iPhone 6: 'quantum dots' to power vivid new screen
Apple files patents for nano-scale quantum dots that would bring enhanced colour to the iPhone 6
APPLE is experimenting with a new screen technology that could bring deeper, sharper colours to the iPhone 6.
Patent filings suggest that the company is planning to use "quantum dots" – tiny crystal semiconductors measuring thousandths of a millimetre across - it its screens. They can be tuned to emit light at highly specific frequencies, meaning that a quantum dot screen can reproduce colour more accurately than existing LED displays.
"There's reason to believe that we'll see quantum dots in Apple displays this year," reports Business Insider, referring to four patent applications submitted by the company earlier this month.
"Together, the techniques Apple describes would let its screens not only show colours more accurately," it says, "but also show a wider gamut of colours."
Apple claims that its Retina-branded iPhone and iPad screens are already so sharp that any further increase in resolution would be undetectable by the human eye.
However, recent comments by Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, suggest the company believes that the quality of the screen must be improved in other ways before the launch of a larger-screened iPhone 6.
"What we've said is that until the technology is ready, we don't want to cross that line [and unveil a bigger screen]," he told the Wall Street Journal. "We want to give our customers what's right in all respects - not just the size but in the resolution, in the clarity, in the contrast, in the reliability.
"There are many different parameters to measure a display and we care about all those, because we know that's the window to the software."
Some sources had suggested that Apple was planning to unveil the new phone as early as May, but most analysts now favour a late summer or autumn release date.
Forbes magazine said yesterday that stockpiles of sapphire crystal, the ultra-tough material expected to protect the iPhone 6's screen, will not reach production levels until "the second half of 2014".
New supplier for A8 processor?
Apple is planning to ditch Samsung, its biggest rival in the premium smartphone market, which until now has supplied the processor inside each new iPhone and iPad.
The AFP news agency reports that the A8 processor, expected to power the iPhone 6 and next-generation iPad, will be made not by Samsung but by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC.
"This is another sign Apple has been shifting more orders away from Samsung," an anonymous analyst told AFP. "But how far Apple may push remains to be seen. It could be up to how much the Samsung-made parts and components could be replaced by those of other suppliers."
Samsung and Apple compete head on for customers and have fought a series of legal battles over alleged patent infringment.
Neither Apple nor TSMC have commented on the report, but TSMC's shares closed up 2.3 per cent on the news.
More iPhone 6 rumours
There's no shortage of speculation about what will be included in the next iPhone, much of which seems to be based on wishful thinking:
A Liquidmetal shell: As Apple strives to make the new handset as slim and strong as possible, some commentators have speculated that it may turn to Liquidmetal, an alloy that's stronger than aluminium. In theory that would mean the handset could be lighter and slimmer without skimping on strength or build quality, but in practice it seems unlikely. Although one of the inventors of Liquidmetal predicted two years ago that Liquidmetal cases would be possible by mid-2014, its use has so far been limited to small components.
Liquidmetal components: This is much more likely. Documents published by Apple-watching website MacRumors, suggest that the alloy could be used in buttons and switches in order to toughen up what have often proved to be weak points on previous iPhones.
A curved screen: At the end of last year Bloomberg carried a report predicting the next iPhone models would have screens that curved down at the edges. Curved screens are said to be more durable, more comfortable to use, and better suited to watching videos and playing games, according to Sky News. This would be a bold move for Apple, which usually likes to stand back and see how other phone-makers fare with new, risky technologies – and last month a source told The Wall Street Journal that Apple has no plans to make use of curved glass.
More about the iPhone 6:
iPhone 6: two new phones for 2014 iPhone 6: Apple paves way for sapphire crystal screen iPhone 6: 4.8-inch display and faster wi-fi part of new design iPhone 6: Super-slim Liquidmetal iPhone 'due in May' iPhone 6: Price fears lead to shares downgrade ·