Apple Taps LG, Samsung For OLED iPhone Displays, Report Claims - InformationWeek

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11:05 AM

Apple Taps LG, Samsung For OLED iPhone Displays, Report Claims

A new report indicates Apple will be turning to some of its smartphone rivals -- LG and Samsung -- to finally make the switch to OLED displays for its iPhones.

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South Korean electronics giants LG and Samsung may be Apple's rivals in the larger smartphone market, but the iPhone manufacturer is reportedly close to an agreement with the two companies to supply organic light emitting diode (OLED) screens for its next-generation iPhone.

The report in South Korea's Economic Times cited unnamed industry sources who also said LG Display and Samsung will invest close to $13 billion to build out production facilities. LG currently supplies the OLED components for the Apple Watch, but providing display screens for Apple's best-selling product will require much larger capacity.

The advantages to OLED displays versus LCD displays is reduced thickness and improved picture quality. A November article in Japanese publication Nikkei reported that Apple would make the switch over to OLED displays in 2018.

(Image: samsonovs/iStockphoto)

(Image: samsonovs/iStockphoto)

Another advantage to using OLED screens is that they also can be bent and rounded to a certain degree, giving companies greater flexibility when designing devices. Samsung began taking advantage of the flexibility that OLED displays offer with its Galaxy line of smartphones.

The Galaxy Note 5, for example, has a 5.7-inch high resolution quad HD 2560x1440 pixel display with 518 pixels per inch, while the S6 Edge+ has a curved screen OLED display that is manufactured on a flexible plastic material, allowing it to bend around the body of the smartphone.

The report also noted Apple is likely provide some funding to both firms to help with the investments, though Samsung is likely to get bigger volumes from Apple than LG will.

Other smartphone manufacturers have also climbed aboard the OLED bandwagon as well. The Motorola-made Nexus 6, the latest Nexus smartphone currently available, is the third smartphone in the Google Nexus lineup to make use of an OLED display, after the Samsung-made Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus.

The LG G Flex 2 flexible-display smartphone comes with a curved Plastic OLED panel, while the Nokia Lumia 930 makes use of a 5-inch AMOLED panel.

In addition to reaching out to display specialists like LG and Samsung, Apple has built a secret research facility in Taiwan to experiment with and develop next-generation display technology, according to a Dec. 15 report in Bloomberg.

The production lab, located in northern Taiwan, is dedicated to fabricating new display technologies for the iPad and the iPhone. It employs a staff of around 50 people, according to unnamed sources quoted in the article.

[Read more about what people are saying about the iPhone 7.]

A potential OLED display isn't the only rumor circulating around the upcoming iPhone (which won't likely be unveiled until September, let's remember), with a recent report in Japanese tech site Mac Otakara quoting an unnamed but "reliable" source which claimed Apple was getting ready to dump the standard 3.5-mm headphone jack found on smartphones the world over and use the iPhone's Lightning connector dock as the audio output jack as well.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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