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The only phone currently in Apple’s lineup that sports OLED technology is the iPhone X. Both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus come equipped with LCD screens. One of the major hurdles to a more widespread implementation of OLED technology is the cost. Phones with these panels tend to be more expensive, and as evidenced by the hefty price tag on the iPhone X ($999) and its sagging sales numbers, consumers aren’t necessarily enamored with the value proposition of having to pay much higher prices for smartphones, even if they do come with better display features.
The other issue comes on the supply-chain side of the equation. Right now, Apple gets its OLED screens from Samsung. If the company chooses to start rolling out these screens in all of its models, however, it’s likely going to have to pull in other companies like LG- the other main supplier of OLED screens in the market- in order to keep up with production demands.
In addition to supply difficulties, the fact that prices for OLED screens don’t look to be going down anytime soon could also hamper a quick change to the technology by next year. Several analysts have indicated that it would be difficult for Apple to offer affordable versions of the phone to consumers while screen prices are so high, putting a damper on the report that the company could roll them out by 2019.
In addition to providing sharper and more vibrant images than LCD screens, OLED panels have also been touted heavily for their energy efficiency, as they use less power than their predecessors.
It’s not all roses and rainbows, however. Major phone models that use OLED technology, such as the Google Pixel, have suffered from burn-in (images remain on the screen after the phone is powered off) and inaccurate color representation. So even with its high cost and potential to save energy, OLED technology is still suffering from some growing pains in the smartphone market.
And then there’s the rumors swirling that Apple is working on developing its own display technology, known as MicroLED. Would a short-term switch to OLED make sense if the long terms plans are to go with an in-house technology? It’s hard to say.
The supply-side economics for OLED are likely to improve over then next 18 months, which would make it easier for the company to include these panels in their smartphones- but will it be enough to impact the 2019 lineup?