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display development

For Apple, Mobile Display Development is Changing

Credit: Bloomberg
Apple’s screen development and manufacturing facility in Santa Clara, California, on March 15, 2018.
March 19, 2018

Over the weekend, two reports showed just how important and fluid mobile display development has become for Apple as it looks ahead to future mobile devices.

First, on Sunday, Bloomberg reported the iPhone maker was designing and producing device displays using a secret California manufacturing facility. The goal: to eventually design screens in-house.

As Bloomberg explains:

The technology giant is making a significant investment in the development of next-generation MicroLED screens, say the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal planning. MicroLED screens use different light-emitting compounds than the current OLED displays and promise to make future gadgets slimmer, brighter and less power-hungry.

Any would-be Apple designed MicroLED displays aren’t going to be available this year, however. When they do, they’re likely to arrive first on Apple Watch, then to other mobile devices.

For 2018, Apple will continue to rely on others to produce iPhone displays — and a lot of them.

According to DigiTimes, Apple’s securing between 250 million and 270 million iPhone flat-panel units in 2018. As a comparison, Apple sold 216.8 million iPhones in 2017 and 231.2 million in 2015, which was a record. In other words, Apple’s plans on selling a lot of iPhones before the end of the year.

They explain:

Apple’s purchases of OLED panels in 2018 will reach 110-130 million units, including 70-80 million 5.9-inch units for the current iPhone X and an upgraded version of the same size. The remaining will be 40-50 million 6.5-inch OLED panels for the production of a less expensive model, said the sources.

Apple will also take up a total of 60-70 million 6.1-inch all-screen LTPS panels for another new iPhone model to be released in fall 2018, as well as 60-70 million LTPS panels in 4-, 4.7- and 5.5-inch sizes for the production of iPhone 8 devices, iPhone SE and iPhone 7, indicated the sources.

It will be interesting to see where things go from here. Still, it’s clear big changes are coming — just not this year.

The 2018 iPhone lineup should be announced in September alongside new Apple Watches.