iPhone 5: Thinner Screen with In-Cell Touch

Juro Osawa and Lorraine Luk, The Wall Street Journal:

Japanese liquid-crystal-display makers Sharp Corp. and Japan Display Inc.—a new company that combined three Japanese electronics makers’ display units—as well as South Korea’s LG Display Co. are currently mass producing panels for the next iPhone using so-called in-cell technology, the people said.

The technology integrates touch sensors into the LCD, making it unnecessary to have a separate touch-screen layer. The absence of the layer, usually about half-a-millimeter thick, not only makes the whole screen thinner, but improves the quality of displayed images […]

Getting rid of the extra touch layer on top of the LCD improves the visual experience: The content is clearer and closer to you. The effect should be similar to what you experience with the retina MacBook Pro where the cover glass has been eliminated.

Unfortunately I doubt the next iPhone (5) will sport a cover glass-less design. Unlike the retina MacBook Pro the iPhone is portable and the display is touched, pressed, and banged on, which demand a durable solution. There is the possibility of Corning developing a special version of the Gorilla glass that can be used to manufacture color filters.

The other benefit is interactional: Instead of touching a layer on top of the content, you’re now touching the content itself. The benefits of in-cell touch is clear, but as with any advancement in technology there will be hurdles: Touch circuitry will need to be integrated into the TFT and that may result in a hit on yields, at first.