Corroborating one of the more long-standing rumors about Apple’s 2017 iPhone, a device that might be called the iPhone 8, Sharp CEO Jeng-wu Tai all but confirmed (via Nikkei) that Apple’s next-gen smartphone will feature an OLED display panel.
“The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels,” Tai said during an event at Tatung University over the weekend. “We don’t know whether Apple’s OLED iPhones will be a hit, but if Apple doesn’t walk down this path and transform itself, there will be no innovation. It is a crisis but it is also an opportunity.”
Rumors of Apple abandoning LCD panels in favor of OLED on the iPhone 8 are of course nothing new, but Tai’s position at Sharp and at Foxconn (where he is also an executive) puts him in a unique position to know of Apple’s design plans months in advance.
Interestingly enough, early iPhone rumors suggested that Apple was initially planning to make the switch over to OLED in 2018. Those plans, however, were reportedly accelerated earlier this year amid declining iPhone sales.
As for the impetus behind the upcoming switch, OLED displays offer a number of compelling advantages over current iPhone displays. Not only are OLED displays thinner, they also offer up richer and more vibrant colors than other alternatives. There are, however, some drawbacks to OLED displays that Apple will presumably address before manufacturing begins. Specifically, OLED panels are more expensive to manufacture and the color saturation of the displays has been known to dull over time.
Display technologies aside, next year’s iPhone 8 will reportedly represent one of the biggest iPhone design shifts to date. According to a number of reputable sources, the iPhone 8 will feature an edge to edge display with the home button and the Touch ID sensor embedded into the display itself.
To wit, here’s what John Gruber of Daring Fireball said about the rumored device this past May:
I think next year’s phone, the 2017 model, the one that will come out in September of 2017. What I have heard, now this is not really from the rumor mill but just scuttlebutt that I’ve heard, is that it will be an all-new form factor.
And there have been some rumors, I guess, but what I’m saying is that I’ve heard this independently and it is completely getting rid of the chin and forehead of the phone. The entire face will be the display. And the Touch ID sensor will be somehow embedded in the display. The front-facing camera will somehow be embedded in the display. The speaker, everything. All the sensors will somehow be behind the display.
What I don’t know, and I have no idea, is whether that means that they’re going to shrink the actual thing in your hand to fit the screen sizes we already have, or whether they’re going to grow the screens to fit the devices we’re already used to holding… I don’t know.
Other iPhone 8 rumors we’ve seen floating around point to Apple releasing a premium curved OLED iPhone model as well as a new wireless charging feature.