Apple has been granted a new patent for a touchscreen LCD technology that amalgamates multiple layers of the screen to form a thinner, lighter and potentially cheaper panel that could feature on the next iPhone.
Titled rather vaguely “Touch screen liquid crystal display”, the patent discloses various methods that can be employed to “integrate the touch sensing elements with the display circuitry”, alongside “techniques for manufacturing and operating such displays, as well as various devices embodying such displays”.
Apple cites PDAs, multimedia players, mobile telephones and GPS devices as potential handheld kits that could utilise the tech. In other words the next iPod touch, iPad (mini?) and la iPhone.
The filing states: "By integrating the layered structure of an LCD and a touch sensor, a variety of benefits can be achieved. This integration can include combining or interleaving the layered structures described above.
“Integration can further include eliminating redundant structures and/or finding dual purposes (e.g., one purpose for the touch function and another for the display function) for particular layers or structures. This can permit some layers to be eliminated, which can reduce cost and thickness of the touch screen LCD, as well as simplify manufacturing.”
Unofficially dubbed “in-cell” technology, the panel essentially incorporates the touch sensor layer, normally sandwiched between the top glass and the LCD layers, directly into the screen.
As a result, the size and thickness of the device can be reduced too, making it thinner and lighter, which corroborates rumours that the iPhone 5 could be an impressive 7.6mm thin, almost 20 per cent slimmer than the iPhone 4S, which comes at 9.3mm.
The next-gen kit is also expected to be taller and feature a larger, four-inch display, a beefier quad-core processor, an improved camera sensor and possibly NFC and 4G capabilities.