The iPhone 7 surprised many in the industry when Apple announced its LCD screen, a technology most smartphone manufacturers have left behind in their most recent flagships. But a new report suggests Apple is finally preparing to forge ahead with light-emitting diode (OLED) screens in a future iPhone model.
The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Tai Jeng-wu, the president at Sharp, which supplies smartphone panels to Apple, said “the iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels.”
Tai started working with Sharp after Foxconn purchased the company in August.
“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,” Tai told students at Tatung University.
While the iPhone 7’s screen has been praised despite featuring outdated technology, OLED screens would offer sharper color contrast, as well as the ability for Apple to begin manufacturing curved and foldable screens, which is not possible with the current technology used. Samsung used OLED screens in the Galaxy S7, S7 edge, and the now-discontinued Note 7.
While it isn’t certain Apple will begin using OLED screens in the iPhone 8 or with a following device, Tai said Sharp is now building an OLED facility in Japan, and can make OLED panels in the United States as well, noting that “if our key customer demands [that we] manufacture in the United States, is it possible for us not to do so?”
While the rumors regarding OLED panels in the next iPhone reports are relatively new, they come amid reports that suggest Apple is exploring a drastic design change in the next iPhone version, as its tenth anniversary is coming up in 2017.
The report from Nikkei Asian Review noted that while Apple is likely going to create three iPhone 8 variants next year, only the 5.5-inch premium model would feature a curved OLED screen, with the other two versions using the current LTPS panels.