Not enough OLED displays for iPhone 8, says report

It has been widely reported that next year's iPhones will arrive with OLED display panels, but a new report suggests Apple's suppliers won't be able to produce OLED panels in required numbers by the time the next iPhone gets launched.

OLED displays are more difficult to produce but consume less energy compared to LCD display panels in existing iPhones.

A few days ago, we heard rumours that OnePlus' upcoming OnePlus 3T smartphone will feature an LCD display panel instead of an AMOLED one in the OnePlus 3. The reason given for this was that LCD panels are easier to produce in large numbers and will help the company avoid supply issues in various regions. Thanks to some new reports, it now seems Apple is going in the opposite direction by introducing OLED display panels in iPhone 8 instead of LCD ones in existing iPhones. Supplies of the iPhone 8 will thus, like the OnePlus 3, suffer as a result of slower production rates of OLED panels.

Expect a bezel-free iPhone 8, minus a home button, say reports

As of now, Apple is reportedly in talks with four OLED manufacturers- Samsung Display, LG Display, Sharp and Japan Display to produce display panels for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. According to the Bloomberg, Samsung Display may end up being the sole supplier of panels for next year's iPhones but will not be able to produce the panels in required numbers, which could go up to around a 100 million. The report adds that this may force Apple to introduce OLED displays in only one variant of next year's iPhones.

"Apple has already figured in there will be high demand for the OLED model and they’ve also figured out there will be constraints to these panels. The combination of Apple’s stringent quality requirements and the difficulty of producing OLED panels will likely lead to supply constraints," said Dan Panzica, a supply chain analyst at IHS Markit to Bloomberg. It is possible that OLED displays may arrive with a new edition of iPhone 8 Plus which may cost higher than its fellow iPhones.

A few days ago, analysts at Barclays supply chain said that next year's iPhones will be truly bezel-free, with the display hugging the entirety of the iPhone's face. The iconic home button will as a result disappear and is expected to be embedded inside the upcoming iPhones' display screens. The front FaceTime camera may also find itself behind the glass screen but analysts believe the design of the upcoming iPhones are yet to be finalised. According to Nikkei, Apple's new iPhones would "adopt glass casings with metal frames and advanced organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, a design Samsung already uses for its premium handsets. This will give iPhones developed in 2017 a sleeker look and a brighter, more energy-efficient display."

iPhone 8 display will be an OLED one, Sharp CEO lets slip

The report from Bloomberg can be taken with a pinch of salt considering that Sharp CEO Tai Jeng-wu recently revealed that Foxconn will be manufacturing OLED displays for the iPhone 8 and are building a new OLED manufacturing facility in Japan for this purpose. He also said that Foxconn may build a similar manufacturing facility in the United States too if Apple asked them to. "The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS [low-temperature poly-silicon] to OLED panels. 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," he said.

It is thus possible that to ensure timely availability of OLED display panels, Apple may hand out separate contracts to OLED display manufacturers with separate targets and strict timelines. Given that virtually no statement on this will come directly from Apple until the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus get launched, we will be following what these manufacturers state from time to time to get an idea on how Apple plans to incorporate OLED displays in it's next iPhones and in which variants.

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