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Apple could release a foldable iPhone in 2020

Apple looks set to tap LG for its pOLED tech for a rumored foldable iPhone. (Source: LG)
Apple looks set to tap LG for its pOLED tech for a rumored foldable iPhone. (Source: LG)
Apple and LG are partnering on a foldable iPhone planned for 2020, if a report out of Korea is accurate. With the two companies have partnered on iPhone components in the past, it seems like a plausible response to Samsung's plans to launch a foldable Galaxy Note next year.

We already know that Samsung is planning to bring a foldable Galaxy Note to market in 2018 said to be called the Galaxy X. The device could deliver the dream of a smartphone that has a large display, but can still fit easily into your pocket. It looks like Apple is also very interested in foldable display technology as well and is said to be partnering with LG to make it happen, according to The Korea Herald.

According to sources familiar with the matter, LG Display has recently assembled a special team tasked with developing a foldable OLED panel for an iPhone due in 2020. Another LG subsidiary known as LG Innotek is said to be getting work underway on developing what is known as a rigid flexible printed circuit board (RFPCB) that would be suitable for Apple's requirements. Although LG’s smartphone teams have favored LCD panels in recent years for its flagship devices, it was only the recent launch of the LG V30 that saw LG return to pOLED tech that it has dabbled with in the past.

LG’s pOLED technology uses a plastic substrate in place of a traditional glass substrate. This gives it the necessary flexibility required to create displays that can bend easily. In the case of the V30, its pOLED display wraps around the edges of the device, much like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 models. Samsung is the current supplier of the AMOLED panel in the iPhone X, although that device features rounded display edges, it is does not bend in the same way as the Galaxy S8 or the LG V30.

Apple has been keen to avoid giving Samsung too much of its business where possible in recent years. This dates back to their huge patent dispute coupled with the fact that Apple is wary of relying too much on one supplier -- particularly one that might be very interested in gleaning its design plans for future iPhones. To this extent, Apple may also be close to investing in LG’s pOLED manufacturing plants in order to help the company deliver the yield rates and quality that it requires for its foldable iPhone plans.


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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2017-10-12 (Update: 2017-10-12)