Apple Posting Hints at Flexible Displays on Future iPhone

Apple is looking for an expert in flexible display technology to help the company investigate emerging display technology, which would likely make its way into an upcoming iPhone or iPad.

Rumors of Flexible displays are nothing new, and Apple competitor Samsung is already showing off a flexible smartphone prototype, with rumors of a flexible display in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

This position hints at the potential for an Apple device with a flexible display, and given the timing of the posting and analyst expectations for flexible smartphone displays this type of technology would likely arrive in 2014, in an iPhone 6, at the earliest.

This iPhone 6 concept based on an Apple patent shows one example of how a flexible display could work in the iPhone. Concept by MyVoucherCodes.

This iPhone 6 concept based on an Apple patent shows one example of how a flexible display could work in the iPhone. Concept by MyVoucherCodes.

Apple removed the job posting, but 9to5Mac captured a screenshot and the description of who Apple is looking for.

Apple Inc. is looking for a Display Specialist to lead the investigation on emerging display technologies such as high optical efficiency LCD, AMOLED and flexible display to improve overall display optical performance.

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Apple recently patented flexible display technology for a smartwatch, which may point to a design direction for the rumored iWatch project. An iPhone patent shows an iPhone with a wrap-around display that uses two flexible smartphone displays.

This job posting is the first real evidence that Apple is exploring new screen technologies for the company’s mobile devices. The job posting includes a requirement to be experienced with AMOLED technology, the same type Samsung is using in the Youm prototype line and that Samsung showed off at CES 2013.

This Samsung Youm flexible display prototype points to the next battle in screens between Samsung and Apple.

This Samsung Youm flexible display prototype points to the next battle in screens between Samsung and Apple.

Youm uses a plastic screen cover rather than glass, which Samsung claims makes it more resilient to drops and abuse. The flexible glass solutions needed for Flexible displays may still be several years away, with Corning’s Willow Glass reportedly three years from appearing in devices. The iPhone is widely believed to use Gorilla Glass, Corning’s current solution.

Given Apple’s recent push to rid upcoming devices like the rumored iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 of Samsung parts it’s unlikely we will see a Samsung Youm display in one of these. Fortunately Apple and Sharp are rumored to be working together on display technologies.

Sharp demoed a 3.4-inch flexible OLED display at CES 2013, which we show in the video below. This technology is reportedly close to coming to consumers, but Sharp would not comment other than to say it is not just a lab experiment

There are some reports that flexible smartphones will be in pockets this year, and LG plans to ship a flexible display in 2013, but it is unlikely that such technology will be ready in time for the rumored summer iPhone 5S launch. The iPhone 6 offers hope for a flexible display, but again, Apple is slow to add new features so only time will tell. The flexible battery technology needed to bend with a flexible display is in the works.

In addition to offering new design opportunities, a flexible display is typically more resilient when dropped, which could help Apple avoid broken screens on a future iPhone.

  

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