Don’t look now, but Apple’s OLED shift for iPhones could be even bigger next year

The iPhones of 2019 could all have bigger, brighter displays than the LED seen here on the iPhone 7 Plus.
Image: lili sams/mashable

Forget the iPhone 8.

We already (kind of) know enough about what’s coming with this year’s upcoming slate of Apple smartphones you know, the ones we can’t even confirm the official names for yet to jump on the speculation train for the next slew of handsets coming from Cupertino … in 2018.

The 2018 iPhones (lets call them the iPhone 9 & company) are expected to complete the shift to a new display technology Apple is slated to make with this year’s premium iPhone 8. The company is rumored to be working on three iPhone models for 2018, all of which will use OLED screens, according to a report from Nikkei picked up by 9to5 Mac.

The report comes via two “industry sources,” who told Nikkei that Apple’s OLED plans will expand beyond just a deluxe version of the iPhone, which is the only one of the three handsets expected later this fall to come bearing the new displays. The other two phones, which are slated to be modest updates of the current iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, will reportedly still sport the conventional LCD screens used in today’s phones.

OLED’s big draw over LCD is its increased brightness, with better color reproduction and contrast without the use of a backlight since each individual pixel lights up. Having one less layer makes the OLED displays thinner and more flexible, too.

We’ve heard variations of this rumor before. The timetable for a full-on switch to OLED for all iPhone models was 2019 back in March, when supply chain sources reported a more gradual shift to the new displays over the next three design cycles.

A fast track to OLED adoption could throw the smartphone supply chain for a loop which could be great for Apple’s top competition, Samsung, which produces its own displays for its OLED-sporting phones. The South Korean company is Apple’s exclusive supplier of OLED panels for at least the next generation of iPhones, and a full-on adoption of the display tech could mean even more business.

Samsung Display is reviewing plans to open a new OLED manufacturing site in Asan, South Korea, by 2018, according to the report, which could help to push production of the displays to new levels. At least until Apple finds another supplier, potentially its own OLED lab or by bolstering another producer, like LG.

We’ve heard that the OLED-sporting iPhone 9 could also come with massive 5.28-inch and 6.46-inch screen sizes, according to a May supply chain rumor but that only mentioned two models, not three, so clearly there’s a disconnect between the multiple supply chain sources staving off Apple’s best efforts to keep its secrets under wraps.

As always, we should remember that these are all just rumors and speculation that won’t ever be confirmed by anyone but Apple when it reveals the final product. Even when we think we know everything about an iPhone, like the unnamed 2017 model I told you to forget about earlier, we could be basing our beliefs on nothing more than an analyst’s hyped-up hunch.

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