Apple changed the iPhone notch design for the first time this year on the iPhone 13 series. All four new iPhones feature smaller notches at the top, but it’s still quite large. Last month, a leak that preceded the iPhone 13 launch event said that the iPhone 14 will be the first handset to feature a hole-punch display. Other insiders provided similar claims, with a caveat: only the iPhone 14 Pro models will deliver the hole-punch display designs that fans want. Brand new reports out of Asia seem to corroborate those iPhone 14 rumors, albeit indirectly. It appears LG is developing hole-punch displays for mobile devices. And these new displays may be for Apple, allowing the company to finally ditch the notch.
LG’s new screens for mobile devices
Korean site The Elec says that LG is developing two types of display technologies for mobile devices. LG is creating its own under-display camera (UDC) screen tech. Separately, the company is also working on hole-punch screens. Both these designs would allow LG to supply next-gen gen panels for all-screen smartphones. But both designs already exist in the industry.
LG Display’s biggest rival is Samsung Display. And Samsung has been making hole-punch displays for a few years for its handsets. The company also developed its first under-display camera screen for the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The iPhone 14 would be an obvious target for LG, especially given the rumors that say Apple is looking to ditch the notch for good. The Elec says LG Display’s new technologies will be available to next-gen products from overseas partners. It didn’t specifically name Apple or any other potential LG customers.
LG’s hole-punch display will come out first, the report notes. The UDC screen will follow. The report adds that LG will use a low-resolution area with 200 pixels-per-inch (PPI) for the screen area above the camera. The rest of the screen will have a pixel density of 400 PPI. LG plans to increase the light transmittance by 20% by 2023 and 40% after 2024 to improve photo quality.
Why a partnership with Apple makes sense for LG
LG shut down its mobile unit earlier this year. As a result, LG will not use its hole-punch or UDC displays for its own phones. That leaves Apple as the main target in the industry. LG Display has been developing its OLED screens for mobile phones for years, looking to win Apple’s business. Samsung was initially the only OLED panel supplier for iPhone. But reports kept saying in the past few years that companies like LG and BOE were courting Apple. Samsung, LG, and BOE all make iPhone 13 panels right now, but Samsung still gets most of the orders.
It’s likely the same suppliers will provide OLED screens for the iPhone 14 series, regardless of whether or not Apple ditches the notch.
Separately, other reports have claimed that LG and Apple are working closely on display technology for a foldable iPhone. LG Display even launched a foldable panel (below) that would sit atop the foldable OLED screen. We hypothesized at the time that Apple might use LG’s technology on the foldable iPhone.
Even older reports said that LG and Apple had been quietly developing screen technology for future iPhones. Apple wanted to keep that tech secret from Samsung, those reports said.
Finally, Apple has developed technology to place all of the iPhone’s sensors under an OLED screen. That includes Touch ID and Face ID. Apple has multiple relevant patents, including several recent innovations. But Apple would still need a display maker to manufacture its screens in large numbers.
The iPhone 14 display partnership
The Elec might make no mention of Apple, but a report from MyDrivers does. The report says the iPhone 14 will ditch the notch in favor of a hole-punch display. It also claims that LG is already working on the technology needed to make it happen.
MyDrivers says the iPhone 14 hole-punch display won’t be as small as recent iPhone 14 renders suggest. It also won’t be like the regular hole-punch screens seen on Android devices. The notch might go away, but Face ID has to stay, and that’s a high priority for Apple. As a result, a pill-shaped hole might pierce the iPhone 14 screen instead of a notch. We saw pill-shaped hole-punch displays on Android phones featuring dual-screen selfie cams, including Huawei phones that featured 3D face recognition sensors.
While LG Display may indeed provide screens for the notch-less iPhone 14, it’s likely that Apple will also work with other display vendors to ensure it has access to enough displays. Apple sells more than 200 million iPhones a year. Most of them feature OLED screens, as Apple has slowly phased out LCD screens from the iPhone.
There’s no way to verify these reports. But MacRumors pointed out that MyDrivers has had accurate leaks in the past.