iPhone 5 Release Date: Touch Panel Shipment Decline Suggests Apple Transitioning to In-Cell Touch Technology?

5 May 2012, 11:14 am EDT By Alexandra Burlacu Mobile & Apps

According to unnamed sources cited by DigiTimes, Apple is now cutting its orders of iPhone touch panels. This is an indication that the Cupertino, California-based company is preparing to make the transition to new technology for its next-generation handset.

Taiwanese publication DigiTimes cited sources saying that Apple's touch-panel suppliers, TPK Holding and Wintek, will see a sequential decline by 15 to 20 percent in shipments of the touch panel components during the second quarter. The publication's sources further added that Apple's current iPhone line is "moving into the final stage," and Apple is making the transition to a new technology called in-cell touch for the next-generation iPhone.

Thinner & Lighter Display

Rumors of in-cell technology for the next-generation iPhone have surfaced well over a month ago. By delivering multi-touch technology into the thin-film transistor LCD manufacturing process, this technology would eliminate the need for more layers of glass and sensors. Consequently, in-cell technology would result in thinner and lighter displays, and offer many other benefits.

One of the greatest benefits of in-cell technology is that it would help reduce the size. In addition, such technology would also simplify certain stages in the manufacturing process, because it requires fewer steps to assemble the panels. According to recent reports, Apple will be using thinner in-cell technology for multi-touch display in its next-generation iPhone, due sometime later this year. The DigiTimes report, however, states that TPK and Wintek will not be the ones providing the in-cell touch panels for Apple.

Rumored Features

In addition to the new in-cell multi-touch display, Apple's next generation iPhone is rumored to launch with 4G LTE support, a larger display (4-inch), as well as a new Dock connector with fewer pins than the current one, which has a 30-pin port.

Recent reports also suggest that the new iPhone, presumably called the iPhone 5, could be partially made of Gorilla Glass 2. Meanwhile, other rumors suggest the device will use Liquidmetal alloy.

Apple has not provided an official launch date, but the next-generation iPhone is expected to launch sometime in the fall. While some expect a June release date, most reports agree an October launch is more likely.

(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Dave Clark)

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