From rumors circulating about the iPhone 8, it's clear that the display is going to be a major focal point for Apple's next smartphone. What's less clear is exactly what kind of display the iPhone 8 will feature.
Based on a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple would very much like that panel to be a curved OLED screen. The Journal says that Apple is telling its suppliers to churn out more OLEDs with an eye toward developing screens that have better resolution than what Samsung's producing.
That could prove to be a challenge. The Journal story, which is as much about the intricacies of the display supply chain as it is about iPhone rumors, notes that display makers LG, Sharp and Japan Display are playing catch-up to Samsung's OLED efforts. Apple is likely to get its OLEDs from Samsung initially, but it wants those three companies to be in a position to supply displays by 2018, the Journal says That's going to require billions in investment.
Perhaps that's why Apple may be hedging its bets on exactly what the next iPhone will look like. The Journal says Apple is considering more than 10 prototypes for its next phone, and a curved OLED model may only be available as a higher-end, more expensive iPhone — if it comes out at all in 2017.
That's actually in line with previous rumors about the iPhone 8's display. While an OLED screen is certainly expected for the next iPhone, a shortage of OLED panels could mean that the feature only makes it into one iPhone model. A report from analysts at Barclays Research suggests Apple would restrict an OLED panel to the iPhone 8 Plus, while KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo notes that Apple may add an OLED-equipped iPhone alongside two standard models with LCD screens.
Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's debut, and it's widely believed Apple wants to make the 2017 model a memorable one. OLED panels would certainly achieve that. OLEDs offer more saturated colors and display purer blacks for better contrast. You'd also enjoy wider viewing angles and less battery drain.
Upgrading the iPhone's display would certainly help Apple keep pace with the flagship phones coming out of Samsung — if Apple's suppliers are able to meet the demand for OLED screens.