finalize a suitable production process to integrate their offerings for 2018 iPhone orders. Casetek has close links with its parent company. The process would be similar to how Foxconn works with its metal frame and casing production units. Apple also sources metal casings and frames from Jabil and Catcher Technology.

Apple to launch two OLED and one LCD iPhones next year

Nikkei’s report corroborates with predictions from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo predicted last month that Apple was planning to launch three new iPhones next year. One will be the next-gen 5.8-inch iPhone X and another will be a Plus variant with a giant 6.5-inch OLED panel. Kuo also predicted that the third device would sport a 6.1-inch LCD screen.

According to KGI Securities, the 2018 LCD iPhone would “differ significantly” from the OLED models. The 5.8-inch OLED iPhone would offer a pixel density of 458ppi, same as the current iPhone X. The 6.5-inch OLED iPhone would have a pixel density of 480-500ppi. The LCD iPhone, in contrast, will sell at a lower price point ($650-$750) and have a lower pixel density (320-330ppi).

Ming-Chi Kuo told investors that the next year’s LCD iPhone would borrow a few elements from the iPhone X. It would ditch the Touch ID fingerprint reader for the new TrueDepth camera that enables Face ID and Animoji. It also means that the LCD iPhone would feature incredibly slim bezels with a notch. The Cupertino company has confirmed none of this, but both Nikkei Asian Review and Ming-Chi Kuo have a proven track record when it comes to leaking details about unannounced Apple products.

Will the next-gen iPhones have dual SIM functionality?

There have also been rumors that at least one of the 2018 iPhone models would feature dual-SIM support. While most Android smartphones have offered dual-SIM functionality for years, the iPhone users have been deprived of that advantage. A dual-SIM iPhone would be good for both business and pleasure. It is unclear whether the dual SIM support will come as standard or will be offered only in select iPhone models.

The iPhones have the capability to support two chips at LTE speeds. Having two different SIM cards or plans won’t slow down the iPhone. Ming-Chi Kuo has also reported that Apple was working with Intel on faster “pre-5G” baseband chips that would make the 2018 iPhones much faster than the current generation. Apple will reduce its reliance on Qualcomm due to their legal disputes.

It would be interesting to see what naming pattern Apple would follow next year. The company released iPhone 8 and iPhone X (10) this year. Will the LCD iPhone be called iPhone 9 and OLED models iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Plus? That would seem a bit weird. Or will be simply be called 5.8-inch iPhone, 6.1-inch iPhone, and 6.5-inch iPhone? And what would happen to the ‘S’ moniker?