iPhone 4S 1

While we expect the iPhone 5 to be thinner than the iPhone 4S design, a rumor today points to one way Apple could make that possible.

Apple is apparently interested in adopting in-cell touch panels from Sharp and Toshiba, which could shave off some fat from the next iPhone’s waistline, reports the Taiwanese news site Digitimes.

In-cell tech makes touchscreen panels thinner by placing touch sensors within the color filters of the screen. In comparison, existing on-screen technology puts the touch sensors on top of the color filters, taking up precious space in the process.

Citing supply chain sources, Digitimes says that an increase in yield for the in-cell touch panels has sparked Apple’s interest. Additionally, the panel makers are said to be ramping up production of the new technology in the second quarter. Digitimes notes that the move will impact current Apple touch panel makers TPK Holdings and Wintek, though TPK has said it’s developing a thinner new “touch on lens” technology that could compete with in-cell panels.

Digitimes has a rocky history with Apple rumors, but it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Apple adopt this new technology. It’s reminiscent of how the iPhone 4 was the first to adopt a high-resolution 3.5-inch display, and how Apple popularized the use of capacitive touchscreens with the first iPhone.

Adding a bit of legitimacy to the rumor, DisplaySearch analyst David Hsieh told Taiwan Focus that it makes sense for Apple to adopt the in-cell panels from Japanese suppliers. “Of course, Taiwanese panel makers are also developing this technology, but Japanese suppliers still run faster,” Hsieh said at the DisplaySearch Taiwan Flat Panel Display Conference.

Via AppleInsider

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