Curved screens could be coming to the iPhone in 2017

OLED displays will give Apple the opportunity to bring to market an iPhone with a curved display.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Do you like the iPhone but wish it had a curved display like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge? Then 2017 could be the year your wish becomes a reality.

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According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Apple has instructed its suppliers to "increase output of thinner organic light emitting displays [OLED] and submit prototype screens with better resolution than ones from Samsung to differentiate its models."

Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, and with slowing smartphone sales, Apple is under pressure to deliver something really special. The display is one area that the company is experimenting with.

But the article does hedge its bets by saying, "Apple may decide not to release the model because it is one of more than 10 prototypes being considered."

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It makes sense for Apple to focus on the display. It is, after all, the part of the iPhone that people interact with the most, and while bumping processor speeds and capacities are important, these changes are not the kind that are immediately obvious to the end user.

But the problem is the only manufacturer that can currently mass-produce OLED displays is Samsung. The company has invested some $10 billion in the technology over the past year. Other players in the display market -- specifically LG Display, Japan Display, and Sharp -- are lagging behind in OLED technology.

Apple going mass-market with an OLED-equipped iPhone could put pressure on the OLED supply chain, and that in turn could mean that supplies of any iPhone using an OLED display could be constrained.

Another factor that Apple will no doubt be paying close attention to is how OLED will affect its bottom line. OLED displays may be thinner and lighter than LCD displays, but they are also more expensive, and they could add around $50 to the iPhone's bill or materials.

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