Apple is reportedly planning to change a key component of every iPhone lineup by 2020, and now one of its major suppliers is scrambling

Tim Cook

AP

  • Apple buys LCD screens for the iPhone XR, iPhone 8, and other models from Japan Display.
  • But Apple is likely to cut out LCD screens from the iPhone lineup as soon as 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • This has forced the Japanese government-owned Japan Display to seek a sale to Chinese and Taiwanese buyers.

Since the first iPhone was launched in 2007, Apple has launched a new phone every year centered around a liquid crystal display, or LCD screen.

In recent years, more expensive iPhone models have used organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays, which are superior in terms of display quality. But for reasons of cost, Apple has continued to release new devices with LCD screens.Advertisement

This year, for example, the iPhone XR uses an LCD screen. But Apple's higher-end iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max use OLED screens.

That looks to be changing starting in 2020, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Apple is planning to drop LCD displays from its lineup entirely, according to the report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with Apple's production plans.
Advertisement

This is stressing Japan Display, Apple's LCD supplier, which is partially owned and mostly funded by the Japanese government. It's considering selling the company to Chinese and Taiwanese investors, including TPK Holdings, which currently makes touch-panel parts for the iPhone, and a China-owned "Silk Road Fund."

Although LCD displays have been commoditized in recent years, Japan Display may have value to a buyer given its close ties to Apple, according to the report. But Apple is unlikely to omit LCD displays from its lineup entirely in 2019. Apple releases new iPhones in September, and the design for this year's models have started to be locked down. Advertisement

Apple is expected to release three new iPhone models this year, based on reports and analyst rumors:

  • An iPhone XR sequel, with an LCD display as well as a double-lens camera on the back, a change from the current single camera. The 2018 version currently starts at $749.
  • An iPhone XS sequel with Apple's higher-quality OLED screen as well as a double-lens camera on the back, like the 2018 model. That device currently starts at $999.
  • An iPhone XS Max sequel - but this one will have a triple-lens camera. The 2018 model costs $1,099 or more right now.

Read more: Apple's big plan to revive iPhone sales in 2019: more cameras

Apple has had a difficult time in the stock market since November. Apple said then it would no longer provide iPhone unit sales to investors and slashed its guidance for its all-important holiday quarter by at least $5 billion, suggesting that iPhone sales had missed Apple's expectations by millions of units.Advertisement

Data also suggests that customers are getting less excited for each new generation of iPhone.

{{}}