Digitimes’ Siu Han and Steve Shen say that Apple’s new iPhone, which they expect to be released in the third quarter of 2012, will likely adopt in-cell touch panels sourced from Japanese OEMs Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display (TMD), according to sources in Apple’s supply chain.
Their insider moles report that an improvement in yield rates of the in-cell touch panels at Sharp and TMD has persuaded Apple to cooperate with the two Japan-based panel makers, which will begin to ramp up in-cell panel production in this quarter.
Han and Shen say that in response, Apple’s current touch panel suppliers TPK Holdings and Wintek, will of course be negatively affected, and that in response, TPK has said it is developing TOL (touch on lens) single-glass touch solutions, which will be more suitable for the production of high-end customized devices, and that the market will accommodate more than one technology.
However, Focus Taiwan‘s Jeffrey Wu reports that Taiwanese OEMs have pretty much conceded iPhone 5 screen supply to their Japanese competition due to the latter firm’s technological leads in this field, with the new iPhone unlikely to benefit Taiwanese panel makers according to analyst David Hsieh, vice president of DisplaySearch in charge of the Greater China market.
“Of course, Taiwanese panel makers are also developing this technology, but Japanese suppliers still run faster,” Hsieh reportedly observed to reporters on the sidelines of the DisplaySearch Taiwan Flat Panel Display Conference.
Technical details on just what in-cell touch panels are and what their advantages might be are a bit sketchy, but Wu reports that compared with the older on-cell technology, in-cell touch panels can be made thinner, because the touch sensors are actually placed inside the color filters rather than on top of them.
A report by Redmond Pie’s Paul Paliath says in-cell technology integrates touch functionality into the TFT (thin-film transistor) manufacturing process, eliminating the need for additional glass, which not only reduces manufacturing costs but can facilitate development of a thinner and lighter device altogether.
According to AU Optronics Corp. , which unveiled two kinds of in-cell multi-touch panel technologies back in 2007, they integrate touch function features into the TFT-LCD manufacturing process without adding an additional glass and thus, are able to retain a thickness of 2.2mm with a resolution of 480 x 272 – thinner than conventional touch panel applications. They are also claimed to have superior anti-glare properties to retain proper image color saturation and readability even in bright sunlight, eliminate the inconvenience of frequently-required calibration of conventional touch panel applications, and feature real-time true multiple touch point detection which allows users to easily slide their fingers on the screen to better enjoy the touch panel experience.
By implementing the latest glass thinning technology and shrinking the thickness of related components, AUO demonstrated the thinnest reported 1.9-inch mobile device TFT-LCD at 0.69mm, 13% thinner than the thickness of a credit card. The new LCD screen with a weight of 2.2 grams and 400-nit high brightness accomplishes a multitude of desirable qualities – being light, slim, elegant and sunlight readable.