Apple's Curved iPhone Is Coming This Year
Apple is moving forward with the long-rumored curved iPhone display, a new report says.
The tech giant signed off on a curved screen for one of its three smartphone models this year, The Wall Street Journal is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans. The curved screen will spill over the iPhone’s left and right edges, providing more display space for users to tap around the software, according to the report.
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Since the iPhone’s initial release in 2007, Apple has offered a flat screen that relied upon liquid-crystal display technology, which can’t be so easily bent. Meanwhile, some of Apple’s competitors, including Samsung SSNLF , have offered curved screens in their high-end handsets.
One of the problems Apple has faced, according to reports, is available inventory of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels that are easily bent to deliver curved screens. Apple sells hundreds of millions of iPhones every year, and would conceivably need that many OLED screens to deliver the option to consumers. But with yield rates at manufacturing facilities just starting to reach suitable levels, Apple has in the past required too many orders for any supplier to make enough units. That has left Apple with LCD technology and no ability to offer a curved-screen iPhone.
Rumors have swirled that Apple has been planning to tap Samsung Display, a subsidiary of the company’s chief smartphone rival, to supply its OLED panels for a device it would release this year. And now the Journal‘s report suggests that Apple has finally decided that 2017 will be the year it offers a curved screen. But whether Apple will use Samsung Display is unknown.
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Regardless, not all iPhones released this year are expected to offer the feature. According to the Journal‘s sources, one of three iPhones to be released this year will come with the curved display. The other two, likely known as the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7S Plus, will keep their flat, LCD panels. The third model, believed to be known as the iPhone X or iPhone 8, is said to be a major iPhone update, offering a different design than what Apple will offer in the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. It’ll also ship with the curved screen, according to several reports.
But that might not be all Apple has planned for 2017, according to the Journal‘s sources. Apple might also eliminate the iPhone’s proprietary charging and accessory port, called Lightning, for an industry standard called USB-C, the Journal is reporting.
The move would mark a major shift for Apple, which has long used proprietary connectors for the iPhone. The company has been loath to shift to industry standards for any products—let alone the iPhone—and such a decision would also render useless existing accessories, like portable speakers and chargers.
Given that, the claim should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Apple has never been one to turn to industry standards, and as last year’s decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 shows, it often kills off industry standards. Changing course on this year’s iPhone seems unlikely.
An Apple spokeswoman declined Fortune‘s request for comment on the Journal report.