2020 iPhones may adopt more power efficient, thinner displays

iPhone 11

This is not the first time that it’s been rumored Apple could adopt thinner displays for future iPhones, so add this to the growing pile.

According to a new report from The Elec (via MacRumors), LG Display is making some changes to its production lines, switching to flexible, GEN-6 OLED panels for smaller displays. The company will need to add some new equipment to produce touch-integrated panels. It will also be switching to LTPO backplane technology for the displays.

LG Display is aiming to upgrade its production facilities for flexible, Gen-6 OLED panels for smaller displays at its E6 lines in Paju of Gyeonggi Province. For this, the firm will be adding new equipment by early 2020 to produce touch-integrated panels, while switching to the LTPO backplane technology.

As the E6 lines are known to be Apple-exclusive, the touch-integrated screens are to be supplied to the new iPhones to be launched next year, according to industry sources on Dec. 17.

The adoption of touch-integrated panels means the displays can be thinner. However, it’s not known if this means that Apple is going to make a shift to thinner iPhones in general compared to the iPhone 11 series. It’s worth noting that the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are actually a bit thicker than the iPhone models those handsets replaced, so a shift back to thinner models would be an interesting move.

The use of low-temperature polycrystalline oxide has some benefits. LTPO display technology, where the backplane handles turning on and turning off individual pixels in the display. This, and the overall structure of the display technology, means it’s possible to get upwards of 15% less power consumption when compared to a standard low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) design. LTPS is what Apple currently uses in the iPhone lineup.

Apple has been using LTPO display tech in the Apple Watch for a bit of time now, so it would make sense for Apple to shift the technology over to the iPhone lineup.

Meanwhile, in order to switch to LTPO backplane technology, LG Display needs Oxide equipment, which is likely to enter the Paju plant in the latter half of 2020. This equipment is said to have a monthly production volume of around 30,000.

LTPO is a low-energy OLED display technology that Apple first commercialized for the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. The LTPO OLED panels for the watches were mass produced at LGD’s E2 plant in Paju. These will now be produced from the Gen-6 OLED lines.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard Apple will adopt LTPO display tech for future iPhones, so it’s certainly starting to look like we could see the change happen later this year.

Hopefully this doesn’t mean we’ll get smaller batteries in the 2020 iPhone lineup.