“The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels,” Tai told students at Tatung University, his alma mater, during a ceremony in which he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree. “We don’t know whether Apple’s OLED iPhones will be a hit, but if Apple doesn’t walk down this path and transform itself, there will be no innovation. It is a crisis but it is also an opportunity,”
After the Foxconn purchase of Sharp was finalized in August, Tai, a close associate of Chairman Terry Gou, was appointed CEO of Sharp. Foxconn, known as Hon Hai, is of course Apple’s principal manufacturer of iPhones.
Apple’s next iPhone, called ‘iPhone 8’ by many because of its rumored sweeping changes, is also expected to do away with the physical touch button and place touchID behind the display among many other innovations. Bloomberg previously reported that Sharp OLED iPhones would have to wait until 2018.
OLED displays offer sharper color contrast compared to LTPS screens that iPhones have traditionally used. Apple’s competitors including Samsung, LG, Motorola and others have been using OLED for quite some time and Apple and its proxies have often labelled OLED technology as “oversaturated”. Apple began using OLED displays on Apple Watch last year.
Perhaps most interesting about the report is that the displays could be made, at least in part in the US. Sharp only does very limited OLED production currently.
“We are now building a new [OLED] facility in Japan. We can make [OLED panels] in the U.S. too,” he said. “If our key customer demands us to manufacture in the U.S., is it possible for us not to do so?”
Previously it had been reported that Samsung would make the curved OLED display for Apple’s iPhone 8 but as we know, Apple likes to have multiple suppliers for key components, especially when one of those suppliers is Samsung.