updated 09:49 am EDT, Tue April 1, 2014
4.7-inch phones first, 5.5-inch phone 'could be delayed'
Apple's suppliers should start mass production of next-generation iPhone displays in May, in preparation for a launch expected this fall, according to supply chain sources in contact with Reuters. In keeping with earlier rumors, the suppliers are said to include Sharp, LG Display, and Japan Display. The sources claim that 4.7-inch displays should enter production first, while 5.5-inch screens could be delayed. Reuters describes both sizes as belonging to the iPhone 6, but it's unclear if Apple itself will use the same distinction.
The sources add that both form factors should rely on in-cell touch panels, which mesh touch sensors into a screen, allowing for thinner construction. Apple has actually used that technology since the iPhone 5, but suppliers are allegedly having trouble with the 5.5-inch implementation -- hence the delay, and the decision to start producing 4.7-inch displays first. 5.5-inch screens may only start production months later, or even revert back to film sensors.
Japan Display is said to the supplier inaugurating production in May. Sharp and LG will reportedly only follow suit in June. Apple has a limited time in which to get displays ready; the company typically launches new iPhones in September or October, and has to start final assembly a month or more ahead of time to meet demand.