Apple’s next iPhone to have thinner, in-cell touchscreen: WSJ

Apple’s next iPhone — we’ll call it the ‘iPhone 5,’ for familiarity’s sake — will reportedly have a thinner touchscreen display than previous iterations of the phone, according to an anonymously sourced piece from the Wall Street Journal. A number of Asian manufacturers, including Japan’s Sharp and South Korea’s LG, have allegedly already begun production of the next-generation displays.

The iPhone 5’s new display is said to use in-cell technology, which has one fewer layer than conventional LCD touchscreens. This is achieved by incorporating the touch mechanisms inside the part of the screen that displays color, known as “thin-film transistors” or TFT. On the current iPhones’ touchscreen, the TFT layer is separate from the touch mechanism layer. By combining the two, Apple will be able to use fewer layers of glass, thus allowing the phone to be thinner and lighter.

That is not to say that the iPhone 5 WILL be thinner and lighter — though that’s a fairly obvious direction for it to go — as the extra room may be used to add additional components or a larger battery.

This is not the first we’ve heard the in-cell display rumor. Taiwan-based website Digitimes — a regular source for Apple rumors, but one of the least reliable — reported as much all the way back in the middle of April. Corroboration by the Wall Street Journal certainly adds a greater level of believeablity to this rumor, though WSJ is not without its failures.

News of the iPhone 5’s in-cell display comes amid a string of leaks about other external components. On Monday, images of what appears to be the front pannel of the iPhone 5 leaked from Chinese website Consistent with previous rumors, as well as an alleged iPhone 5 back panel, the component shows that the next iPhone’s screen will be the same width as current iPhones, but slightly taller. If true, this would give the iPhone 5 a screen that measures about 4 inches diagonally, as well as a 16:9 aspect ratio, which better matches most wide-screen videos.

Earlier rumors poined to the next iPhone having a case made of a material known as Liquidmetal, an alloy that can be easily molded into shapes. At the moment, however, that rumor seems to be nothing more than wild speculation.

Image: iPhone 5 concept