Apple is reportedly planning to change a key component of every iPhone lineup by 2020, and now one of its major suppliers is scrambling
- Apple buys LCD screens for the iPhone XR, the iPhone 8, and other models from Japan Display.
- But Apple is likely to cut LCD screens from its new iPhone lineup as soon as 2020, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
- This has forced Japan Display to seek a sale to Chinese and Taiwanese buyers, the report said.
Since launching the first iPhone in 2007, Apple has each year introduced a new phone with a liquid-crystal display, or LCD screen.
In recent years, more expensive iPhone models have used organic light-emitting diode displays, or OLED screens, which have superior display quality. But for cost reasons, Apple has continued to release new devices with LCD screens.
In 2018's lineup, for example, the iPhone XR uses an LCD screen, while Apple's higher-end iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max use OLED screens.
That looks to be changing starting in 2020, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Apple is likely to drop LCD displays from its new iPhone lineup entirely, The Journal reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with Apple's production plans.
This is stressing Apple's LCD supplier Japan Display, which is mostly funded by the Japanese government. The report said it was considering selling to Chinese and Taiwanese investors, including TPK Holdings, which makes touch-panel parts for the iPhone, and the China-owned Silk Road Fund.
Though LCD displays have been commoditized in recent years, Japan Display may have value to a buyer given its close ties to Apple, according to the report.
But Apple is unlikely to omit LCD displays from its lineup entirely in 2019. Apple releases new iPhones in September, and the design for this year's models have started to be locked down.
Apple is expected to release three new iPhone models this year, based on reports and analyst rumours:
- An iPhone XR sequel with an LCD display and a double-lens camera on the back, a change from the XR's single camera. The 2018 version starts at R17,299
- An iPhone XS sequel with Apple's higher-quality OLED screen and a double-lens camera on the back, like the 2018 model. That device starts at R20,999.
- An iPhone XS Max sequel, but with a triple-lens camera. The 2018 model costs R30,739 or more.
Apple has had a difficult time in the stock market since November, when it said it would no longer provide iPhone unit sales to investors and slash it guidance for its all-important holiday quarter by at least R60 billion, suggesting iPhone sales had missed Apple's expectations by millions of units.
Data also suggests that customers are getting less excited for each new generation of iPhones.
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