A group of students at Taitung University in Taiwan were treated to a batch of Apple rumors over the weekend as a speaker who was accepting an honorary degree decided to talk about Apple’s upcoming iPhone.
Sharp President Tai Jeng-Wu talked about future iPhones, saying that new devices will include OLED screen technology, a newer kind of screen with better color quality that can transformed into a curved screen, Nikkei reported.
He even went so far as to imply that Apple is in crisis.
“We don’t know whether Apple’s OLED iPhones will be a hit, but if Apple doesn’t walk down this path and transform itself, there will be no innovation. It is a crisis but it is also an opportunity,” Tai said.
He did not confirm that Sharp — the Japanese screen maker recently purchased by Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, which is Apple’s primary manufacturing partner — would be providing the OLED parts to Apple.
“The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels,” Tai said.
He even suggested that Sharp’s “key customer” could demand that the OLED panels would be made in the United States.
A powerful player
It is worth noting that Tai is not only the top boss at Sharp but also most likely the second most powerful person at Foxconn behind chairman Terry Gou.
Tai Jeng-Wu “is very powerful and is the number two ranked at Hon Hai. He also speaks Japanese. So he was chosen from a comprehensive viewpoint,” Sharp’s outgoing CEO said earlier this year about Tai. He is a close aide of Gou.
While it is unusual for Apple’s suppliers to talk about upcoming Apple products in public, Tai likely knew what he was doing with his prepared remarks, because he was involved with Foxconn during the years that Apple made it wealthy.
He is also not the only Apple supplier to spill the beans on the 2017 iPhone. Earlier this year, Catcher Technology’s CEO confirmed that Apple is working on glass enclosures for its iPhones.
The contract to supply OLED panels for upcoming iPhones is likely a huge, rich contract that requires significant investment. Previous rumors out of Korea suggested Samsung and LG were also in the running for the contract.
Suppliers have been complaining on-and-off for the past six months that Apple is pushing to get better deals on its parts as its overall margins fall.
Nikkei followed up by reporting Foxconn Technology is making wireless charging modules for the new iPhone, citing a source to the news organization.
There aren’t too many details about the actual wireless charging technology that Apple may use, but the report warned that the feature might not make it into the actual device because Foxconn might not be able to make enough.
There are issues with the yield rate of the wireless charging module, Nikkei reports, which means that when Foxconn makes a batch of them, an unacceptably high percentage are not up to standards. This increases the price of a given component.
It is always possible that wireless charging will be included in one model of the new iPhone but not the others, like Apple did with the dual lens camera on the iPhone 7 Plus.
Current rumors suggest that Apple is preparing three models of the iPhone to be launched next year, two with the existing 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes, and a new, mysterious 5-inch version.