Apple is widely expected to launch a 5.8-inch iPhone with an edge-to-edge OLED display later this year, made possible by slimmer bezels and no Home button. And while some reports have claimed the screen will be curved, a growing number of sources expect the device to stick with a flat display.
“We anticipate Apple will adopt a flat implementation of OLED design on their special iPhone model, which is analogous to the current 2.5D glass design,” IHS Markit analyst Wayne Lam, who researches and analyzes the supply chain of smartphone makers such as Apple, told MacRumors today.
“Much like the recently announced LG G6, we anticipate a touchscreen with a new longer aspect ratio design to take advantage of higher coverage area of the iPhone in its entirety. This new design language is expected to become the trend for 2017, as we all anticipate Samsung’s reveal later this month,” he added.
Lam is referring to the LG G6’s 5.7-inch LCD display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, meaning the screen’s length is double the size of its width. iPhones have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Likewise, leaked pictures of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 reveal a similarly longer display with slim bezels and no physical home button.
Last month, he explained how the LG G6 achieves a large screen while remaining holdable and pocketable:
LG’s G6 is a study in creating large immersive screen designs that do not break the ergonomic requirements of the average human hand. By addressing dueling consumer demands for larger screens but yet more pocketable device, LG took on the challenge of re-imagining what a modern smartphone should look like and function ergonomically.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Chinese research firm TrendForce have also recently said they expect Apple’s next flagship iPhone to have a 2.5D display, which refers to the slightly curved edges that iPhone displays have had since the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 2014.
The Wall Street Journal recently said Apple’s next high-end iPhone will have a curved screen, but the report did not divulge any specific details. The Korea Herald also said the device will have a curved OLED display based on a flexible plastic substrate, rather than glass, which is typically used for flat displays.
Kuo and IHS Markit analyst Kevin Wang previously expected the 5.8-inch iPhone to have a curved screen, possibly with dual curved edges like the Galaxy S7 edge, but each source has since reversed course, which is understandable given Apple has reportedly tested at least ten different iPhone prototypes this year.
Japanese website Nikkei Asian Review and Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis have also outlined expectations for an iPhone with a curved display in the past, so there is clearly a divide between the rumors that might not clear up until “iPhone 8” part leaks likely begin to surface over the coming weeks and months.
One possibility is that reports calling for a “curved” screen are actually referring to the 2.5D cover glass, as seen in previous iPhone rumor cycles. Also, given the flexible properties of OLED, some reports might be simply assuming the next iPhone will have a curved display, when a flat design is still an option.
IHS Markit expects Apple to use OLED on a larger number of iPhone models in the future. Lam noted the longer aspect ratio will afford Apple new uses of the display, such as Touch Bar-like functionality. He also expects the 5.8-inch iPhone to have Touch ID embedded in the display, in line with previous rumors.
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