The long-rumored technology is practical enough to enable Apple to do something new with the iPhone 6‘s display. But will it be deployed on an iPhone in 2013 or 2014?
For years now, the iPhone rumor mill has waxed poetic about IGZO screen technology for some future iPhone iteration. There are a lot of exciting features associated with IGZO, such as its ultra-thin, flexible physical qualities, as well as its lower use of energy consumption and potential for an even higher definition resolution than what we are seeing on current iPhone models. Many had hoped that it would make its way onto the iPhone 5, but to no avail.
A new report, however, is suggesting that Apple may be eyeing IGZO technology for the iPhone 6.
According to DigiTimes:
“Apple is reportedly further evaluating how much IGZO panel supply will be available in 2013 if it were to use the technology in its next generation iPad, iPad mini and iPhone products, according to industry sources.
The sources said Apple is in further discussions with Sharp over IGZO panel production capacity estimates for 2013 and is also inquiring about whether AU Optronics’ (AUO) L5C line could be used to produce the technology.”
Considering the delta of rumor and change associated with the iPhone and its components, such as Apple’s move away from Samsung, the need for better hardware-side power management, and the unquenchable desire among tech users to see Apple push the envelope as far as display design goes, it’s interesting to consider the possibility that IGZO could find its way onto the iPhone 6, not overlooking the fact that DigiTimes‘ “report” is nebulous at best. If Apple is “looking into” or “further evaluating” the technology, then it suggests to me that 2013 would be a longshot.
Still, DigitTimes seems to be suggesting 2013 as a possibility:
“Meanwhile, market observers said if Japan- and Korea-based panel makers are able to provide adequate IGZO panel capacity to Apple in 2013 for its future products then Korea-based panel makers’ panel shipments are likely to decline during the period.”
I am still of the opinion that Apple will refresh the current iPhone in 2013 to the tune of an “iPhone 5S,” and I do not think that any upgrade to the display will include IGZO technology. For as much as the tech for this next-generation display is rapidly maturing, it is still extremely new and untested in the marketplace (sorry folks — a flashy debut at the CES just doesn’t count).
2014, however, is a distinct possibility.
I’ll admit that my rationale for this assumption is pretty arbitrary, but I see IGZO much like 4G LTE — the consumers were ready for it about a year before Apple designers were willing to equip the iPhone with it. The same may be true for the iPhone 6 — Cupertino may be playing with the technology on its iPhone 6 prototypes, less so for some outrageous “teardrop” form factor that would offer little practical use, and more for its low power consumption and performance.
By Michael Nace