Rumors that Apple will be switching from IPS LCD to OLED displays for future iPhones have been doing the rounds for many years – though the latest one reported by Reuters does get a little more specific than most.

LG and Samsung Display are close to a final agreement with Apple for the screens, the Electronic Times report said, adding the two Korean firms plan a combined 15 trillion won ($12.8 billion) in capital expenditure to build up OLED production capacity over the next two to three years.

It was claimed last month that Apple plans to start using OLED screens for iPhones starting in 2018, supporting an earlier report that Apple would be sticking with LCD for the iPhone 7.

There are pros and cons to the competing display technologies …

OLED displays can be thinner than the LCD technology used in current iPhone screens, and allow far deeper blacks – a feature Apple puts to good use in the Apple Watch, where it’s virtually impossible to tell where the display ends and the bezel begins. Jony Ive is a fan for this reason.

OLED is also more power-efficient than LCD where the majority of the content is black, as it is with the Apple Watch, but this would not deliver much benefit in an iPhone unless Apple used a black theme for a future version of iOS.

Finally, OLED also allows more vivid colors, though this can be a mixed blessing, making photos appear over-saturated.

On the downside, OLED has higher manufacturing costs, displays have a shorter lifespan and don’t match the brightness of LCD. Back in 2013, Tim Cook cited both brightness and color accuracy as drawbacks of OLED screens.

Samsung is said to be likely to get the bigger slice of the pie than LG, with Apple reportedly planning to provide both companies with funding to help with setup costs.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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