It was reported that Sony will be making in-cell displays for Apple’s next-generation iPhone. With the manufacturing process set to kick off by the end of the month, the supplier will work alongside three other companies.
Sony: Supplying In-cell Panels for Apple
Market research firm IHS Displaybank noted that Sony has started manufacturing the so-called in-cell panels last February. The company will ramp up its production this month to be in time with the rumored iPhone launch this fall. The Japanese electronics giant will join Sharp Corp., Toshiba Mobile Display and LG Display Co.
In-cell screen technology enables thinner smartphones because its design embeds the display’s capacitive touch sensors into the LCD filter array instead of stacking two components on separate pieces of glass. But because of its complexity, it has a relatively low fabrication yield, forcing Apple to secure the component from different suppliers.
Stone Wu, senior analyst at IHS Displaybank, believes that companies that are starting their mass production this month can only reach an average yield of 65 to 70 percent as of the moment. He also pointed out that the manufacturers of iPhone 4S’ in-plane switching screen unit only yields about 80 to 85 percent at present.
On the other hand, Taiwanese display makers AU Optronics and Chimei Innolux are also gearing up for in-cell products although they are less likely to work with Apple because their facilities won’t be ready until the second quarter of this year.
AU Optronics is already supplying components to the iPhone maker, and it will allegedly manufacture LCDs to the company’s unannounced iPad Mini. The said device is said to hit the stores in the third or fourth quarter of 2012.
What’s In Store for In-cell Panels?
Although in-cell panels may see some use in high-end devices, it is projected that the capacitive screen technology used will account for the majority of touchscreen market next year of up to 77.2 percent. Apple has compelled the market to produce capacitive display when it introduced the Retina Display in iPhone 4, and they might do the same with in-cell screens.
Other than its complex screen technology, Apple’s next-generation iPhone will feature a 4-inch display. In addition, LG, Sharp and Japan Display Inc. were tapped to provide the said component.
Meanwhile, South Korean electronics company Samsung was not on the list of suppliers although they were the sole provider of Retina Displays for the new iPad. If the rumors will turn out to be true, this would be the Apple’s first flight from its 3.5-inch form factor that was introduced with the original iPhone in 2007.