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Apple May Launch Galaxy Note 8-Sized iPhone With 6.4-Inch OLED Display Next Year

While a few weeks remain until Apple is expected to unveil the so-called iPhone 8, widely rumored to be its first smartphone with an OLED display, the rumor mill has already turned its attention to next year. Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 next to iPhone mockup by Benjamin Geskin South Korea's ETNews, citing unnamed industry sources, claims Apple is working with Samsung Display and its other suppliers on the development of next-generation OLED displays in 5.85-inch and 6.46-inch sizes. The report said the displays are expected to be used in new iPhone models released in 2018, although Apple's plans could change. With a nearly 6.5 inch display, the so-called iPhone 9 would have an even larger screen than the 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 8 introduced earlier this month. Meanwhile, the 5.85-inch version would likely be the same size as the iPhone 8. With reduced bezels, the overall physical sizes of the 5.85-inch and 6.46-inch iPhones could be similar to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus respectively. In May, South Korean publication The Bell reported that Apple was planning to launch new iPhones with 5.28-inch and 6.46-inch OLED displays next year, but ETNews claims development of the 5.28-inch size has been abandoned. "This is because consumers have preferred to use a large screen, and technologies such as full-screen or bezel-less have been developed that can enlarge the display while keeping the overall size of the smartphone small," it said. The bottom line here is a second source lending support to rumors of a 6.4-inch iPhone launching next year. It might seem early

Samsung Starts Manufacturing Apple's A9 Chip for 2015 iOS Devices

Manufacturing of Apple's A9 processor is reportedly underway in Samsung's Austin, Texas plant, according to Korea's ET News (via The Verge). Samsung is believed to be handling the bulk of the orders for the A9 using its 14-nanometer chip process, with rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) contributing a supplementary supply. Samsung and TSMC have been competing for Apple's lucrative A9 processor contract after Apple in 2013 signed a multi-year deal with Taiwan's TSMC to supply A-series processors for Apple's iOS devices. TSMC took lead on the A8 chip, fabricating the SoC for both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The Taiwanese company also reportedly landed the contract to produce Apple's A8X chip, which is found in the new iPad Air 2. Samsung semiconductor head Kim Ki-nam last month confirmed the company would begin producing 14-nanometer processors for Apple in a supply chain deal that will have a positive impact on Samsung's profits. A report from last year suggestsed TSMC would replace Samsung as Apple's lead chip supplier, but Samsung's technological progress with its 14-nanometer process may have swung the pendulum back in its favor.

Low Retina iPad Mini Production Reportedly Due to Burn-In Issue on Sharp's Display Panels

Last week, a report from Japanese business newspaper Nikkei shed light on the production issues surrounding the forthcoming Retina iPad mini, stating that Apple is now turning to rival Samsung as suppliers Sharp and LG Display have failed to produce an ample supply of displays for the new tablet. Now, a report from Korean website ETNews (via Unwired View) has elaborated on the matter, with Sharp's IGZO panels for the Retina iPad mini said to be suffering from screen burn-in issues. While the burn-in issue is reportedly invisible to users, the panels do not meet Apple's specifications and thus the high rejection rate has resulted in low panel yields for the tablet. As noted in a report earlier this week analyzing the new iPad Air's use of IGZO technology, Sharp has experienced difficulties ramping up production of its IGZO panels in the past, with it taking until now for Apple to bring the technology to its products. The burn-in problem was caused by the drastic reduction of the pixel size. The resolution of the 7.9-inch iPad mini with Retina display is 2048×1536, about four times clearer than the existing 1024×768 products. LG Display used the amorphous silicon (a-Si) for the substrate, whereas Sharp used IGZO. The pixel of the smartphone display is smaller than that of the iPad mini Retina panel, but as the Low Temperature Polycrystalline Silicon (LTPS) technology is used, it can be produced stably. The pixel of the iPad mini Retina is the smallest among those products using a-Si. Sharp failed to solve the chronic problem of IGZO, i.e. uniformity, and its yield

Apple to Discontinue iPhone 5 Alongside Launch of 5S and Plastic Models?

