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Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone is slimming down, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing sources who say Apple will use a new technology that makes the smartphone’s screen thinner. The svelte new phone is already reportedly being manufactured by Asian component makers, including Japanese liquid-crystal-display makers Sharp Corp. and Japan Display Inc., as well as LG Display (NYSE:LPL).
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Component makers are mass producing panels for the new iPhone using so-called in-cell technology, according to the WSJ report. The adoption of in-cell technology, the report continues, means Taiwan’s Wintek Corp. and TPK Holding Co. Ltd., which supplied the touch-panel layer of the iPhone 4S screen, did not get orders for the new phone.
The new technology integrates touch sensors into the LCD, making it unnecessary to have a separate touch-screen layer. The absence of that added layer means the screen is thinner and the quality of displayed images will improve, according to DisplaySearch analyst Hiroshi Hayase.
The new technology should simplify the supply chain and help cut costs, according to the report, as Apple would no longer have to buy touch panels and LCD panels from separate suppliers. The thinner screen also leaves extra room for other components that might show up in the new iPhone. The decrease in weight resulting from the thinner screen could also offset the added weight of the much-rumored larger screen.
However, in-cell touch screens are harder to manufacture than conventional LCD screens — sources say manufacturers are finding the process of making the screens both challenging and time-consuming as they work furiously to achieve high yield rates in time for the new iPhone’s expected fall launch.
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