A recent hire by Apple might suggest that Apple is interested in finally following the likes of Samsung and LG and release an iPhone with an Organic LED, or OLED, display.
According to a report by industry site OLED-Info, Apple has hired a new executive into its Display group. Dr. Jeung Jil Lee was previously a research fellow at LG Display, and was an expert of OLED technology, having worked at Cambridge Display Technology previously, the company that pioneered polymer OLEDs.
Why would Apple be interested in OLED displays? They are lighter than the LCDs Apple currently uses, have theoretically better power efficiency than LCDs, they are bendable and have wider angles and improved brightness, and their response times are better than LCDs as well.
But there are also problems with OLEDs. Right now, they are more expensive than LCDs to make, and they have much diminished lifespans compared to LCDs, due to the fact that the blues in OLEDs decay at a much faster rate than other colors. An OLED, in fact, can see its blues degrade to half brightness after only five years. This, in turn, leads to color calibration issues down the road. Finally, while OLEDs have better power efficiency with most images, something as simple as displaying a white background on a document or website can result in using much more battery life than an LCD display. That’s a problem for use in a mobile device.
Apple has many patents for OLED technology, and there have been a lot of rumors as well about their OLED plans, ranging from use as a bendable display in the next iPhone to an OLED iTV. OLED displays might also make a good fit for an upcoming iWatch due to their relative power efficiency and bendability.
However, the truth of the matter is that Apple is particularly invested in IPS LCD displays, which — coupled this year with Sharp’s IGZO technology — should result in displays with the power-efficiency of OLED with none of the color calibration issues. Time will tell if Dr. Lee’s hiring is an early sign of a shift in Apple’s approach to device displays, or just another example of Cupertino shoring itself up with talent.