iPhone
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

That is, if it ever happens.

By Don Reisinger
May 16, 2016

Predicting which technologies Apple will include in its next iPhone is a never-ending parlor game. And at least for now, one of the most widely speculated updates won’t be coming for some time, one analyst says.

Apple is developing an iPhone with organic light-emitting diode technology, or OLED, which would open the door to creating a curved display, Lee Choong-hoon, the chief analyst for UBI Research, predicted at a seminar in Korea recently, according to Korea Herald. However, he added that the technology wouldn’t be available until 2018.

Lee said that Samsung, Apple’s chief competitor in smartphones, would manufacture most of the OLEDs the iPhone maker would need for its future smartphones. He added that other companies, including LG Display and Japan Display, could also help out to fulfill the company’s demand.

Apple-tracking site 9to5Mac earlier reported about Lee’s comments.

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His analysis echoes reports last month from Korea that said Samsung Display, a subsidiary of the Samsung conglomerate, had signed with Apple to supply 100 million OLED panels. However, those reports said that the $2.6 billion agreement would deliver OLEDs for the 2017 version of the iPhone.

Lee, in contrast, believes that Apple will need to wait until 2018 to get enough screens to meet the typically massive demand for new iPhones.

The prediction may disappoint some would-be Apple customers who were counting on OLED screens sooner rather than later. Each year, Apple introduces a new handset, but typically staggers its big releases.

For instance, the iPhone 6, which debuted in 2014, was a major release with a different design than the iPhone 5S that preceded it. The device also had important internal upgrades that boosted its processing power. Last year’s iPhone 6s, however, was a relatively minor upgrade with only improvements made inside the device. The company has followed a similar pattern in earlier releases. If history is a guide, 2016 would be a major upgrade year.

However, the iPhone 7 expected to be unveiled this year will look strikingly similar to the already available iPhone 6s, according to a number of reports. Those reports also claim that Apple is unlikely to deliver a major design change until next year, at the earliest.

Including OLED technology would be a meaningful upgrade to the iPhone line, which has featured liquid crystal displays since the device’s premiere in 2007. Meanwhile, competitors, including Samsung, have offered OLEDs, which typically come with improved color quality and the flexible glass that lets Samsung offer its curved Galaxy S7 Edge. At least in the display department, Apple is trailing.

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That said, Lee believes that the future could look much different if and when Apple adds OLEDs to smartphones. He believes that by 2021, Apple will be shipping more OLED-based smartphones than Samsung, according to Korea Herald.

Apple has so far remained silent about its plans this year, let alone its plans for later. However, offering OLED in the iPhone at some point in the future would be a welcome addition for many customers.

Apple AAPL declined to comment about the report.

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