In a report by Nikkei today, that timeline has been bumped up slightly based on two industry sources, who said that Apple is planning to use OLED displays “in all new iPhone models launched from the second half of 2018.”
To date, Apple has not utilized OLED technology in its iPhone. Its only OLED products are the Apple Watch and the MacBook Pro Touch Bar.
Apple is planning to use advanced organic light-emitting diode displays in all new iPhone models launched from the second half of 2018, according to two industry sources.
One said that Apple is tentatively looking at releasing three new models next year. Apple did not respond to an email seeking comments.
That’s expected to change this fall, with the so-called “iPhone 8” rumored to feature a 5.2-inch OLED display. It’s believed that the handset will be a premium-priced, flagship model, flanked by “iPhone 7s” models sporting traditional LCD screens in 4.7- and 5.5-inch form factors.
Thursday’s report didn’t give any indication as to what screen sizes could use OLED panels in the second half of 2018. It’s possible that Apple could stick with sizes of 4.7, 5.2 and 5.5 inches, or do something else entirely —like an even larger “phablet” device, or a next-generation 4-inch successor to the iPhone SE.
According to Nikkei, the LCD “iPhone 7s” and “iPhone 7s Plus” are expected to be sold into early 2019, likely transitioning into budget models after a fall of 2018 refresh, if Apple sticks to its usual release schedules.
With OLED technology, each individual pixel is self-lit, which means “black” (unused) pixels do not require as much power as illuminated pixels. OLED panels can also be flexible, allowing for new form factors like curved screens.
Samsung Display declined to comment. It is unclear whether Samsung will remain the exclusive OLED supplier in 2018 even though other rivals are still struggling to churn out OLED panels for smartphones. Apple usually prefers more than one supplier for a single component. The two companies are also locked in fierce competition in the global smartphone market.
The OLED screen in the Apple Watch is paired with a dark user interface, playing a key role in giving the wearable device a full day of battery life. A long-rumored “dark mode” in iOS could offer similar battery savings for OLED-equipped iPhones.
For now, this year’s “iPhone 8” is expected to be produced in extremely limited quantities, held back by a number of new technologies rumored to be introduced, including an edge-to-edge OLED screen that will see the removal of bezels and the physical home button. As plans for the 2018 iPhone lineup begin to shape up, it sounds as though Apple hopes that any OLED capacity issues will be resolved over the next year.
To that end, Apple has been investing significantly in OLED manufacturers and facilities, aiming to boost production of displays beyond what the market can currently provide. The world’s top OLED manufacturer, Samsung, has also been spending billions to increase capacity in anticipation of Apple’s switch to OLED.
About half of wafers produced at Micron Taiwan fab scrapped, says report
An incident at a fabrication plant has resulted in the loss of some quantity of DRAM, which will further stress supplies of the commodity, industry wide. Early reports cited by DigiTimes, declaring that nitrogen mishandling caused the problem, claim that up to 50 percent of the wafers in production were trashed as a result of an incident, with TrendForce estimating that 5.5 percent of the global production for July was impacted.
Micron has acknowledged that there was an incident, but differs about the impact to global supply —but shared no numbers on losses.
“Regarding recent rumors about Micron’s fabrication facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan, Micron hereby clarifies that there was no nitrogen leaking incident nor evacuating of personnel,” Micron said in a statement to Reuters. “There was indeed a minor facility event but operations are recovering speedily without material impact to the business.”
The facility in question, the ex-Inotera Memories foundry, is known to have produced LPDDR4 iPhone RAM in the past.
Apple has historically caused strain on the DRAM supply when it ramps up iPhone production. As a result of Apple’s seasonal production demands, and the fabrication facility accident prices across the board for mobile and desktop RAM are expected to keep climbing for the remainder of the year
3D NAND shortages forcing Apple to use Samsung as a supplier, again
Other reports from the supply chain suggest that Sk Hynix and Toshiba are having lower than expected yield rates of 3D NAND flash storage chips, first used in the iPhone 7, and destined for the new batch of iPhones expected in the fall. Apple has other suppliers for the technology, including Samsung, so it is not clear how much of a problem the industry-wide shortage will be.
While less commoditized than DRAM, 3D NAND is still an important technology in the industry. Supplies of the storage chip aren’t expected to ease until the middle of 2018, also according to TrendForce.