Apple’s newest iPhones force customers to make a difficult choice: Should they upgrade immediately to the iPhone 8, or spend $1,000 and wait for the iPhone X and leave bezels behind with its glorious edge-to-edge OLED display?
Next year, making a choice between Apple’s OLED and LCD offerings might not be so hard. Apple is suspected to be making moves to lock down advanced LCD tech that would bring curved, edge-to-edge screens to all next-gen iPhones, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Apple has expressed interest in Japan Display’s Full Active LCD displays, according to sources who spoke to WSJ. Japan Display claims the new displays would allow phones to have bezels of just 0.5 millimeters, much smaller than those needed for older LCD tech and even smaller than phones with OLED panels, which typically feature one millimeter bezels.
Curved LCDs are difficult to manufacture because of the multiple layers of materials that make up the screens, one of which is typically glass. Japan Display has reportedly solved the issue by using plastic instead. The company’s chief mobile officer Kazutaka Nagaoka said the Full Active displays are already being used for Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2 flagship, which boasts a round-cornered edge-to-edge screen that makes the iPhone 8’s bezels look massive.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Apple’s interest in Japan Display’s curved LCD tech, which are reportedly less expensive to produce than OLED units. When the Full Active displays were announced for mass production back in January, Apple was reportedly one of the most interested potential buyers.
But Apple shifted from LCD to OLED for the X, and the company is rumored to bring the latter display tech to all of its phones next year. Supply issues with production partners, most particularly Samsung, could make that a major issue, however, and Apple will likely hope to avoid the supply chain bottlenecks and delays that have plagued the X this year. The company might be building its own OLED production facilities — but using new curved LCD screens could solve the problems, too.
So far, we’ve heard that those phones could have massive 5.28-inch and 6.46-inch displays and feature large L-shaped batteries from LG. There’s no way to confirm any of these reports — or even to guess what naming structure Apple will use for the next iPhones after throwing us all off with X — so we’ll have to wait until 2018 to find out it Apple sticks with LCDs.