Both TPK Holding and Wintek expect to see shipments of iPhone touch sensor panels to decline by around 15--20 percent during Q2 2012 as Apple shifts to in-cell touch technology for its next-generation smartphone, reports DigiTimes.
The iPhone's touch panel sensor is a separate layer to the LCD screen. Apple is expected to move to a solution called in-cell technology with the iPhone 5. This sees both the screen and touch sensor layers combined into a single layer. This comes as bad news for both TPK and Wintek, as the two companies will no longer be required to supply touch panel sensors for the new iPhone.
The new in-cell panels are expected to be both cheaper to produce and thinner than the current panels. The fact that they are thinner could allow the next iPhone to have a few tenths of a millimeter shaved off the thickness.
Alternatively, a thinner screen could mean more space inside the device for a bigger battery to power all the new technology.
TPK claims a stockpile of iPhone 4S handsets, combined with a general slowdown in sales as customers put off buying a new iPhone in anticipation of the upcoming release, will see the company experience a fall in revenue of about 10 percent during the second-quarter of 2012.
Wintek has reported that revenues fell 11.4 percent in April to $317.43 million following record earnings in March.
Sources estimate that the overall shipments of touch panels from the two companies during the second half of 2012 will equal one-third of the shipments seen during in the first half of the year.
It's worth noting that while the touch panel and screen are separate components in the iPhone 4S, they cannot be independently replaced. In the event of a cracked screen, the entire unit has to be replaced. This means that a shift to in-cell touch technology doesn't make the screen any more costly to replace.
Image credit: KGI Research.
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