Apple watchers can add "OLED display" to the list of features we're expecting in the iPhone 7, as hinted by the CEO of Applied Materials.
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The upcoming iPhone 7 is at the center of Apple's rumor mill, and tech watchers are in a frenzy trying to pinpoint the new features we'll see when the smartphone makes its debut.
Despite the fact that little is known about the iPhone 7, it's generating far more excitement than the iPhone 6s did in the United States and China. Customers around the world are planning to hold off on buying their new iPhones until the next model is released.
The anticipation has fueled widespread and varied rumors about how the iPhone will look and operate. Some whispers claim Apple will eliminate the standard headphone jack; others say it won't. A few reports have described the inclusion of a Smart Connector; some disagree.
As with all rumors, it's difficult to say with certainty which reports are rooted in fact and which are simply fabricated. However, sometimes we'll get lucky and a person close to the matter will provide some insight. Gary Dickerson, CEO of Applied Materials, is one such source.
One of the many rumors surrounding the iPhone 7 claims it will have a brighter high-definition display. An April report in the Korea Herald noted Apple and Samsung may be partnering to bring organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, manufactured by Samsung, onto the iPhone.
High-definition OLED displays are thinner and use less battery power than LCD displays. However, they are more difficult to manufacture.
A new update indicates it's likely we will see OLED displays in the iPhone being developed for next year. Applied Materials is one of several businesses contributing to the inclusion of an OLED display in the 2017 iPhone model, Bloomberg reported.
The company, which is the largest to create machinery for screen manufacturing, claimed this division generated $700 million in orders in the second quarter. Normally, it brings in that much in one year.
"It's not a peak or one-time event," said CEO Dickerson. "This is going to be sustainable growth. We all know who is the leader in terms of mobile products."
Dickerson's comments are a strong indication Apple is behind the orders. The mobile giant is the biggest customer for suppliers Samsung, LG, and Sharp Corp., all of which have recently claimed increased spending on new display tech, Bloomberg reported.
Given the orders are happening now, we will likely have to wait until late in 2017 to see the new screens debut on the iPhone. Applied Materials noted it can take up to nine months to build and install machinery.
This update reaffirms the idea that the iPhone being released later in 2016 will have a few minor fixes but not much to get excited about. Industry analysts warn iPhone fans to reserve their enthusiasm for Apple's 2017 model, which Barclays' Mark Moskowitz acknowledged may have an OLED display, among other features.
"The jump could showcase major form factor changes, including OLED, no home button, and wireless charging," said Moskowitz in a research note to investors, as reported by Fortune. "In our view, these potential changes could drive a mega cycle."
Apple is under pressure to turn sales around with its new iPhone model. In its most recent financial report, the company announced the first iPhone sales decline since the smartphone was first released.
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Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio
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