The screen is reportedly already being manufactured by component makers in Apple's Asian supply chain ahead of an anticipated fall launch of the new iPhone. Specifically, Sharp, LG and Japan Display Inc. are all said to be assembling the new panels utilizing in-cell technology.
The new screens integrate the touch sensors into the LCD itself, which allows the screen to be thinner by eliminating the need for a separate touchscreen layer. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities first indicated to AppleInsider in April that in-cell touch technology could allow Apple to reduce the thickness of the display by as much as 0.44 millimeters.
A thinner display could allow Apple to make the device thinner, or using the same thickness the company could fit in a slightly larger battery. In-cell technology could also help offset the added weight that would come from a larger 4-inch display that Apple is expected to utilize in its next iPhone.
Claims that Apple plans to use in-cell touch panels for its next-generation iPhone first surfaced from the sometimes-reliable DigiTimes earlier this year. That report also pegged Sharp as a likely supplier of the new screens.
More evidence of Apple's switch to in-cell touch panels came earlier this month, when touch panel supplier Wintek announced its June sales were down an unusually high 33.6 percent month over month. That was interpreted as a sign that the company may have lost out on key orders for Apple's next-generation iPhone.
Analyst Brian White with Topeka Capital Markets noted that over the last seven years, Wintek's June sales increased on average 1 percent month over month. The 33.6 percent drop was the largest month-over-month sales drop seen since late 2006.
Currently, the iPhone and iPad use glass-on-glass touch solutions provided by Wintek and TPK holdings. Wintek, which does not offer in-cell touch technology, is estimated to have previously generated more than 50 percent of its sales from Apple.