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iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending April 12

John Cox | April 15, 2013
Searching for 6, tune that name, divination and job postings, pink rantings

The original's general description is: "Apple Inc. is looking for a Display Specialist to lead the investigation on emerging display technologies such as high optical efficiency LCD, AMOLED and flexible display to improve overall display optical performance."

Briden, 9to5Mac's Jordan Kahn, and almost everyone else who posted about this focused on the words "flexible display," the idea being that ... flexible displays are the Next Big Thing. Kahn mentions the speculation: "Flexible display rumors have picked up steam even more since rumors of an iWatch from Apple, and just today we came across two new Apple patent applications detailing flexible devices that could change states as a user bends or twists the device."

Twistable iPhones. Not to mention the mythical iWatch. The excitement of it all makes us a bit twistable, too.

"Today's job listing is definitely the first bit of solid proof directly from Apple that it is looking into developing devices with flexible displays," Kahn concludes.

Not exactly.

Flexible displays may be the Next Big Thing for the display industry as a whole in a few years, but probably not for smartphones. That's because there's a limit to the useable additional surface area that a curved display can create in something the size of a smartphone. If you're holding it in one hand, and manipulating the screen with that hand's thumb, having the screen curve around the sides or around the back isn't going to do much for you, because you won't be able to reach it or see it.

Neither Kahn or Briden, or many of the other bloggers, refer to the other technologies and requirements mentioned in the Apple job posting. The most significant one is the mention of OLED (and AMOLED), or organic light-emitting diodes( and active-matrix OLED). Flexible displays are made possible by OLED, which uses an organic "emissive electroluminescent layer" or film between two electrodes.

Apple currently relies on LCD technology, or liquid crystal displays: a layer of liquid crystal sandwiched between sheets of glass and other stuff. And Apple is really good at LCD screens. AnandTech's Chris Heinonen, after a highly detailed analysis if the iPhone 5 display performance concludes: "Wrapping up, the iPhone 5 display is a quantum leap better than the display on the iPhone 4. Contrast levels and light output have both been increased, and color performance is astonishing. The full sRGB gamut is present here, and color errors are remarkably low even for a high end desktop display. While many were hoping for a move to OLED or some other screen innovation, this really is a huge step up that is very easy to quantify."

That move to OLED undoubtedly is coming, because the technology offers a number of advantages over LCD: lower power demand, faster refresh, better contrast, greater brightness, wider viewing angles, high durability, and light weight. (For more details and background on OLED, check out OLED-Info.com.) And in February, it was widely noted that Apple had hired Dr. Jeung Jil Lee, reportedly an OLED research fellow at LG Display, one of Apple's display panel suppliers.

 

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