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Apple is developing its own OLED panels, to reduce dependence on Samsung

19 March 2018

Apple is said to be releasing at least three new iPhone models this year: a followup to the iPhone X, an iPhone X Plus, and a more "budget-friendly" variant of the iPhone X, which - according to Forbes - could still cost as much as $799 (about RM3,130).

The secret project is code named T159 and is headed by Lynn Youngs, who oversees iPhone and Apple Watch screen technology, Bloomberg reported. The new MicroLED technology is said to be superior to OLED display tech, and will also help it reduce its reliance on fierce rival Samsung, which now supplies the OLED panels fitted to the iPhone X.

For future devices, Apple may stop relying on outside suppliers for its displays.

A video leaked on Thursday that allegedly showed Apple's upcoming iPhone SE 2 for the first time ever. A MicroLED screen facility, however, is a first for Apple.

The plant is sufficient enough for small scale manufacturing operations, allowing Apple to keep MicroLED engineering and testing in house through development process, a source told the publication. The Apple Watch screen is made by LG Display.

At the moment, the iPhone X is Apple's first phone which uses an OLED display.

The company is also rumoured to most likely bring back the LCD display with a metallic case on an iPhone, just like the iPhones launched before the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Citing sources familiar with Apple's plans, a report by Nikkei points out that the 6.1-inch LCD model will probably sport a metal back [like older iPhones] available in several colors, adding that the other two OLED handsets will come in two sizes: one about 6.3 inches long and the other 5.8 inches.

In late 2017, Apple managed to manufacture fully functional MicroLED screens for the Apple Watch. It would be quite unusual to blend the two designs like that, but Apple has made plenty of odd decisions over the past couple of years. Depending on screen size, they can contain millions of individual pixels. Each piece comes from what is known as a "donor wafer" and then are mass-transferred to the MicroLED screen.

Engineers at the facility are also assembling prototype MicroLED screens, right down to attaching the screen to the glass. After suffering lukewarm sales of the OLED-fitted iPhone X, the U.S. tech firm is expected to put more focus on a 6.1-inch LCD-equipped iPhone, which will likely be released together with 6.5-inch and 5.8-inch OLED iPhones in the latter half.

Apple is developing its own OLED panels, to reduce dependence on Samsung