Days after Apple stock briefly jumped following reports it may announce new products as soon as next week - most likely involving an update to the company's iPad line - the new product fever returned when moments ago Japan's Nikkei reported that the most expensive iPhone 8 handsets will feature curved screens based on organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology, to be solely provided by Samsung Electronics.
The curve will reportedly be "gentler" than screens in Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge handsets, the Nikkei source reports. This is partly due to the challenges of making curved glass covers to match screens, according to the source. While the curved screen will allow a viewable area of about 5.2 inches and make the iPhone even sleeker, it will not offer significant new functions, the person said.
Hardly new, curved OLED screens on smartphones were pioneered by Samsung, and Chinese companies including Vivo and Huawei have also released high-end handsets with the feature. Smartphone makers have pounced on the new display as they seek to differentiate their designs from a plethora of Android phones available in the saturated global market.
Compared with current mainstream liquid crystal display technology adopted by most smartphones, OLED panels offer sharper color contrast. Perhaps in an indication that it is running out of groundbreaking ideas, Apple is a latecomer to the scene, and like the others, are not thought to be able to offer any game-changing functions with the curved screens.
Some reports suggest that Apple will only give the premium handset a flat display, but the source said that would not be using OLED optimally. Recently analysts have denied curve speculation:
"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 told MacRumors last week. "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," he added. "This new design language is expected to become the trend for 2017, as we all anticipate Samsung's reveal later this month."
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also dismissed the curved-screen rumors. He said he expected Apple's next flagship iPhone to have a screen similar to those of previous iPhone models, with very slightly curved edges. The Chinese research company TrendForce said the same.
As a reminder, Samsung also offers both curve and flat versions of its premium phones. Still, according to Nikkei, the design has not been finalized and could still change.
China's Biel Crystal and Lens Technology will supply the glass backs for the new handsets and, together with key iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, will provide the front glass covers, the person said. Together with the OLED iPhone, Apple is expected to release two other lower-priced handsets with flat screens that measure 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, as part of its 10th anniversary range later this year.
The coming Samsung Galaxy S8 device is also expected to have a longer OLED display with slim bezels and no physical home button after leaked photos revealed what the device might look like, Business Insider reported. Speaking with MacRumors, Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate said he did not have any inside information on the iPhone 8, but he did say that OLED displays made out of a glass substrate were cheaper and "available in much higher production volumes" than curved OLED displays that rely on a flexible plastic substrate.