Korean site ETNews.com is reporting [Google translation] that Apple will be discontinuing production of the iPhone 5 in the fall, instead putting all of its efforts towards the iPhone 5S and the rumored entry-level plastic iPhone. Apple has been presumed to be discontinuing the iPhone 4 and 4S in order to make way for an all-Lightning iPhone lineup, allowing Apple to standardize around its latest connection standard and phase out the older 30-pin connector standard with the possible exception of the iPod classic, which has not been updated in a number of years. The fate of the current iPhone 5 has, however, not been the subject of much discussion as it has remained unclear whether the new lineup of iPhone 5S and plastic iPhone would leave room for Apple to continue offering an iPhone 5 model. Today's report claims that the in-cell technology used on the iPhone 5’s touchscreen is "not suitable for low-volume production", contributing to Apple's decision to stop production on the phone and focus all of its efforts toward producing parts for newer products. The iPhone 5 and 5S are, however, expected to share nearly identical display technology although leaked photos have a shown a change to the orientation of the flex cable connectors on the display assemblies. The iPhone 5S is reportedly scheduled to begin production later this month, with both that device and the lower cost iPhone rumored for launch in the September-October timeframe. (Thanks, Byungjin!)

Apple to Dump AU Optronics as Display Supplier for Next-Generation iPad Mini?

ETNews.com reports that Apple is discontinuing its relationship with AU Optronics to supply display panels for the iPad mini as production on displays for the second-generation models is expected to ramp up in the coming months. According to the report, LG Display is already onboard and Sharp is in solid position given its technological advantage in energy efficiency, while other display manufacturers such as Samsung are competing to replace AU Optronics' production share.LG Display already secured order from Apple. Sharp seems to have no problem in getting approval from Apple as a supplier for iPad mini 2 despite some product quality problems, because it is the only supplier of oxide semiconductor LCD. Oxide semiconductor LCD has an advantage of saving electricity. Apple plans to apply oxide semiconductor LCD to iPad mini 2 despite the initial low production yield, because it gives the advantage of saving electricity.AU Optronics won a share of display production for the original iPad mini, but struggled with production issues and reportedly did not catch up on production until months after the device's launch, contributing to tight supplies. According to today's report, AU Optronics has been unable to meet technical and timing milestones for the next-generation iPad mini, and Apple's improving relationship with Samsung's display arm may be giving Apple more flexibility in managing its suppliers. Apple's plans for its next-generation iPad mini have been the subject of numerous conflicting rumors, with some suggesting that a Retina iPad mini will launch later this

Sketchy Rumor Claims Apple Launching 12.9-Inch 'iPad Maxi' in Early 2014 to Target Ultrabooks

Korean site ETNews.com reports [Google translation, via Unwired View] that Apple is working on a new, larger iPad with a display measuring 12.9 inches diagonally, compared to the 9.7-inch display on the current full-size iPad. The larger iPad, which the site apparently in all seriousness says would be called "iPad Maxi", would launch in the first half of 2014 and be intended to target the ultrabook market as well as increase utility for digital textbooks. While some users have expressed a desire for a larger iPad, consumer preference certainly appears to be trending toward smaller screens and more portability rather than larger screens. While the original iPad has experienced significant success, several analysts have estimated that the iPad mini immediately began outselling its larger sibling upon launch late last year. ETNews.com does not have a particularly solid track record regarding Apple rumors, and is not a frequent rumor source either. Previous incorrect reports have included claims that the iPhone that was ultimately dubbed iPhone 4S would launch in late June 2011 and that the iPhone 5 would take advantage of Liquidmetal alloys and launch in June 2012. More recently, the site claimed that fingerprint sensor firm AuthenTec had cut off its existing customer base after being acquired by Apple, a development that seems likely amid rumors of Apple deploying fingerprint technology on the iPhone

AuthenTec Said to Cut Off Non-Apple Fingerprint Sensor Customers in 2013

According to Korea's etnews.com [Google translation], fingerprint sensor firm AuthenTec has notified a number of its customers, including Samsung, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Fujitsu, that it will cease offering its technology to those companies as of next year. Apple agreed to acquire AuthenTec in July, and AuthenTec's board is expected to approve the acquisition next month. AuthenTec's current customers are said to be "in a state of panic" as they seek to secure alternative suppliers for the fingerprint recognition technology that has been seeing increasing adoption. But with AuthenTec holding a significant amount of intellectual property rights in the field, those companies may have difficulty finding adequate alternatives. Apple has not signaled its exact area of interest for AuthenTec's technology, but many observers have speculated that Apple is interested in incorporating it into its mobile devices for user recognition and other purposes. The security of fingerprint scanning may also play into longer-term efforts at Apple for developing mobile payment solutions, although the company is said to be deliberately holding back on a public implementation as it explores the competitive landscape and potential. Rumors had suggested that Apple was looking at including near field communications (NFC) in the iPhone 5 in order to facilitate mobile payments integrated with the new Passbook app in iOS 6, but Apple elected not to pursue that technology with this round of iPhone hardware

Liquidmetal-Based iPhone 5 to Launch at WWDC in June?

