Apple is widely expected to launch no fewer than three new iPhones later this year and while one of those is expected to be a less costly LCD model, it is also expected that all three iPhones will have small bezels similar to that of the iPhone X.
While the use of OLED screens makes this eminently possible – just look at the iPhone X – the same cannot be said for standard LCD manufacturing techniques. However, according to one supply chain report the answer may be around the corner.
According to a new report by the always semi-reliable DigiTimes, Japanese firm Nichia has won a contract to be the sole supplier of the backlighting system that will be used in the new 6.1-inch LCD “iPhone 9” thanks to a new generation of technology that will allow for smaller bezels than would normally be the case.
While LTPS-LCD smartphone screens with backlights using 0.4t LED chips have bottom bezels of 4.0-4.5mm, use of 0.3t LED chips can reduce them to 2.0-2.5mm, enhancing LCD screens’ competitiveness against OLED all (bezel-free) screens panels, the sources explained.
Packaging of 0.3t LED chips for side-view backlighting of LTPS-LCD smartphone panels is more difficult in accuracy and stability than that of 0.4t LED chips, the sources noted, adding Nichia began trial production of 0.3t LED chips for use in high-end smartphone models launched by China- and Japan-based vendors in the first half of 2018.
While this will allow bezels to be smaller on most LCD devices it is still unlikely that they will be as small as iPhones with OLED panels inside. However, the difference in bezel size is expected to be relatively small, allowing the 6.1-inch iPhone to look very similar to its more costly stable mates.
With Nichia having an exclusive deal in place now, it looks like Apple may gain additional sources for the same kinds of panels as soon as next year, according to the report, with other companies also coming online.
Taiwan-based Epistar and China-based Sanan Optoelectronics are poised to produce 0.3t LED chips, while Taiwan-based LED packaging service providers Everlight Electronics and Unity Opto Technology as well as China-based fellow makers Foshan Nationstar Optoelectronics and Shenzhen Refound Optoelectronics are capable of packaging 0.3t LED chips for side-view backlighting, the sources said.
All three of Apple’s new iPhones, the 6.1-inch iPhone, the 5.8-inch iPhone X replacement and the 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus, are expected to debut around September time with a release coming a matter of days or weeks later.
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