Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes is reporting that Apple has placed orders for display driver chips from supplier Synaptics for 2016 iPhones. This is interesting because rumors were swirling back in 2014 that Apple was buying Renesas SP Drivers, a division of Renesas Electronics and a sole supplier of LCD driver chips for iPhones.
The deal was supposed to help Apple “improve image sharpness and battery life” on iPhones, but negotiations broke down. Renesas was later acquired by touchscreen chipmaker Synaptics which wanted to combine its touch technology with Renesas’ display drivers into one chip.
DigiTimes thinks the fact that Apple has placed orders for iPhone display driver chips with Synaptics indicates that its own in-house touch and display driver single-chip solution won’t be ready for the iPhone 7.
“The development of Apple’s in-house touch and display driver integration has fallen behind schedule, as the smartphone vendor has released orders for its 2016 models to Synaptics,” said the sources.
Both Renesas and Synaptics were on Apple’s list of suppliers at the time of this writing. It’s unclear if Renesas is still the sole supplier of iPhone display chips like it used to be prior to the acquisition deal with Synaptics.
DigiTimes states that Apple did hire senior engineers from Renesas as it intends to develop its own iPhone display driver chip. A single, custom-designed solution to drive the iPhone’s display would permit Apple to further optimize battery life and introduce additional optimizations while using fewer chips.