In a note to investors KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple has plans to introduce a new high-end iPhone model in 2017 that sports a curved glass case and 5.8-inch AMOLED display, a radical departure from current-generation aluminum models.
Kuo said the new iPhone’s design is similar to that of the iPhone 4/4s, but instead of flat slabs Apple will employ curved panels on both the device front and back. In another first, Apple will reportedly turn to AMOLED technology to realize the new design paradigm.
The analyst believes Apple is looking to implement exotic materials to further differentiate iPhone from a sea of competitors. Kuo expects Apple to choose glass for its new case design as the material is easy to mould and boasts properties that facilitate thin-and-light form factor designs.
On the inside, Apple’s next-generation iPhone is expected to include wireless charging and new biometric recognition technology like face and iris scanning, presumably accomplished through a front-facing camera.
It is still unclear where the new unit will rank in Apple’s iPhone lineup, but Kuo predicts two possible scenarios. The analyst believes Apple is likely to position the 5.8-inch AMOLED iPhone model as a replacement for the current 5.5-inch TFT-LCD model, but if the company is unable to obtain the necessary AMOLED supply, the unit could launch as a top-end add-on to the 2017 iPhone line.
For years, Apple has been rumoured to make the switch to AMOLED tech, but display manufacturers are simply not equipped to output supply for a product that sells hundreds of millions of units each year. However, as a result of suppliers efforts to quickly build out their respective AMOLED production lines, there might be enough stock to accommodate the single high-end iPhone variant Kuo describes.
The rumoured iPhone model is expected to keep Apple in the running with competitors who use similarly exotic materials in their flagship smartphones.