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iPhone 9 Could Be This Ahead of the Curve

All the talk of late has surrounded Apple's iPhone 8. But the company's iPhone 9 could sport a new type of curved screen.   

Japan Display, one of the companies that provides LCD panels to Apple, told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that it will begin mass-producing curved and bendable LCD displays starting next year.

Credit: Techconfigurations/YouTube

(Image credit: Techconfigurations/YouTube)

While Japan Display didn't say which companies might be signing on to use the company's bendy panels, a Wall Street Journal source told the news outlet that Apple is among the companies considering such a move.

Apple has been rumored to be working on a curved display in this year's flagship handset, the iPhone 8. However, that display would be based on OLED technology -- a first for Apple.

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Since the iPhone's release in 2007, Apple has only offered LCD panels in its smartphones. Those panels, which have come from a few companies, including Japan Display, are neither bendable nor curved. That has been a problem for some critics, who say that Apple should offer a curved display to match its chief competitor, Samsung. The curved S7 Edge is simply more attractive than the flat iPhone 7.

While Apple is said to be working on its first curved screen for this year, that device will reportedly sit alongside two others -- the iPhone 7s and the iPhone 7s Plus -- that will look nearly identical to last year's iPhone 7 and not offer curved displays.

If the Journal's report is true, however, Apple could be doubling down on curved screens for next year.

There will be some notable differences in the Japan Display LCDs compared to OLEDs. For one, the LCDs are made from plastic and not glass, which allows them to bend with ease. OLEDs are typically a bit more flexible and in general, offer better image quality than their LCD counterparts. LCDs also tend to be a bit thicker, even if they're cheaper to produce.

While Apple hasn't confirmed its plans, then, it's possible that its flagship iPhone 9 next year ships with the curved OLED display, and its standard iPhone 9 units offer bendable LCDs. Either way, it appears Apple is at least considering moving away from old-fashioned flat LCDs.

Don Reisinger is a communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter who has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times, as well as Tom's Guide.