There are plenty of rumors circulating about a super-thin screen for the new iPhone which could boost battery life. Now, an Apple patent has appeared which describes exactly the kind of screen technology the rumors have been speculating about.
Apple Insider points out a new Apple patent which describes different ways in which the top, glass layer of a touchscreen can be removed by combining the liquid crystal and touch sensing elements into a single structure—commonly referred to as in-cell technology. From the patent filing:
By integrating the layered structure of an LCD and a touch sensor, a variety of benefits can be achieved. This integration can include combining or interleaving the layered structures described above. Integration can further include eliminating redundant structures and/or finding dual purposes (e.g., one purpose for the touch function and another for the display function) for particular layers or structures. This can permit some layers to be eliminated, which can reduce cost and thickness of the touch screen LCD, as well as simplify manufacturing.
In particular, one section describes how in-cell technology can be used in conjunction with in-plane-switching (IPS) panels—the technology used by the current iPhone 4S's Retina display.
In contrast, because the IPS embodiments discussed... can use the same electrodes used for display control and touch sensing, higher touch resolution can be obtained with little to no additional cost. Alternatively, a number of touch pixels can be grouped to produce a combined touch signal with a lower resolution.
We've already pointed out that the new iPhone may well use Sharp's own in-cell IGZO display technology. Already available, the IGZO screens are thinner, because they use smaller transistors, allowing more light to pass through. In turn that means they use fewer LEDs, and therefore take up less space and consume less power.
Of course, whether or not the new iPhone will use an in-cell screen—let alone the technologies discussed in this patent—is up for debate. But the fact that the patent discusses combining in-cell technology with the displays currently used in the iPhone 4S prompts pause for thought. Either way, we don't have too long to wait now before we find out. [Apple Insider]