Apple is evaluating the feasibility of using IGZO displays across their iPad, iPad mini and iPhone products in 2013. Apple is in further discussions with Sharp over IGZO panel production capacity estimates for 2013 and is also inquiring about whether AU Optronics' (AUO) L5C line could be used to produce the technology.
Qualcomm recently invested in Sharp to push forward the technology. Sharp is reportedly betting on IGZO to save the company, which is in a difficult financial situation.
IGZO is a transparent compound semiconductor (its name comes from the elements it is made from: indium, gallium, zinc, oxygen) that Sharp co-developed with Corning Glass. IGZO transistors are smaller than the ones in conventional displays, so screens made with it can produce much higher resolution.
IGZO has been touted as having many benefits over existing technology:
The screen's transistors do not have to be continually refreshed when a still image is on the screen which saves significant batter power and much less interference from the screen's electronics so the touch panel becomes more accurate and sensitive.
Obviously, those improvements would be highly desired for Apple to advance their products. The iPad, in particular, actually found itself both thicker and heavier in the 3rd Generation model in order to accommodate the battery for the power-hungry Retina display.
IGZO displays consume far less power, so in addition to enabling high-definition content on mobile devices, the devices themselves should last about twice as long between charges.
Display power consumption and thickness were also likely factors that prevented the iPad mini from adopting a Retina display in its first generation. Rumours have already suggested that the 2013 5th Generation iPad could be slightly thinner and smaller than the current models.
The glass edge of each display can also be made slimmer, allowing for smaller devices.
Sharp's IGZO display technology is remarkable for a number of reasons, but chief among them for the entertainment industry is that it has the potential to bump cellphone and tablet screens to the resolution of Apple' Retina displays and beyond.
IGZO is an inherently high-resolution technology offering approximately four times the resolution of 1080p HD.
The first smartphones with IGZO-based displays went on sale in Japan in late 2012, and Sharp on Monday unveiled the PN-K321, a 32-inch display that is capable of 3840x2160 pixels, also known as Ultra High Definition. Sharp claims the monitor is also the category's thinnest at 35mm.
It is predictied the iPad and iPhone will ship with this more advanced display technology in 2013.