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Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 05:32 pm PT (08:32 pm ET)

LG exec says mass production of in-cell displays has started ahead of rumored iPhone launch

The CEO of panel maker LG on Wednesday said the company has started mass production of thin and light in-cell displays, a technology many expect will be employed in the next-generation iPhone.

"We just began mass production and we don't expect any disruption in supplies," said chief executive of LG Display Han Sang-beom. His comments were under embargo until early Thursday, Korean time, reports Reuters.

While details are scarce, the CEO's comments are in line with rumors saying Apple will debut the next-generation handset at a special event on Sept. 12, a date only three weeks away. Follow-up reports claim the company will be taking pre-orders on launch day which will be fulfilled in the U.S. on Sept. 21.

Analysts have speculated that Apple will be using new in-cell LCD technology in an effort to slim down the rumored device by up to 0.4mm. Among the suppliers capable of mass producing in-cell units is Sharp, LG and Japan Display, Inc., a new company formed in 2012 from the display arms of Toshiba, Sony and Hitachi. A previous report notes Sony and Hitachi began shipping 4-inch LCD panels to Apple in November 2011 to be used in an unknown iOS device scheduled for release this year.

Wednesday's announcement comes just days after photos of a purported next-gen iPhone display assembly surfaced. The unit was unpowered and not much information could be gleaned from the "leaked" part.

Display Assembly

Photos claiming to be of the next-gen iPhone's display assembly. | Source: UBreakiFix.com


AppleInsider discovered Apple itself recently won a U.S. patent for in-cell touchscreen technology. Embodiments of the invention range from basic in-cell display adaptations, which remove a layer of substrate (glass) by integrating the display's touch sensing and LCD elements, to completely new ideas regarding the manufacture of such screens.

In-cell technology is thought to be a good fit for the sixth-generation iPhone as a thinner display would offset the weight gain associated with an increase in screen size. Because the multitouch display is the iPhone's only method of input, it dictates the handset's design, thus an enlarged screen would mean an overall increase in dimensions. It is not known if Apple will employ the recently-patented inventions or rely on those from third-party display manufacturers.