Anticipation Gels For Sept. 12 New iPhone Announcement; Sept. 21 Release; In-Cell Panel Supply PermittingPosted by CharlesMoore on Thursday Aug 16, 2012 Under iPhone 5 News, iPhone 5 Predictions, iPhone 5 Rumor
More evidence of a late September new iPhone release keeps coming, BGR’s Jonathan S. Geller reports that according to a trusted AT&T source, the company is currently planning to launch the next-generation iPhone during the third or fourth week of September, with second AT&T source affirming that a large training event for regional employees has been rescheduled from the first week of October due to a conflict with a “huge” announcement.
iMore’s Rene Ritchie says that Apple will announce the iPhone 5 on September 12, with pre-orders currently planned to begin that same day in the U.S. at least, with consumer release of the product planned for 9 days later, on September 21, which, as we’ve previously noted here is technically still late summer, with the 2012 Autumnal Equinox happening on Sept. 22, but probably close enough to a Apple’s pledged and reiterated “fall” release for iOS 6. Ritchie also says he’s learned that a second wave of iPhone launches in international markets will begin in the first week of October, likely October 5, the provenance of that information being sources he says have provided iMore with accurate iPhone related launch dates in the past.
In-cell touchscreen technology is also looking more and more like a shoo-in for the iPhone 5. The Register’s Tony Smith reports that Apple has been granted a US patent, number 8243027, detailing in-cell LCD touchscreen technology.
Conventional on-cell touchscreens used in current and earlier-model iPhones consist of a two-layer configuration where the outer contact glass is bonded to the the display unit beneath that incorporates the touchscreen sensors. By integrating the contact surface and touchscreen sensors into a single TFT (thin-film transistor) layer, both physical screen thickness and production costs can be reduced (the latter at least in theory) with a manufacturing step, a glass layer, and the use of expensive optical grade bonding agents eliminated, according to the patent description of a “mobile telephone incorporating an integrated liquid crystal display touch screen,” adding that in other “embodiments, “The electronic device can take the form of a desktop computer, a tablet computer and a notebook computer. The electronic device can also take the form of a handheld computer, a personal digital assistant, a media player, and a mobile telephone.”
In-cell touchscreen displays are also claimed to have superior anti-glare properties, to retain better image color saturation and readability in bright sunlight, to eliminate the inconvenience of frequently-required calibration of conventional touch panel applications, and feature real-time true multiple touch point detection that allows users to easily slide their fingers on the screen for a more satisfying touch panel experience.
Sounds like an improvement all-round, but the snag has been, as Digitimes’ Siu Han and Jessie Shen recently reported that yield rates of in-cell touch panels at Japan Display, LG Display and Sharp, all reportedly panel producers for Apple’s next-generation iPhone, are rumored to be too low to generate profits, with Apple reportedly even having offered subsidies — estimated at US$10-15 per panel produced — to its panel suppliers as an incentive to produce in greater volume and ensure stable shipments after the 2012 iPhone launches. Han and Shen further suggested that the poor yield rate of in-cell panels is “likely to disrupt Apple’s shipping schedule” for the new iPhone.
On the other hand, a Reuters report earlier this month, cited Sharp president Takashi Okuda commenting at the company’s latest financial results announcement, that shipment of screens for the new iPhone will begin this month.
Unfortunately, Sharp has other, worse problems than low in-cell production yields, with Dow Jones Newswires reporting this month that heavy losses and perceived strategy failures have driven the company’s stock prices down to their lowest level since 1974, wiping nearly a third off the company’s value, and that Sharp has announced that it will be cutting some 5000 jobs, or roughly 9 percent of its global workforce, in an effort to reduce fixed costs. Guess they can really use those Apple in-cell subsidies.
Of course, display panel thickness is just one element facilitating an overall device slimming effort, and battery thickness is likely a more significant factor in that context, which would be consistent with recent reports that the new iPhone’s battery capacity will not be increased over that of the iPhone 4S. A matter of what users want more, I guess — a thinner handset profile or longer battery life. Given the objective physics and technology limitations, enhancement of one quality will necessarily compromise the other. Which would you prefer?