Future iPhones and Apple Watches could use new power-saving LTPO TFT display backplane technology

The new trade could improve the battery life on iPhones and Apple Watches.

  • Published: August 27, 2018 3:55 PM IST

Smartphones are getting smarter and powerful, but the display screen and the central processing unit (CPU) are two most power-hungry components that impact the battery life. There are a lot of factors that determine the power consumption, such as applications, content consumed by the user, usage patterns, and more. The display is one component that is widely used after the CPU, and to prolong the battery life, reducing display consumption is important.

Apple has constantly been working on improving the battery life on iPhones and Apple Watches, and with the future iPhones, Apple could make a fundamental change. According to a research note on IHS Markit, Apple could move away from a low-temperature polysilicon thin-film transistor (LTPS TFT), something that is currently used in AMOLED panel production.

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The research note and analysis further suggests that Apple is looking forward to develop low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) backplanes. Apple recently filed for three patents that offer evidence of the company’s interest, where each patent details how the backplane technology will help improve the battery life.

For those unaware, the backplane is responsible for turning the individual pixels on and off, which also means that it plays a crucial role in determining the power consumption, refresh rate and display resolution, IHS explains.

The research note further cites patents for “Organic light-emitting diode displays with semiconducting-oxide and silicon thin-film transistors” from 2014, “Displays with silicon and semiconducting oxide thin-film transistors” from 2015, and “Methods of protecting semiconductor oxide channel in hybrid TFT process flow” from 2018.

In theory, LTPO can help in saving anywhere between 5-15 percent power consumption compared to the current LTPS. According to IHS, Apple may be interested in developing LTPO technology to gain improved control over OLED display components, as currently, only LG and Samsung have exclusive control over the process. With the size and resolution of iPhone displays increasing, the power consumption is also increasing, and the process could turn out to be beneficial in getting some battery life gains.

  • Published Date: August 27, 2018 3:55 PM IST