Apple may not be ready to completely ditch LCD screens just yet, if numerous reports are to be believed. The Cupertino-giant, which recently made the switch to OLED screen on an iPhone model with the iPhone X, is planning to purchase advanced LCD screens from Japan Display, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Several other reports have corroborated some of these claims.
The advanced LCD screen, dubbed Full Active by Japan Display, offers a range of improvements over LCD screens in current generation smartphones and on some capabilities, they are just as good as their OLED counterparts at an affordable price point, the company was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal. An interesting feature of Full Active screen is, the report said, it can have very narrow bezel - down to 0.5mm for several millimetres. OLED displays, with inbuilt lighting, do not need the backlighting circuitry LCD displays require, which is the primary reason they've been used for bezel-less displays like the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and LG V30.
The use of Full Active LCD displays may mean Apple will offer near bezel-less designs in the successors of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which for now can be expected to retain LCD displays. This may also be an advantageous solution for future iPhone X style models as well, with Apple sourcing its OLED displays from arch-rival Samsung for now - an uneasy situation at best. OLED displays are also more expensive, with the report citing estimates to claim the iPhone X's OLED display is twice the cost of an LCD counterpart.
Japan Display, which is a joint venture by Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi, says Full Active displays will account for more than 70 percent of the company's business in the year that ends in March 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported. Japan Display supplies screens to a range of smartphone makers including Xiaomi, but it counts Apple as its biggest client, the Wall Street Journal reported. 54 percent of all of Japan Display's revenue in the recent financial year came from Apple, the report added, citing a regulatory filing by the company.
If Apple does end up getting more LCD screens from Japan Display, it would rekindle some life in LCD screens, which are quickly losing their popularity in the high-end smartphone market. Mobile makers such as Samsung, LG and others have been picking OLED screens on their flagship smartphones for some time.
OLED screens consume less power, compared to LCD screens, and also allows only a portion of the display to be active at times, a capability that has been used for various purposes by phone makers. OLED screens also emit brighter light and offers improved colour reproduction. Japan Display told the Wall Street Journal that it plans to start producing OLED screens in April 2019.
The report from the Wall Street Journal follows a claim by the Korean Herald which said earlier this week that Apple was planning to not introduce a 5.28-inch iPhone model featuring OLED screen next year - instead it would launch a large LCD display model. There have been rumours that Apple, which is yet to start shipping the iPhone X which it introduced earlier this month, plans to launch a 5.28-inch iPhone model next year.
At any rate, the Korean Herald, which in turn is citing a report from outlet The Bell, reports that the 5.28-inch iPhone model featuring OLED display is not in the cards any more, and instead Apple is planning to launch an iPhone with larger than six-inch LCD screen. Japan Display would be supplying this display, the news outlet reported on September 25.
That report follows a report from last month on ETNews which claimed that Apple was planning to launch two OLED-featured iPhone models next year. These supposed iPhone models will feature 5.85-inch and 6.46-inch screens respectively.