The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is working on at least ten different iPhone 8 prototypes, one of which features a curved OLED display. This move would finally bring Apple in line with display technology that Android flagships adopted years ago. Samsung has been a leader in OLED displays, first incorporating the technology into its Galaxy S smartphone in 2010. Today’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge flagships both feature a 1440p QHD Super AMOLED display.
As for curved displays, Android phones have also embraced this design trend, with most enthusiasts being introduced to the tech with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge in 2014. OLED panels are traditionally thinner than their LCD counterparts, which allows for more daring curved displays like the Galaxy S7 Edge and now defunct Galaxy Note 7.
Apple’s current LCD suppliers include LG, Japan Display, and Sharp — each has reportedly been tasked by Apple to invest in OLED production for future iPhones. At least one, Sharp, has said in recent months that it would indeed be producing OLED panels for a next generation iPhone.
"The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels,” said Sharp CEO Tai Jeng-wu in late October. Interestingly, he continued, criticizing Apple, stating, "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.”
Whoever Apple chooses to supply displays for an OLED-equipped iPhone, none will likely have the capacity or expertise as industry heavyweight Samsung. It’s estimated that LCD-based smartphone displays generated $20.8 billion in revenue during 2015 compared to $10.6 billion for OLED displays. However, OLED revenue is expected to jump to at least $18.6 billion by 2018.
It should be noted that while the iPhone has to this date shunned OLED technology, Apple does use the technology in other products. Both generations of the Apple Watch feature OLED displays and the new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros are available with OLED Touch Bars.