Samsung, Google Give Apple No Choice For 2017 OLED iPhone
Apple will be facing an iPhone crisis next year.
That’s not my opinion but the view that the president of Japan-based Sharp — a display supplier to Apple — has expressed (more on that below).
And display expert Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies, while not seeing Apple’s predicament in such dire terms, said Apple has no choice going forward.
“Apple has taken the iPhone LCD display as far as it can go,” Soneira told me in an email. “Apple really needs to put OLED displays into their next model iPhones in order to stay at the leading edge of smartphone innovation,” he said. (Dr. Soneira’s iPhone 7 display review here.)
Apple OLED “crisis”: Sharp President Tai Jeng-wu, who is also an executive at Sharp’s parent company Foxconn Technology Group, has gone so far to say that Apple is in an innovation crisis and it needs an OLED iPhone to keep it relevant. Tai seems certain that Apple is bringing out an OLED iPhone next year, when he spoke to the Japan business daily Nikkei recently.
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."
Apple’s main competitors have already moved on to OLED: Needless to say, Samsung already uses (and has been for years) OLED displays on its flagship Galaxy phones, namely the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Google’s new Pixel phones also use OLED displays. As does Huawei (P9 Plus). And the list will only get longer.
Samsung is clearly leading the way with the curved OLED on the S7 Edge. “The most important point is that curved and flexible displays are definitely the wave of the future,” according to Soneira.
Other OLED advantages include very fast response time, better viewing angles, an always-on display mode, as well as image contrast accuracy and screen uniformity, according to Soneira.
“Apple’s rumored move to an OLED iPhone is simply a recognition of all of the above, particularly as more and more competing Smartphones come with OLED displays,” writes Soneira in his review of the latest Samsung Galaxy phone.
The 2017 OLED iPhone: Reports over the past several months have indicated it will have a bezel-less display with glass that curves over the edges and possibly the back. Recent and past reports have also said the home button will be integrated directly into the display (and possibly the camera will be integrated too). Though the size has yet to be nailed down, the display could be between 5.5 and 5.8 inches.
Apple will also likely offer more traditional LCD-based iPhones (possibly falling somewhere in the 4.7- to 5.5-inch range). But OLED is what will bring Apple out of its “crisis” and break the iPhone mold. And allow Apple to compete into the future with (possibly) folding displays.
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