April 24, 2014

Sony Is Also In Line To Deliver "In-Cell" Technology Based Touch Panels For iPhone 5 [Report]

iphone 5 4 inch screen

Japan’s Sony Mobile Display is also in line with three other touch panel manufacturers to deliver “in-cell” technology based touch panels for upcoming iPhone 5, according to Taipei Times. The newspaper published a report on Taiwanese touch panel manufacturers AU Optronics Corp. and Chimei Innolux Corp. in which it mentioned that both these manufacturers are lagging behind their Japanese and South Korean rivals. According to a Taipei based analyst, AU Optronic and Chimei Innolux are still not capable of producing touch panels based on “in-cell” technology which brings a significant change in thickness of touch panels. On the other hand, Japanese display manufacturers like Sony Mobile Display are ready to deliver this technology.

Japan’s Sony Mobile Display began mass production of in-cell touch panels in February, as the Sony Corp unit gets ready to supply the key component for Apple Inc’s next-generation iPhone 5, IHS Displaybank senior analyst Stone Wu said.

Wu also corroborated Wall Street Journal’s report about possible iPhone 5′s touch panel suppliers. According to Wu, the production of these touch panels for iPhone 5 would start by the end of this month.

Two other Japanese panel suppliers — Sharp Corp and Toshiba Mobile Display — and LG Display Co of South Korea have also been tapping into the iPhone 5 panel supply chain, with the three companies scheduled to start mass production of the smartphone panels before the end of this month, he said.

Recent reports suggest that AU Optronics along with LG Display Co. is already on board with Apple to ship touch panels for rumored iPad Mini. AU Optronics however is way behind when it comes to “in-cell” technology based touch panels. Wu also mentioned that the company won’t start mass production of such displays until 3rd quarter. “The yield on in-cell panels remains a key issue for most suppliers,” he told in an interview with the newspaper.

“Even for those companies that start mass production in May, they can only reach an average yield of 65% to 70% at present,” Wu said. He also mentioned that the yield on touch panels used in iPhone 4S was about 80% to 85%.

Touch panels which are based on in-cell technology are significantly thinner than regular touch panels because the “sensors are embedded inside the color filter rather than on top of them”. Introduction of this technology could hurt Apple’s current touch panel suppliers like TPK but chairman of TPK thinks otherwise. In a recent discussion with investors, TPK’s chairman mentioned that introduction of “in-cell” technology would have a limited impact on TPK.

Reportedly Apple would introduce 4 inch “in-cell” technology based touch panels in next iteration of iPhone along with 4G LTE  support. 6th generation of iPhone is due in September-October time-frame later this year.

We will keep you updated on this, stay tuned!

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