As Apple continues to make preparations for the release of the iPhone 6s, rumors are rife that the consumer electronics giant will choose to arm its next generation iPhone 7 with 4K resolution capabilities. This has been rumored for sometime in both the iPhone range and Samsung’s Galaxy competitor, but has yet to come to fruition with either company.
Apple iPhone 7 4K innovation
But a recent technological innovation suggests that it will be possible for Apple to make the iPhone 7 the first ever 4K device. Apple has been utilizing in-cell display technology in recent smartphones, beginning with the iPhone 5 back in 2012. The reason for using this particular technology is that combining the screen and digitiser input into a singular layer enables Apple to produce thinner and lighter handsets. Generally this has been considered superior to the glass-on-glass panels Apple was using previously.
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However, in-cell technology does not come without downsides. Although utilizing this technique has enabled Apple to produce the wafer-thin 6.9 mm iPhone 6, there are also problems associated with it. The technology is ultimately quite production intensive, and it is suggested from sources close to the Apple supply chain that it has played a significant role in developing production bottlenecks.
This has in turn ensured that higher resolutions have been excluded from the iPhone range. So Apple is currently experimenting behind the scenes with a return to glass-on-glass. It is thought that by reintroducing this approach into the iPhone range that Apple will be able to deliver a 4K resolution iPhone 7 in 2016.
The other issue that in-cell touch panels experience is that they are significantly less sensitive around the edges of the device. This means that edge-to-edge displays are considerably more complex for Apple to produce, explaining the absence of this feature in recent iPhone releases. So it is suggested that by returning to the aforementioned glass-on-glass technology that Apple may be able to deliver edge-to-edge displays when the iPhone 7 hits the stores in 2016.
This would be particularly timely for Apple, as the iPhone range will be due a major redesign in 2016. Apple typically undergoes this process every two years, and the overwhelming consensus of analysts is that the iPhone 6s will be largely based on the design of the iPhone 6 when it releases later this year.
Although glass-on-glass panels are typically thicker than in-cell screens, touch-panel makers are currently attempting to develop ultra-thin variants. This would enable Apple to deliver an iPhone 7 handset with the same attractive design of the iPhone 6. And as the California-based company continues to work on this forthcoming technology, it has been reported that manufacturers of glass-on-glass panels have already delivered samples to Apple’s headquarters.
Tech too late for iPhone 6s
Of course, this is all coming rather to late in the day for the Apple iPhone 6s, which should be on sale at a special Apple event next week. Apple has already sent out invitations for a huge conference on September 9, when the iPhone 6s is expected to be revealed. It is also possible that the iPad Pro may finally emerge at this event, and other rumored device releases include an updated version of the Apple TV digital box.
While it will be something of a surprise for Apple to move back to a technology that it has previously ditched, the rationale behind it is certainly sound. And the reasons for Apple dispensing with glass-on-glass panels are obvious, but in the rapidly shifting and evolving technology space, the justification for moving back to them may ultimately be equally clear.
There will be particular pressure on Apple to deliver 4K technology considering developments in the mobile marketplace just this week. With Samsung and Apple having been predicted to deliver the first mass market 4K resolution handset for many months, they have ultimately been beaten into the punch by Sony.
With the Xperia Z5, Sony has skipped 2K and gone straight to 4K resolution for the launch of the world’s first UHD 4K smartphone, which has four times the number of pixels of Apple’s existing iPhone 6 Plus. Although Apple is expected to upgrade the resolution of its premium phablet to Quad HD this year, the pressure to match Sony and release a 4K device will be significant by the time that the release date of the iPhone 7 rolls around.
4K becoming mainstream
Although 4K resolution has yet to become a truly mainstream technology, it is beginning to gain some traction. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant are offering significant 4K content. Additionally, the British company BT recently announced the first 4K television service in Europe. With large numbers of 4K resolution television sets having been sold, not least by the market-leading Samsung, the scope of 4K resolution this is only expected to expand in the foreseeable future.
With Samsung having migrated its curved screen technology to its range of mobiles, the corporation is expected to follow suit with 4K technology as well. This would increase the pressure on Apple to deliver a 4K resolution device, as the competition between the two leading players in the mobile marketplace develops in 2016.
Apple has also made it something of an ethos of the company in recent months to deliver devices with outstanding screen resolutions. The corporation has just released a 5K iMac that is considered by many to be the outstanding desktop computer on the planet. And the iPad Pro is expected to feature an impressive resolution when it is finally on sale.
As Apple continues to make preparations for the release of the iPhone 7, this latest news is the strongest indication yet that the iconic iPhone smartphone may embrace 4K resolution as early as next year.