WSJ: Apple iPhone 5 production has begun, thinner than ever with in-cell display

Even while Samsung celebrates its rising market share and record-setting Galaxy smartphone sales, Apple [AAPL] breaks cover with yet more rumors of the forthcoming iPhone 5, which will the Wall Street Journal today confirms will be thinner than ever through confirmed use of in-cell display technology.

[ABOVE: This video basically shows in-cell tech in use in a touch-enabled notebook.]

Manufacturing has begun

The report claims Apple's partners in the component supply industry have already begun manufacturing parts for the device. That's in line with other claims across the last few weeks.

The Wall Street Journal also tells us that Sharp, LG and Japan Display Inc. are involved in manufacturing panels for the next iPhone using in-cell tech, though the report notes that manufacturing process is proving difficult lowering yield rates. It observes that Wintek has been left out of the component supply loop for the new device.

In-cell displays host the touchscreen layer within the display itself, meaning you don't need a second layer for the interface. Doing so reduces display thickness by half a millimeter while also increasing the quality of the on-screen image.

New SIM card

David Hsieh, an analyst from DisplaySearch, first reported on Apple’s move to in-cell touch screen technology for the 2012 iPhone in April. With August traditionally a slow month, the mobile industry buzz is all around the iPhone. In Europe, carriers have reportedly begun stockpiling supplies of the new Apple-designed "nano-SIM" card which the company is likely to use within the iPhone 5.

Size is once again a big deal -- the nano SIM is 40 percent smaller than the micro-SIM, confirming yet another step toward miniaturization and opening possibilities for new families of tiny connected devices.

Apple had been rumored to intend moving to a new Sim card in this release, but that European carriers are stockpiling the part goes some way toward confirming this.

Carriers clearly expect colossal sales of the new iPhone when it does appear, with the Financial Times noting: "Operators were caught off guard by the adoption of the micro-Sim for the iPhone 4 as well as the original iPad two years ago, with some struggling to meet demand with their own micro-Sims in the first weeks of sale."


Slim, metal chassis, 4-inches

That report also informs us that mobile industry insiders are predicting the new iPhone will be slimmer than the previous version and equipped with a "fully metal" body.

This claim tallies nicely with another recent rash of purported iPhone case images which have been percolating across the 'Net. Chinese blog believes it has an image of the new front casing.

It looks pretty similar: you still have a physical Home button and the Facetime camera has been moved to the center top of the device. The frame is -- also as expected -- a widescreen 16:9 format, which serves up a little more confirmation of the much-expected move to a 4-inch display.

The thinness of the device seems set to be Apple's big thing in iPhone 5 (aka "the new iPhone"). The company is also expected to deploy a thinner Dock Connector than present models. The additional width and length should accommodate a larger battery for better battery life while still enabling the company to market the phone as "the world's thinnest, smartest and most advanced smartphone" when it introduces the product in September.

Thinner than ever

Reports in April claimed the new iPhone to be under 8mm thin, while previous stories in the iPhone 5 pre-release movie have hinted a move to new LiquidMetal alloys for the chassis of the device.

Given the increasingly homicidal nature of competition within the smartphone sector, Apple may also introduce the device at new and lower prices. Some April reports speculated prices as low as $169. Apple's recent move to renegotiate its distribution deals with carriers in Europe could suggest some negotiations as to price.

June reports saw Terry Gou, leader of Apple partner Foxconn say the coming iPhone 5 will "put the Samsung Galaxy to shame" when it appears. Meanwhile analysts from Wells Fargo recently declared the product introduction: "Will be the biggest product launch in consumer electronics history."

Apple must be hoping the product introduction will help it regain its market lead against Samsung, until that firm manages to put out a more competitive Galaxy device in mid-2013. That dance for market leadership seems set to last until Google takes the Android advantage away from its current market leading partner in favor of future devices from Motorola Mobility.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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