A new supply chain report pegs touch panel manufacturers General Interface Solution and TPK Holding as OLED touch panel suppliers for Apple, with the pair spending millions of dollars to expand capacity in time for the "iPhone 8."
GIS is putitng $163 million into capital expenditures for the production capacity needed. TPK holding is dropping $152 million. Both companies have historically been Apple touch screen suppliers, with GIS known more for the iPad Pro, and TPK for the iPhone.
The existing iPhone touch screens for LCD displays are glass panel based. The potential shift to OLED screens necessitates a thin-film solution, rather than the older technology.
The thin-film requires a more complex manufacturing process to retain the precision that Apple demands. DigiTimes reports that a glass-based 3D touch sensor costs about $9, while a thin-film solution with 3d touch is closer to $15.
DigiTimes has an unreliable track record in predicting Apple's future product plans. However, the publication does historically provide accurate information such as capital expenditures and the reasons why from Apple's supply chain.
Apple is rumored to debut three new iPhones later this year in September, headlined by a premium "iPhone 8" that could cost more than $1,000. The high-end "iPhone 8" is expected to be loaded with the latest technologies, utilizing a glass back and curved edge-to-edge 5.2-inch OLED display that will conceal components like the earpiece speaker, 3d facial scanning technology, Touch ID and FaceTime camera beneath the screen.
In addition, Apple is also expected to launch successors to the iPhone 7 series in similar designs, sized with the same 4.7- and 5.5-inch screens. Conflicting reports have emerged about the screens in the "iPhone 7s," but the latest rumors suggest that that those handsets will stick with LCD display technology.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, all three 2017 iPhones will feature wireless charging technology.