Apple Investigating Thinner, Lower Power IGZO Displays Across iPad and iPhone Product Lines for 2013

ipad 3 hand1According to a new DigiTimes report, Apple is evaluating the feasibility of using IGZO displays across their iPad, iPad mini and iPhone products in 2013.

The sources said Apple is in further discussions with Sharp over IGZO panel production capacity estimates for 2013 and is also inquiring about whether AU Optronics' (AUO) L5C line could be used to produce the technology.

We've heard rumors about Sharp's IGZO displays over the past year, but no Apple products yet seem to use the new technology. There had been talk of production delays that may have prevented Apple from pursuing the technology.

Qualcomm recently invested in Sharp to push forward the technology. Sharp is reportedly betting on IGZO to save the company, which is in dire financial straits.

IGZO has been touted as having many benefits over existing technology. PCWorld notes lower power consumption, improved touch sensitivity and increased pixel density among these benefits.

This difference in current flow inside the screen also means that transistors don't have to be continually refreshed when a still image is on the screen. That leads to lower power consumption and, for touch panels, much less interference from the screen's electronics so the touch panel becomes more accurate and sensitive, said Nobuhiro Okan, a manager with Sharp's display device group.

The glass edge of each display can also be made slimmer, allowing for smaller devices.

Obviously, those improvements would be highly desired for Apple to advance their products. The iPad, in particular, actually found itself both thicker and heavier in the 3rd Generation model in order to accommodate the battery for the power-hungry Retina display. Display power consumption and thickness were also likely factors that prevented the iPad mini from adopting a Retina display in its first generation. Rumors have already suggested that the 2013 5th Generation iPad could be slightly thinner and smaller than the current models.

Related Roundups: iPad mini, iPad
Related Forums: iPhone, iPad

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Top Rated Comments

pgiguere1 Avatar
151 months ago
Samsung is not switching to LCD. They always had superior LCD panels but for their high end phones they use OLED. They do use LCD for cheap phones - always did. They also release some cheaper versions of high end phones for poor countries with LCD. Nexus 10 uses LCD because OLED panel with such high resolution would be prohibitively expensive. The biggest OLED screen Samsung produces in volume is a 7.7 screen in Galaxy Tab. Not all OLED panels use pentile matrix and the issue is becoming irrelevant anyway when pixel density reaches 300 ppi. Apple calls it "retina" because you can't see pixels and when you can't see pixels, you obviously can't see subpixels. And BTW Samsung will soon switch to IGZO for OLED.
LCDs used in cheap Samsung phones have nothing to do with high-quality LCDs like the one in the iPhone 5 and other new flagship phones. That changes nothing about them being superior to OLED screens like the ones in the GS3/Note 2 overall.

By the way, the 300 PPI thing only applies to displays with a RGB matrix since the distance separating each subpixel from another of its color is the same as the distance between each pixel. Therefore, the number of subpixel of a same color per inch is the same as the PPI for a RGB matrix. That isn't true for a PenTile matrix, which has an inflated PPI number compared to what your eyes will actually perceive: the subpixels.

It's impossible to set apart two points when their distance from each other and from the viewer's eyes surpass the human eye's visual acuity, measured in arcminute. In this case, the two points would be sub pixels, not pixels, since pixels aren't actual sources of light, they're just an arbitrary group of subpixels that depend on the matrix you choose.

For example, those two displays have the same PPI but different matrixes (RGB on the left, PenTile on the right):



Notice that they have the same green subpixel density but the one on the left has a higher density of red and blue subpixels. The optimal linear density of red and blue subpixels in the PenTile matrix would be around 1/sqrt(2) times lower.

So let's assume those two displays have 300 PPI.

The one with the RGB matrix would have:
300 red subpixels per inch
300 green subpixels per inch
300 blue subpixels per inch

The one with the PenTile matrix would have:
212 red subpixels per inch (in diagonal)
300 green subpixels per inch
212 blue subpixels per inch (in diagonal)

So assuming we were displaying an image with an equal amount of red, green and blue, the RGB matrix would have an average perceived density of 300 PPI while the PenTile display would be around 241 PPI.