Korean site ETNews.com claims that Apple is planning to use new "liquid metal" alloys in the iPhone 5 to yield a thinner and lighter device that is resistant to impact damage. Apple acquired the rights to Liquidmetal Technologies' "amorphous metal alloys" in August 2010 and soon after was spotted hiring engineers to work on the materials, but little concrete news on Liquidmetal's contributions to Apple has appeared since that time.According to industry sources, the next flagship phones of [Apple and Samsung] are expected to adopt unprecedented materials for their main bodies, that is, ceramic for the Galaxy S3 and liquid metal for iPhone5, both being thin, light and highly resistant to external impacts. The new phase of the rivalry is because neither one of them can get a decisive edge over the other solely with its OS and AP specifications, features or design.The report also claims that the iPhone 5 will debut in June at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), returning to the mid-year launch schedule seen up until last year's launch of the iPhone 4S in October. Most observers expect, however, that the iPhone 5 will not launch until the later September-October timeframe this year as well. ETNews does not have a lengthy track record regarding Apple rumors, although the site did incorrectly claim last year that the iPhone would launch in late June with a special event several weeks after WWDC. The site appears to have been more accurate with its January claim that Sharp had been cut out of the supply chain for the display in the new iPad. Sharp did experience

Sharp Out as iPad 3 Display Supplier?

Even as some sources are claiming that iPad 3 production is underway with Sharp providing the displays for the device, Korea's Electronic Times reports (via Patently Apple) that Sharp has failed to meet Apple's requirements and is out as a display supplier. According to the report, Samsung and LG will be providing the displays for the iPad 3.An industry source said on January 9, “LCD manufacturers started mass production and supply of LCD panels for the iPad3 late last year. Samsung Electronics’ LCD business unit was the first to start mass production, and LG Display has participated in mass production with full capacity, beginning this year.” [...] Sharp has competed with Samsung Electronics and LG Display over the development of display panels for the iPad3, but reportedly failed to pass Apple’s approval process for mass production.Apple is said to be requiring at least 65 million iPad 3 display panels for 2012, with an initial batch of 5 million being produced for launch. A decision by Apple not to go with Sharp for the iPad 3 display could have consequences for the device's design, as the two companies have been reported by several sources to be working together on Sharp's indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) technology to achieve thinner, lower power displays. If Apple does utilize more traditional low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) displays from Toshiba and LG, that decision could require a dual light bar system to support the higher resolution of the iPad 3, thus necessitating the slightly thicker profile that has been rumored for the

iPhone 5 to Launch at End of June?

According to Korean site ETNews.co.kr, Apple is planning on releasing the iPhone 5 during the 4th week of June. Multiple reports have already revealed that Apple will not be introducing the iPhone 5 during the Worldwide Developer's Conference scheduled for June 6th. Instead, WWDC is said to be focusing on software only. ETNews, however, claims that the news of a late June iPhone 5 release comes with confirmation that Korean providers SK Telecom and KT will be amongst the first carriers to offer the new iPhone iPhone 5, the next model of iPhone 4, will be released on the coming 4th week of June. In the midst of the iPhone 5 postponement rumors, Apple has confirmed that iPhone 5 will be released as planned and it will be released simultaneously in Korea through SK Telecom and KT. Instead of a WWDC launch, Apple is expected to hold a special media event featuring Steve Jobs himself. The sourcing of the article is a little suspect, as it appears to be attributing the information to Apple, itself. It also contradicts the "fall" timeframe that has been previously proposed for the next iPhone release. Mobile carriers, however, have been a source of some early release information, as new phones launches must be coordinated. In 2008, Telecom Italia's executive VP of technology revealed the timeframe of the 3G iPhone. Finally worth noting is that the story was also posted to etnews.co.uk on April 1st, though there is no indication that it was meant as an April Fools joke. We've contacted the author but have not yet received a