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Apple is going all-in on OLED displays

May 23rd, 2017 at 11:24 AM
iPhone 8 display, release date

One of the big changes on the iPhone 8 that every rumor agrees on is the display. Apple will finally be making the jump from LCD to sharper and more battery-efficient OLED panels for its new flagship iPhone later this year, which makes total sense.

But rumors also suggest that the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus, expected to be incremental upgrades unveiled in September, will stick with LCD. Since the iPhone 8 will likely cost upwards of $1,000, that means most iPhone users will still be stuck on LCD screens in 2017.

A new report suggests that will all change by the time the iPhone 9 comes out. The Korea Herald‘s investment site is reporting that Apple has already signed a deal with Samsung to deliver 180 million OLED panels in 2018. The screens have been ordered in two sizes, which hints heavily that Apple will return to its usual release cycle in 2018: two new iPhones with very similar features, but one with a regular screen and one bigger Plus version.

The timing of the report makes sense, as it’s about 18 months before Apple could be expected to launch the next-next iPhone. Signing a deal this far in advance gives Samsung time to overhaul its factories and buy new tooling, necessary to start work on an assembly line, design production prototypes, and finally start making screens months before launch.

However, other details like the type of glass used in the display (and possibly an under-screen fingerprint sensor) wouldn’t have to be worked out for some time, so this doesn’t mean that the design of the iPhone 9 is remotely finalized yet.

The choice of manufacturing partner also makes sense. Samsung is rumored to be the OLED supplier for the iPhone 8, with a contract for 70 million displays reportedly signed months ago. Even though Samsung and Apple’s consumer electronics arms are forever locked in fierce competition, Apple has leaned heavily on Samsung’s heavier manufacturing arms as a key component supplier in the past.

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