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iPhone 5 rumor rollup for the week ending March 16

Thinner touch screen, The Date, misspeaking Verizon, the beer can phone

By , Network World
March 16, 2012 03:07 PM ET
iPhone rumors

Network World - Unseasonably warm weather, as so often happens, triggered rumor precipitation in the iOSsphere.

This week, the thin-screened iPhone, new guesses about The Date, confirming LTE based on something Verizon didn't say, the beauty of ultrasonic bonding, and the beer can phone.

You read it here second.

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"The latest Apple iPhone is expected to come with a back plate made of the same material used in beer cans, and a rubberized bezel or edge." 
    -- Sangeeta Mukherjee, International Business Times, winner of this week's Infelicitous Rumor Phrasing Award.

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iPhone 5 will be thinner due to touch-screen technology

Business Insider has a post that is essentially an excerpt from a Wall Street analyst's "report."

The analyst, Peter Misek, with securities firm Jefferies & Co., says Apple is working with Toshiba on an advanced display technology for the iPhone. According to BI, "The new screen technology is said to be more responsive, and will allow Apple to make a thinner phone."

Misek's actual quote is: "We believe Apple is partnering with Toshiba Mobile Display on inCell [though its "in-cell" in Toshiba documents] technology for potential inclusion in the iPhone 5 or beyond." "We believe" is a lot less definite than "I know."

Toshiba unveiled its in-cell advances in May 2011, at the annual symposium of the Society for Information Display.

We don't pretend to be an expert but Misek seems to summarize the implications accurately: "It would remove the need for touch assemblies, allow them to reduce the thickness of iPhones considerably, and would enable unbelievably smooth and sensitive touch experiences for Apple devices." Or, clearly, for any other device vendor that wanted to adopt the technology.

The actual development is being done by Toshiba America Electronic Components, based in Los Angeles. The in-cell touch technology is enabled by Low Temperature Poly-Silicon (LTPS). Without going into numbing detail, here's a summary of the two main results, by Toshiba Mobile Display:

"[First] In the polycrystalline substance, the electrons can move at a significantly higher speed (about 100 times) than possible in the a-Si (non-crystalline Si) substance, thus the volume of information handled by the silicon on the glass of a LTPS LCD would be increased to a greater extent. In addition, the driver IC chips, which conventionally have been externally connected to the a-Si glass substrate, can be directly mounted onto the glass substrate, thereby allowing downsizing of the TFT section."

Essentially, LTPS can eliminate some of the component layers needed in conventional displays by integrating the drive circuit directly into the glass. The result, according to Toshiba, is very clear crisp images, greater resistance to vibration and impact, reduced components, reduced thickness and weight, more efficient light utilization and resulting lower power consumption.

Toshiba isn't the only display vendor working on this. Arch rivals Sony and Sharp are also, and Synaptics announced on Feb. 29 what it claims are the first volume shipments of an in-cell OEM product, its ClearPad 3250, "a single-chip touch controller for display integrated In-Cell capacitive touchscreens ... [that] eliminates the discrete touch sensor by integrating touch in the display, enabling OEMs to develop thinner smartphones."

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