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The worst news we’ve heard so far about Apple’s next major iPhone refresh

Published May 16th, 2016 11:44AM EDT
iPhone OLED

While we don’t seem to know a whole lot of specifics about the iPhone 7, rumors surrounding Apple’s plans for the iPhone in 2017 and 2018 (presumably the iPhone 7s and iPhone 8) have been trickling in with increasing frequency over the past few weeks.

One of the more intriguing rumors we’ve heard about Apple’s 2017 iPhone — likely to be called the iPhone 7s — is that the device will incorporate OLED panels. Initial reports indicated that Apple’s OLED plans were on a 2018 timetable, more recent rumblings from the rumor mill have suggested that Apple recently opted to accelerate OLED adoption in a concerted effort to “offset a predicted stall in iPhone sales.”

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Over the weekend, the Korea Herald relayed statements from Lee Choong-hoon, the chief analyst at UBI Research, who intimated that the initial rollout of OLED panels may be exclusive to Apple’s larger-screened iPhone models and may be on the originally planned 2018 timetable. This is a move that could make a whole lot of users very angry.

He predicted an OLED iPhone with a curved screen would debut in 2018, saying OLED models would make up 30 percent or 100 million units of total iPhone shipments in the year and the figure could surge to 80 percent by 2020.

If Choong-hoon’s figure are on target, it would seem to suggest that OLED iPhone models, at least at first, might only be available on either the iPhone 7s Plus or perhaps on a more expensive variant of the iPhone 7. Indeed, this sentiment aligns with a recent research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who anticipates that Apple’s introduction of OLED technology will only be featured on a new 5.8-inch iPhone model.

Regardless of when we see Apple release an iPhone with an OLED display, there’s no disputing that Apple is expending a lot of R&D resources on developing new and innovative display technologies. Specifically, a Bloomberg report from a few months ago indicated that Apple recently set up a top-secret research lab in Taiwan where a team of engineers and scientists work exclusively on developing display technologies s designed to be lighter, thinner and more energy-efficient.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.