It seems like the iPhone 7 has only just come out, but attention has already turned to its successor, the iPhone 8.

The next edition of the Apple smartphone will likely be released in 2017, the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. Speculation is building that Apple is planning something very special regarding overhauling the design, and now a report in Nikkei Asian Review claims that there will be a change to the display.

iphone 8 concept with 8 plus
Image source: appadvice.com

OLED display technology to make an appearance on iPhone 8

According to the president of technology company Sharp, Apple is set to introduce OLED display technology. This would mark a great improvement in performance over the existing screens used on the iPhone 7.

Sharp manufactures the displays for Apple smartphones, and president Tai Jeng-wu has said that the iPhone 8 will use OLED technology.

“The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels,” he told a group of students at Tatung University in Taipei.

“We don’t know whether Apple’s OLED iPhones will be a hit, but if Apple doesn’t walk down this path and transform itself, there will be no innovation. It is a crisis but it is also an opportunity,” he said, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Technology boosts screen performance

OLED displays are widely regarded as performing better due to improved color reproduction. There is no need for a backlight as the screen is capable of illuminating individual pixels on demand, and videos and pictures would look even better.

The lack of backlight means that blacks appear darker, and whites appear lighter. It also brings the added benefit of lower power consumption and faster response times.

While this all sounds like a good move regarding performance, some customers may be put off by the accompanying increase in prices. OLED technology is known to be more expensive than existing displays, and the costs would likely be passed on to the consumer.

However, it seems that the move is likely to happen. Other smartphone makers, including Samsung, already use OLED technology. In fact, it has long been rumored that Apple would start using OLED displays, and Nikkei ran a report in March 2016 claiming that a decision had been reached.

Sharp to make OLED screens for Apple?

Later in April, The Korea Herald claimed that a manufacturing contract worth $2.59 billion had been signed between Samsung and Apple. Under the terms of the deal, the Korean tech company will make 100 million 5.5-inch OLED panels for Apple per year. Manufacturing will allegedly begin in 2017.

However Sharp could also manufacture OLED displays for Apple. Sharp is now owned by Foxconn, the main iPhone manufacturer. Tai Jeng-wu was named Sharp CEO shortly after the takeover last year.

The CEO told the press about the company’s plans, and raised the possibility of manufacturing OLED displays in the United States.

“We are now building a new [OLED] facility in Japan. We can make [OLED panels] in the US too. If our key customer demands us to manufacture in the US, is it possible for us not to do so?” Jeng-wu said.

Design overhaul planned for iPhone anniversary

As things stand, the Apple Watch is the only product in the company range that uses an OLED screen. However, given that Samsung, LG, and other smartphone makers are already using the displays on their handsets, it seems inevitable that Apple will follow suit.

Other speculation about the iPhone 8 includes the idea that Apple may introduce three variants of its upcoming smartphone. A recent Nikkei report claims that a 5-5-inch model, which could be called the iPhone 8 Plus, would be a premium handset with an OLED display.

The other two models would reportedly measure 4.7-inches and 5-inches respectively. Other innovations include the idea that Apple will do away with the Home Button, and embed the fingerprint sensor straight into the display unit.

Rumor also has it that the iPhone 8 will have an edge-to-edge display with minimal bezels. At this stage, this is pure speculation, and there has been no official word from Apple on the future of the iPhone range. This is hardly surprising given the company’s reputation for secrecy.

However, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has just released a new smartphone, the Mi Mix, which has quite a few of the same features rumored to be included on the iPhone 8. It has an edge-to-edge screen, no home button, and fingerprint technology, and some commentators believe that Xiaomi has stolen Apple’s thunder.

However, it is impossible to say whether Xiaomi has beaten Apple to the punch given the lack of information about the iPhone 8. What is almost certain is that Apple will put together a more polished device than the Mi Mix, which has been called a concept smartphone by Xiaomi.