According to a pre-publication note in DIGITIMES, which cites "Taiwan-based Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) supply chain makers," the iDevice maker is rumored to "have plans to launch a 5.8-inch iPhone featuring rigid AMOLED display panels in 2018 or even earlier in 2017."
Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) Display is said to be the "first candidate" to supply these panels, with LG Display and Japan Display joining in later. It's worth noting that although LG Display should be in a position to supply AMOLED displays in high volumes in the 2017, Japan Display has said that it is targeting 2018 for the mass-production start of OLED displays.
Per the note, DIGITIMES' supply chain sources believe that 50 million of these AMOLED-equipped iPhones will make it out to customers in the first year of availability.
This sounds like a second-generation iPhone Pro
According to reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is planning to release two variants of its large-screen iPhone 7 Plus this year: one with a single-lens camera and one with a dual-lens camera. The dual-lens variant has been rumored elsewhere to be marketed as the iPhone Pro.
Although it doesn't appear that the initial iPhone Pro will come equipped with an AMOLED display, particularly if it launches alongside the iPhone 7/7 Plus this fall, it could make a lot of sense for a second-generation iPhone Pro -- which could launch in the fall of 2017 -- to come equipped with such a display.
Such a product would surely be priced higher than the already pricey Plus model, meaning that even if the AMOLED displays on the device cost more, the device's higher price should more than offset the component cost increase.
Whatever it takes, Apple -- get OLED into the iPhone
Apple is widely believed to be falling behind its competition in display technology, so a transition to more advanced OLED displays -- even if it is limited to a high-end halo iPhone model -- is something that Apple needs to pursue sooner rather than later.
We will see later this year whether Apple and its iPhone LCD suppliers (generally known to be mainly Japan Display and LG Display (NYSE:LPL)) are able to make sufficient advancements in technology to allow the iPhone 7/7 Plus/Pro to be competitive in terms of display quality and performance.
Nevertheless, the benefits from OLED displays are quite clear. Indeed, after seeing the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge in person, the displays on the iPhone 6s/6s Plus look pale, washed out, and just frankly bad. Apple needs to get high-quality OLED displays integrated into next-generation iPhones as soon as possible.
Not only will moving to such technology help Apple's competitive positioning vis-a-vis Samsung and all of the smartphone vendors that will source OLED panels from Samsung, but the improvement in image quality is so dramatic that it may actually serve as a real catalyst for current iPhone owners to upgrade.
I know that the day Apple includes an OLED display on an iPhone, I will be the first in line to get my hands on such a device. I'm sure I'm not alone in this sentiment.
Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.