Apple Receives New OLED Display Patent, Rumored to Launch OLED iPhone by 2017

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted Apple a flexible OLED display patent recently, reported MacRumors.

The scope of the patent titled Flexible Electronic Devices includes flexible housings and internal components, including a flexible OLED display, according to Patently Apple.

Descriptions in the patent also covers the usage of flex-sensing components that can cause deformations of the device that could be used as a form of user input. Operation modes of the phone could be changed through bending, or different functions could be assigned to the deformations to game control systems and using flex sensors to turn the device on or off.

Flexible devices are more resilient to damage, due to enhanced shock absorption on impact, and Apple noted the technology could be used in future versions of iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and other wearable devices.

A report from Nikkei’s Chinese website claims Apple might be moving its OLED iPhone launch date ahead to 2017.

The Japanese media was the first to report Apple had reached out to Samsung and LG Display about supplying OLED screens for its next generation iPhones. Other potential suppliers that Apple may have contacted include Japan Display and Sharp. Hence, many market rumors have pointed that Apple might launch an OLED screened phone in the upcoming iPhone 8 to stay ahead of competitors.

Industry expert Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI, though, estimates Apple will not switch to OLED technologies until at least 2019. His viewpoint is supported by LEDinside’s research team and sister research division WitsView that also thinks an OLED iPhone in 2017 as highly unlikely.

With the exception of Samsung, which has succeeded in commercializing OLED panels for smartphone applications, most of the manufacturers mentioned by media so far are still in the process of expanding OLED production capacity, such as LG Display, JOLED and Japan Display. Their new OLED factories are not expected to kick off operations till 2017, making an OLED iPhone in 2017 slightly unrealistic.

But its hard to say whether Apple might adjust its OLED supply source chain to meet the pressing deadline of launching an OLED iPhone in 2017, which requires further observations.

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