Could the Apple iPhone 8 Strike Gold with Its Curved Screen?


Dec. 2 2016, Updated 5:04 p.m. ET

Suppliers asked to boost capacity

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Apple (AAPL) is seriously considering producing the next iPhone with a curved OLED[1. organic light-emitting diode] screen. The company has asked its display suppliers in Japan and elsewhere to expand their OLED display production capacity. Apple is also asking those suppliers to create OLED screens with better resolution than those produced by Samsung (SSNLF).

With these improved OLED screens, Apple is hoping to produce a hit iPhone for 2017 to improve its sagging fortunes in the smartphone market.

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Tough to design, costly to produce

OLED displays are favored in smartphones because they render better resolution than LCD screens. Additionally, OLED screens eliminate the need for a backlight, which allows for the production of thinner handsets.

The drawback of OLED displays is that they are difficult to design and expensive to produce. Apple’s display suppliers—Japan Display, Sharp, and LG Display—are struggling to mass-produce these screens for smartphones.

As a result, analysts say that Apple would have expand its sourcing for OLED screens if it decides to use them in the iPhone 8, which is expected to be released in 2017. Apple may have to turn to its rival Samsung for OLED supplies to make its curved surface iPhone 8 a reality.

Apple has tried to diversify its components suppliers, partly to avoid exposing its design plans to Samsung. Samsung is Apple’s fierce competitor in the premium smartphone market.

If Apple can’t secure enough OLED screens for the next iPhone, analysts say the company may roll out a few iPhone 8 models with OLED displays and produce the rest with LCD displays.

A boon for OLED technology providers

Apple’s move to OLED displays in iPhones is expected to be a boost to Coherent (COHR), Universal Display (OLED), and Applied Materials (AMAT), which provide OLED technologies.


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