The current iPhone 3G is pretty thin at just 0.48″. It has a 3.5″ TFT LCD that sports a 480 x 320 (landscape) pixel format. And it has multitouch. Quite a bit for such a thin device. But I think the iPhone can get even thinner. And that’s what this post is about. How do you get it even thinner you ask? Well, the area that I’m most qualified to chat about is displays so… TFT LCDs are generally thick because of the backlight unit (BLU). The BLU has gotten thinner and thinner over the years and recently has gotten really thin thanks to the transition from CCFL to LED. But even with a LED BLU the LCD can be a bit thicker than you’d want, especially if you’re trying to design the next iteration of the iconic iPhone. So here’s the rumor: Apple will use OLED display technology for its next iPhone. Not only will the iPhone be thinner thanks to the OLED display, there will be other benefits.
First, if you look at the main screen of the iPhone a good portion of it is black. And that’s a big waste of energy. The BLU on the iPhone’s LCD doesn’t care if it’s black or white it just blasts all of its light. But that’s where OLED can help: with an OLED, where there is black the pixel is turned off. Completely off. So the OLED display isn’t consuming any power where there’s black. So back to the main screen: lots of black. OLED turns the pixel off. Power is saved. iPhone is not only thinner but lasts longer. Cool.
Second, you can get exceptionally great contrast on OLED displays. The LCD on the iPhone is pretty good and probably one of the best you can get on a smarphone. But with an OLED display we’re talking about contrast that’ll be better than your super-duper LCD TV that you just bought (unless it’s a XBR8 or a KURO plasma TV–in that case it’ll look about the same).
I don’t think Apple will change the display size or pixel format. I suppose Apple could squeeze in another 0.2″ or 0.3″ by making the top bezel thinner. The pixel format of 480 x 320 will probably stay the same since cramming a lot of tiny OLEDs onto a display and making it run well can be tricky.
There are three very important reasons why Apple could incorporate an OLED display into its next iPhone coming this June: thinner, more energy efficient, and better image quality. Let me know what you think.