The significant difference between the two can of course be perceived by any human with normal visual acuity (20/20 vision).
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mrsir2009 Avatar
151 months ago
What's the bet that Apple would use this technology to make the iphone thinner and lighter overall, rather than improving the battery life?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dampfnudel Avatar
151 months ago
"Investigating" is a little late to start releasing by March

Well, for all we know, they could be well past "investigating".;)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lcmazza Avatar
151 months ago
Err, it's more like the other way around.

IPS is superior to OLED and it's only recently that Android hardware is starting to switch from OLED to IPS. See the Nexus 4 compared to older Nexuses, HTC One X/DNA, the Nexus tablets and the Lumia 920 / HTC One 8 on the WP8 side.

The only major company still putting OLED in their flagships is Samsung (Galaxy SIII, Note 2, Galaxy Nexus) and those are the ones with displays that feel outdated now when you compare them to the competition. Reviews put down their (relatively) bad display and use of PenTile subpixel matrix and hopefully Samsung will switch to IPS like all others for the GS4.

Apple switching to OLED would be a huge step backwards considering that the iPhone 4 from 2.5 years ago still beat most OLED displays on so many levels.

I really don't get all this nonsense about OLED being better than IPS... I have a Galaxy Note 2 (non-pentile) and the screen IS GORGEOUS. The blacks are like the screen is turned of! My iPad 4 has a little washed-out blacks and I don't understand why all these technical specifications are so important to people like you, because what really matters is what you SEE and perceive. And OLED looks much better than IPS.

Also, I don't don't see Galaxy Note 2 users, for instance, asking Samsung for better battery life, or this or that... But when I come here, all I see is "Apple, please do this... Apple, please, do that"... Asking for things we already have in the Android side for years!
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tdream Avatar
151 months ago
Err, it's more like the other way around.

IPS is superior to OLED and it's only recently that Android hardware is starting to switch from OLED to IPS. See the Nexus 4 compared to older Nexuses, HTC One X/DNA, the Nexus tablets and the Lumia 920 / HTC One 8 on the WP8 side.

The only major company still putting OLED in their flagships is Samsung (Galaxy SIII, Note 2, Galaxy Nexus) and those are the ones with displays that feel outdated now when you compare them to the competition. Reviews put down their (relatively) bad display and use of PenTile subpixel matrix and hopefully Samsung will switch to IPS like all others for the GS4.

Apple switching to OLED would be a huge step backwards considering that the iPhone 4 from 2.5 years ago still beat most OLED displays on so many levels.
IPS will never be superior to OLED because the black level cannot be reached due to the inherent backlight feature of IPS technology. OLED can fully switch off that pixel with no interference from backlight or surrounding pixels. How many times have you hear of backlight bleeding with IPS displays...? All the time because that's how they're designed.

OLED is the future, the only reason IPS is more prevalent now is because it costs less to produce. High resolution OLED displays still cost far too much to be succesful commercial but production costs are coming down all the time.

The Galaxy Note 2 has a 720p 5.5 in AMOLED panel that does not have a pentile configuration and produces stunning quality video and superb picture clarity. Much better than the GS3.

The AMOLED screen can be intensely bright I only ever use 30% indoors and can reach zero black level to provide huge contrast levels. I see the difference between the iPad 3 and GN2 easily. iPad 3 wins in sheer resolution.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pgiguere1 Avatar
151 months ago
So, lately Android devices get the best hardware much sooner than Apple devices. Apple has not been able to switch to OLED for many years now. And now they can't even get LCD IZGO. That's a major disadvantage of Apple strategy - having only one device model automatically means that this is a mid-range model. New tech supplies are always limited.

Err, it's more like the other way around.

IPS is superior to OLED and it's only recently that Android hardware is starting to switch from OLED to IPS. See the Nexus 4 compared to older Nexuses, HTC One X/DNA, the Nexus tablets and the Lumia 920 / HTC One 8 on the WP8 side.

The only major company still putting OLED in their flagships is Samsung (Galaxy SIII, Note 2, Galaxy Nexus) and those are the ones with displays that feel outdated now when you compare them to the competition. Reviews put down their (relatively) bad display and use of PenTile subpixel matrix and hopefully Samsung will switch to IPS like all others for the GS4.

Apple switching to OLED would be a huge step backwards considering that the iPhone 4 from 2.5 years ago still beat most OLED displays on so many levels.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)