According to The Korea Herald, Samsung Display, the subdivision of electronics behemoth Samsung that oversees the company's display technologies, will supply Apple with "millions" of curved screens for the highest-end iPhone 8. They're reportedly of the plastic variety as opposed to the Gorilla Glass screens of iPhones past, and are "curved all over." Minor revisions of the to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, meanwhile, will use flat LCD panels....
The iPhone 7 has been released, but we are already hearing a number of rumors about the iPhone 7S or the iPhone 8, which is not due out until 2017. It seems as though we're in for some major changes with the iPhone 7S/8, including a switch to OLED screens, a larger 5.8-inch screen, a return to glass backs, and more.
Here's everything we know so far about the new iPhones coming in 2017.
An LG or Samsung curved OLED screen for the iPhone
According to the most recent rumors, not only will future iPhones feature an OLED display, but those displays will be flexible.
According to The Korea Herald, Samsung Display, the subdivision of electronics behemoth Samsung that oversees the company's display technologies, will supply Apple with "millions" of curved screens for the highest-end iPhone 8. They're reportedly of the plastic variety as opposed to the Gorilla Glass screens of iPhones past, and are "curved all over." Minor revisions of the to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, meanwhile, will use flat LCD panels.
According to a report from South Korean website ETNews. LG will reportedly be supplying foldable and curved displays for the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Apple in 2018 ¡ª so while the next iPhone may not feature the LG display, the one after that very well could. While some reports indicate that LG is actually building fully foldable displays for many companies, it's more likely, at least in the short term, that Apple would use a curved display rather than a foldable one. Until 2018, it's expected that Samsung will be the sole provider of the iPhone's OLED displays.
Will the 2017 iPhone finally include a better-looking and more advanced OLED display? Reports indicate that while not all iPhone models may include the better technology, at least some models will. Most recently, a report from Bloomberg revealed that supply constraints on OLED panels from the four main suppliers may make it difficult for the 2017 iPhone models to boast the latest display technology.
The report notes that "the four main suppliers for such components [OLED panels] won't have enough production capacity to make screens for all new iPhones next year, with constraints continuing into 2018." That's because Samsung will be the sole provider of OLED panels for Apple this year, and it cannot meet the demand. However, some analysts say that Apple is prepared for that reality.
"Apple has already figured in there will be high demand for the OLED model."
"Apple has already figured in that there will be high demand for the OLED model and they've also figured out there will be constraints to these panels," Dan Panzica, a supply chain analyst at IHS Markit, told Bloomberg.
But OLED panels or not, rumors are still swirling around Apple's drastic design change in the next iPhone version, as its tenth anniversary is coming up in 2017. Most agree that at least one model will use an OLED screen, and sources tell Bloomberg the OLED panels made by Samsung are larger than 5 inches.
The model that does come with an OLED screen, in any case, will likely be more expensive, the Wall Street Journal reported, as these displays are quite costly to produce. However, the same report noted that Apple could decide against the OLED model altogether, as it is just one of a whopping 10 prototypes currently in the works.
Earlier, a report from Nikkei Asian Review suggests that there will, in fact, be three iPhone models, with one model featuring a premium OLED display that's curved on both sides, somewhat like Samsung's Edge series.
Of course, this lines up with previous reports from Gabelli & Co.'s Hendi Susanto, which indicate that only "special edition" 2017 iPhones will come with the OLED display. The concept of a special edition iPhone with better features has been used by Apple in the past with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, when the iPhone 6s Plus included optical image stabilization in the camera and the standard iPhone 6s did not. According to Susanto, Apple may not be able to get enough OLED panels to put on every iPhone. That, of course, supports previous reports suggesting that Apple would only be making 50 million OLED-equipped iPhones.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the new handset is likely to sport an OLED display, and in April, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also stated that the iPhone 7S will go with an AMOLED screen. That screen might also be curved, Kuo suggests. Of course, when you think about curved AMOLED screens, the first phone that comes to mind is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. If Apple does make a curved iPhone, it will be following in Samsung's footsteps ¡ª not forging new ground.
It's also suggested that the display on the new big iPhone would be a 5.8-inch OLED panel, lending credibility to other recent rumors suggesting that Apple has been looking to make the switch from LED screens to OLED panels, which offer brighter colors and consume less power. Kuo's note suggests that the switch to OLED is imminent, and the 5.8-inch iPhone will sport the new display type.
In fact, the Motley Fool report hints that OLED panels may be used across the iPhone range in 2017 or 2018, not just on the so-called iPhone 7S Pro. According to the DigitTimes note it found, "supply chain sources believe that 50 million of these AMOLED-equipped iPhones will make it out to customers in the first year of availability." While 50 million sounds like a lot, it's a far cry from the 200 million iPhones Apple sold last year, highlighting the idea that the company may be gradually shifting into OLED rather than equipping all phones with the new tech right away.
Samsung is reportedly already on board to supply the displays, with LG and Japan Display looking to enter production later on in the process.
The most recent reports suggest that Apple is speaking with Sharp Corp. to supply these OLED displays. On September 30, Sharp announced a $566 million investment in developing OLED production facilities, citing June 2018 as the target date for product output. "Apple has unofficially or as a nod encouraged Sharp to go into it," Amir Anvarzadeh, Singapore-based head of Japanese equity sales at BGC Partners Inc., told Bloomberg in a phone interview. "Apple's general strategy is to increase the competition on the supply side, and dilute the risk exposure to one company."
While it's entirely possible that there is no iPhone 7S Pro, chances are that there is some kernel of truth to the fact that Apple is switching to OLED screens. The giant iPhone in the rumor may also just be a prototype or a possible prototype. We'll keep you updated as we learn more.