WSJ: Apple to transition iPhones to an OLED-only lineup in 2020

LCD technology is one of the ways Apple differentiates more affordable iPhones from flagship models. If the latest report is anything to go by, the Cupertino company is prepping to getting rid of LCD screens and transition its smartphone lineup to OLED-only models in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal wrote this morning:

Apple is likely to drop LCD displays altogether in its 2020 iPhone lineup in favor of organic light-emitting diode displays that allow for more flexible handset design, people familiar with the production plans have said.

The report mentioned that as a side-note because the crux of the story deals with the various challenges facing supplier Japan Display, which builds the LCD screens with rounded corners for the iPhone XR series. The narrative out there is that the XR is not selling according to Apple’s expectations, which has prompted Japan Display to come up with the model to seek a bailout from an investor group from China and Taiwan.

Japan Display Inc. is in advanced talks with Taiwan’s TPK Holdings Co. and Chinese state-owned Silk Road Fund about an investment that would include a stake of about 30% with the possibility of greater control later, people familiar with the matter said. The size of the investment isn’t decided but could reach around ¥60 billion (around $550 million) or more, the people said.

The Chinese investors are interested in building display factories in China using Japan Display’s technology. The deal could be announced as soon as mid-February, when the company reports quarterly earnings.

This is the result of Japan Display’s exposure to Apple: more than half of its revenue in the year ended March 2018 came from Apple, but that revenue has been decreasing steadily since Apple began transitioning iPhones to OLED panels last year. The iPhone maker buys OLEDs for the iPhone X, XS and XS Max series from Samsung Display and, probably, LG Display.

My takeaway from the WSJ story: the next iPhone XR will use an OLED panel.