With two of the 2017 iPhones already out and the third a little over a month away, the buzz is now starting to build around the 2018 phones. The latest one rumor suggests that Apple could be considering advanced liquid crystal display (LCD) panels from Japan Display for its future iPhones.
Apple’s iPhone X sports OLED screen technology, which offers brighter colors and a sharper contrast than traditional LCD panels. However, high cost and supply issues are big concerns thwarting the mass appeal of the technology. Therefore, Apple seems to be interested in finding a solution that could match the quality of OLEDs but is more widely available.
Japan Display claims that its advanced LCD panels (also called Full Active LCDs) offer the same benefits as OLED panels, but at a lower cost. This is one reason why Apple wants them for at least some of its 2018 iPhones, says The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter.
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Japan Display’s Full Active panels boast a bezel or border space of just 0.5 millimeters, compared to several millimeters on older LCDs and one millimeter on current OLED smartphone panels. Several Chinese mobile phone makers, such as Xiaomi, are already using the Full Active panel, says the chief of Japan Display’s mobile unit, Kazutaka Nagaoka.
Japan Display is very confident in its Full Active technology. The company expects Full Active to represent over 70% of its total business for the year ending March 2019. Apple’s iPhone could be one big reason for this confidence. In a regulatory filing, the Japanese firm said that the iPhone maker accounted for 54% of its revenue for the year that ended March 2017, notes The Street.
Sources reportedly told the WSJ that Apple itself had expressed interest in Japan Display’s Full Active LCDs. This is one reason why the Japanese company is forecasting a rapid uptake of the technology.
For now, not much is known about the 2018 iPhones, so it is difficult to say what display technology will Apple use. Though Apple usually plans a year in advance for future iPhone, it does not finalize designs until March of the year when a new iPhone is set to launch, notes The WSJ. Thus, Apple probably has a few months left before committing to a display supplier for next year’s iPhones.
Analysts, however, expect Apple and other smartphone makers to eventually move on to OLED (organic light-emitting diode) fully because such technology makes it easier to make curved or angled screens and offers better contrast and colors. But supply issues and high cost are big impediments. Currently, Samsung is supplying the OLED displays for the iPhone X. These displays cost $110 each, almost twice as expensive as an LCD screen.
According to Japan Display, it is planning to start mass production of OLED panels in or around April 2019. Meanwhile, it is counting on Apple and other smartphone makers to buy its Full Active panels. As of now, there has been no comment from Apple on this latest development.
In pre-market trading today, Apple shares were in the red. Year to date, the stock is up more than 33%, while in the last year, it is up almost 37%.