LCD-you-later: All of Apple’s 2020 iPhones may have OLED screens


Apple’s flagship phones have all adopted OLED screens since the iPhone X – except for the budget iPhone XR, which had an LCD screen to save costs. But the company may finally abandon LCD in favor of OLED displays with its 2020 line of phones, per a Wall Street Journal report. 

This follows last year’s rumor that all of Apple’s phones would be OLED by 2019; it’s unclear if that will end up being the case.

Apple’s iPhone X was its first to sport an OLED display, but for years the company trailed Samsung, Google, LG and OnePlus in releasing phones that had already sported the brighter, higher-resolution screens.

But there might be other reasons for Apple to switch. LCD screens need a standalone backlight while each pixel in an OLED display is individually lit, as 9to5Mac points out. 

This would open up design space for screens that aren’t just the same rectangles we’ve grown accustomed to. Another rumor hinted Apple might use a touch-integrated OLED screen to make its 2019 iPhones thinner, though the company is also thinking about curved phones, per 9to5Mac.

One reason Apple hasn’t abandoned LCD: Samsung

Apple’s slow shift to adopt OLED could be due to supply and demand: Samsung remains the biggest OLED display provider.

Apple expected the budget iPhone XR to be the best-selling model of its last round of phones, but quarterly phone sales were lower than expected – especially in China – which dropped the company’s expected revenues from $93 billion down to $84 billion. The region might hold the key, where phone makers are releasing powerful, cheap devices for far lower prices than Apple.

So, Apple begrudgingly adopting OLED screens could be a necessary modernization it needs to keep up with the competition. 

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.