updated 01:25 pm EST, Sat November 26, 2011
Apple may get 4-inch device screen early
Talk of four-inch iOS devices gained incidental support through a rumor emerging Saturday. Contradicting talk of LG, Samsung, and Sharp being involved, Macotakara claimed that two of the three companies forming the Japan Display alliance, Hitachi and Sony, were already producing both iPad 3 LCDs and four-inch LCDs for a "new iOS device." The unnamed Asian contact didn't mention what device it was for, or whether this was full-scale production.
The same tipster also asserted that very long-term plans for the 2013 iPad would see the LCD design "fundamentally" changed and that a Taiwan firm was providing LCD technology to help.
With multiple sources pointing to Sharp's involvement in the iPad 3 and LG and Samsung staying, it's more likely that, at best, Hitachi and Sony would be providing supplemental production rather than handling core production. Any full-scale iOS device introductions are also improbable given the launch of the iPhone 4S just in October and a mild iPod touch refresh. If any activity is happening for the smaller screen, it may be test production for engineering prototypes.
Apple is still unofficially expected to be tapping Japanese companies for help more so than it has in the past. The 2048x1536 iPad 3 screen reported in multiple tips would likely face yield issues because of its relative density, and it might benefit from the help of Japanese companies already familiar with making very dense screens. Sharp may play the most role with the 2012 iPhone, since it may be key to designing LTPS-based displays that are more efficient than what's available today.