If you’re on a two-year upgrade cycle, you might want to consider skipping the iPhone 7 and waiting for next year’s model. Apple will reportedly rely on its old friend Samsung to supply it with OLED panels for upcoming iPhone models, according to a report from The Korea Herald. In a deal said to be worth north of $2.5 billion, Samsung in 2017 will begin supplying Apple with 100 million 5.5-inch OLED panels every year for a period of three years.
The 2017 start date is significant because it suggests that the iPhone will incorporate an OLED display on the iPhone 7s. Previously, it was believed that OLED panels wouldn’t make their way into Apple’s smartphone lineup until 2018 with the release of the iPhone 8.
Interestingly, a report from Nikkei last month relayed that Apple only recently decided to accelerate the incorporation of OLED panels on the iPhone, largely to help “offset a predicted stall in iPhone sales.”
While ‘S’ cycle iPhone refreshes are typically incremental, the iPhone 7s may prove to be the exception to the rule. Visually, OLED panels bring a lot to the table. In addition to providing richer and more vibrant colors, the panels also deliver improved contrast and increased brightness. What’s more, OLED panels are thinner than the LCD panels Apple currently uses on the iPhone 6s and are also more energy-efficient.
All that said, OLED technology is not without its fair share of drawbacks. Not only are OLED panels more expensive than LCD panels, but the color saturation of the displays have been known to become muted over time. Apple, though, is reportedly already strategizing with suppliers for ways to work around such limitations.
On a related note, you might recall a Bloomberg report from late last year which relayed that Apple had set up a secretive research lab in Taiwan where a team of select engineers work exclusively on developing display technologies designed to be lighter, thinner and more energy-efficient.
“Engineers are developing more-advanced versions of the liquid-crystal displays currently used in iPhones, iPads and Mac personal computers,” the report claimed. “Apple also is keen to move to organic light-emitting diodes, which are even thinner and don’t require a backlight…”