Apple reportedly opens lab to work on improved iPhone displays

Apple is rumoured to have set up a secret laboratory in Taiwan to work on new display technologies.

According to reports from Bloomberg, the firm has opened up a facility in a few miles outside the capital Taipei in Longtan and has 50 engineers already working on projects.

Apple is said to have recruited people from AU Optronics and Qualcomm, the latter company used to own the building.

Among the projects are said to be new screens for upcoming iPads and iPhones that are thinner, lighter, brighter and more energy-efficient. It is speculated that the lab is part of Apple's move away from LCD displays towards OLED technology that might see the light of day in an upcoming iPhone 7 or iPad Air 3. Such a move could take place as early as 2018.

Another benefit for Apple would be less reliance on third party companies for iPhone screen components. Apple relies on companies such as Sharp, LG and Samsung to make displays. If Apple does most of the development work, it can outsource production to other smaller companies more cheaply.

The report said that Apple is already looking to hire more engineers to work at the facility and is placed not too far away from Foxconn, which makes a lot of iOS devices for Apple.

The news comes a couple of weeks after LG announced it was to invest $8.7bn in a new manufacturing facility that will produce OLED display panels.

The plant, called P10, will start construction in Paju, South Korea next year and will make panels, not just for large TVs, but also smartwatches and in-car displays. Displays are expected to roll off the new production lines sometime in 2018.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.