Apple is purportedly looking to drop LCD screens from its iPhone lineup, starting with the 2020 iPhone. This year’s iPhone XR successor would be the last flagship LCD model, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The move to OLED will enable “more flexible handset design”, hinting at an ambitious 2020 iPhone roadmap. We already see this somewhat today with the iPhone XR featuring larger bezels than its OLED counterparts.
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Down the road, Apple has been exploring how to go beyond the rectangular glass slab. Last year, Bloomberg reported on some of Apple’s drastic design research projects such as the addition of hover gestures and banana-esque curved iPhones.
It is likely that the 2020 iPhone design is a radical departure from what we know today. The 2019 iPhone chassis is expected to be more of an iterative change.
LCD has fallen out of fashion in the last few years primarily because it requires a standalone backlight component. The pixels of an OLED screen are individually lit, allowing them to be used in devices with more irregular shapes. Apple has also been exploring microLED displays as another LCD alternative.
As the industry heads moves away from LCD, LCD panel suppliers are scrambling to find new revenue streams. The rest of the WSJ report describes how Japan Display is in a lurch as it relies so much on LCD orders from Apple.
Falling demand for LCD displays and lower-than-expected iPhone XR demanded impact Japan Display’s financials significantly.
On the flipside, OLED makers will benefit if the 2020 iPhone lineup indeed switches to the screen technology across the board.