All three of this year’s iPhones are expected to have the near-bezel-free design of the iPhone X, despite the fact that the cheapest one will have an LCD screen.

It’s so far been unclear how slim the bottom bezel could be when using an LCD screen instead of an OLED one, but a supply-chain report today may have the answer …

Digitimes reports that Japanese company Nichia has won sole supplier status for the backlighting system for the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, and the reason for that is believed to be its lead in a new generation of the technology.

While LTPS-LCD smartphone screens with backlights using 0.4t LED chips have bottom bezels of 4.0-4.5mm, use of 0.3t LED chips can reduce them to 2.0-2.5mm, enhancing LCD screens’ competitiveness against OLED all (bezel-free) screens panels, the sources explained.

Packaging of 0.3t LED chips for side-view backlighting of LTPS-LCD smartphone panels is more difficult in accuracy and stability than that of 0.4t LED chips, the sources noted, adding Nichia began trial production of 0.3t LED chips for use in high-end smartphone models launched by China- and Japan-based vendors in the first half of 2018.

Given the room needed for other tech, it’s still likely that the LCD model will have slightly thicker bezels than the OLED ones, but the difference should be pretty small. Ben Geskin recently posted renders said to be based on leaked schematics (above).

The report says that although Nichia has supplied the chips to other brands, Apple will have near-exclusive access to the supply for the rest of the year.

Apple may have more choice of supplier into next year as multiple companies are reportedly ready or nearly ready to offer the same display tech.

Taiwan-based Epistar and China-based Sanan Optoelectronics are poised to produce 0.3t LED chips, while Taiwan-based LED packaging service providers Everlight Electronics and Unity Opto Technology as well as China-based fellow makers Foshan Nationstar Optoelectronics and Shenzhen Refound Optoelectronics are capable of packaging 0.3t LED chips for side-view backlighting, the sources said.

Apple is expected to launch three new iPhones this fall:

  • An LCD model with a similar design to the iPhone X but with a 6.1-inch screen at a lower price
  • An upgraded version of the 5.8-inch OLED iPhone X
  • An ‘iPhone X Plus,’ a 6.5-inch OLED model

9to5Mac readers are showing most interest in the 6.5-inch model.

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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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