The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple will go all OLED for the iPhone 2020, upgrading its entry model from LCD.
The story about Japan Display — an LCD panel manufacturer that has seen its business affected by the failing iPhone XR — contains that nugget, claiming that going all OLED will make possible a “more flexible handset design” and pointing out that Apple’s plans for the 2020 iPhones are big.
It seems Cook, Ive and Co. finally got the memo.
The company really needs a major design change to justify upgrades. Like Samsung, Apple’s last phone generation has been an underwhelming incremental revision that, coupled with high prices, have failed to fire up the upgrade frenzy that characterized previous generations.
The iPhone X, despite its almost-all-screen design (oh notch!) was not much better, pushing fluffy features like Animoji. Face ID was a leap forward, but not enough of one to win over upgraders.
With almost every phone looking like an iPhone XS and a handful of top Chinese manufacturers actually driving design and technological innovation at a fraction of Apple’s prices, the company urgently needs to reignite sales.
In the past few years, unit sales have been falling at a steady rate. “[Unit] sales peaked way back in 2015,” says Forbes, “last year, Apple sold 14 million fewer phones than it did three years ago.”
For sure, a lot of this is market saturation. But think about those higher prices. A basic iPhone 6 — the 2014 equivalent to the iPhone XS — had a $649 price tag. The current flagship is $999, almost a $300 price jump.
The Cupertino company needs to do something. If it wants to keep those prices, the features have to be irresistible. Mainly insanely good battery life and extraordinary design that makes people turn their heads like it used to do.