The iPhone 14 Pro/Max to be Apple's first OLED iPhones without a notch

The iPhone 14 Pro Max to bring Apple's largest display area so far via a punch hole
While Samsung will be improving on the Galaxy S22 series design by making the phones stubbier, with better screen-to-body ratio and uniform bezels all around, Apple is preparing for a drastic iPhone 14 redesign. We say drastic, as the introduction of a punch-hole display will completely overhaul the notch-y look of the iPhone that we have become accustomed to since the iPhone X hit the carrier shelves way back in 2017. 

Since then, people got used to the display cutout abomination that houses Apple's signature Face ID components to the extent that the notch has become a unique design differentiator for Apple. The notch has undergone only one overhaul for the past four years, that on the iPhone 13 where it is about a fifth narrower than before, but slightly taller. This miniaturization effect brought an extra percentage on top of the unimpressive screen-to-body ratio that iPhones boast, but next year Apple will add much more usable display canvas that its fans can enjoy.

The iPhone 14 Pro will finally ditch the notch 

A Korean tech industry publication with a very good track record regarding local display suppliers, The Elec, has learned that Samsung is already receiving machines from Philoptics and Wonik IPS that will be used for laser-cutting holes in the iPhone 14 series OLED displays. 

Apparently, Apple has already decided firmly that it will do away with the notch on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models, as Samsung Display has demonstrated its proficiency in hole punching, perfected ever since the Galaxy S10 series. Given that the 6.7" 14 Pro Max may land with a selfie camera hole in the display instead of a notch, it could end up being the iPhone with the best screen-to-body ratio Apple has ever designed. Granted, the iPhone 14 Pro will also have a punch-hole display, but the hole itself is usually of the same circumference, leaving much more usable area around it on a larger display.

The iPhone 14 Pro series will use Samsung's HIAA (Hole-in-Active-Area) method, tip the industry insiders, which is the most advanced OLED hole-punching technology so far. HIAA employs laser drilling between the OLED deposition and thin-film encapsulation (TFE) production steps. The process is more challenging to do with Samsung's flexible OLED displays that use plastic instead of glass substrate, as the hole's circumference has to be sealed separately against oxygen and moisture to prevent LED deterioration. 

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This is why Samsung works with the best equipment for the task, like the aforementioned Philoptics laser-cutting system and Wonik IPS vacuum chambers. Philoptics alone said it will be supplying 26.9 billion won (~$27 million) worth of equipment to Samsung Display's Vietnam factory in the next year or so, or in time for the iPhone 14 Pro production ramp up. Apple's display orders may also be behind the recent info that Samsung's screen assembly lines in Vietnam will be increasing their flexible OLED display capacity by nearly 50% next year.

Yesterday we learned that LG still has a chance to provide Apple with high refresh rate LTPO displays for the iPhone 14 series, depending on whether its trials work out with the needed quality and cost. Back in September, LG's tool supplier Avaco still had to ship and mount the LTPO trial batches equipment to LG Display’s E6-1, E6-2 and E6-3 OLED production lines. "LG Display is planning to convert its line to LTPO TFT OLED in the hopes that it will supply them to Apple next year," tipped the Elec's insiders, raising Apple's hopes that it may have another 120Hz LTPO display supplier in time for the iPhone 14 series. Not only that, but LG was rumored to be working on punch-hole panels for Apple, too.

LG is reportedly still in the game for the new punch-hole iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max screen panels, claims today's report, as it is developing technologies for cutting a selfie camera hole in its future LTPO OLED displays, but also for placing under-display cameras there. Both of those undertakings will be needed for Apple's Face ID feature to work on an iPhone without a notch, and LG better get cracking as Samsung has a big lead already. 

With the announcement of the S22 series, Samsung will have been laser-cutting display holes for four generations of its high-end Galaxy S line, while it already has a phone with under-display camera on the market, the Galaxy Z Fold 3. If LG wants some of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max punch-hole display business, it will have to catch up fast. In any case, the moral of the story is that the iPhone 14 Pro Max will finally look like a modern "all-screen" phone and have the largest usable display area on an iPhone so far.

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