The iPhone 6 display will be a significant improvement over any other LCD smartphone. It will use the same Quantum Dot technology as the Kindle Fire HD7, but with an Apple twist. It will deliver a much wider color gamut than the Fire. Amazon compromised on color gamut in favor of color reproduction accuracy.
There are several reasons for believing that Apple will use Quantum Dot (QD) technology and that the iPhone 6 will be a major coup for Nanosys, a company that holds over 300 patents in QD and counts Samsung as one of its major investors.
News of Apple working on QD has been leaking since December last year, though it is assumed to be a longer term project than the iPhone 6.
When asked, Nanosys would not confirm that Apple will make use of QD, quoting tight NDAs with their customers as the reason for a no comment. However a number of clues point to it.
I spoke with Nanosysm CEO, Jason Hartlove last week and asked if their technology was already usable in a smartphone, without further technological improvement. His answer was unequivocal. It has no size limits, despite rumors to the contrary. The company will also supply to an 85 inch TV this year.
And he told me the first QD smartphone will launch by mid-year.
The rumor mill says the iPhone 6 will launch in June though there are variations on that theme with some guesses at May. If Apple does not use QD technology then it is difficult to see how the iPhone 6 will look different other than a larger form. That will make headlines but it is hardly an innovation. It plays into Samsung’s domain.
The second clue lies in Apple’s recent patent filings. The US patent office recently published 4 Apple QD related patent applications. That means Apple would have filed the applications 18 months ago, which means they began work on QD significantly in advance of that.
The applications are for improvements in QD technology - but Hartlove asserts that any work Apple is doing will be built on top of Nanosys’ patents. So the technology is there to be used – what Apple is doing, as it did with Retina, is creating its own variant and not just laying patent traps for potential competitors. Its work seems to be aimed at eliminating some of the compromise between color saturation and accuracy that Amazon had to concede to.
Finally there is the question of standards and of producing colors on screen that most closely resemble colors in print – to improve home shopping and related experiences. Although it is not a hot topic for consumers, it is for retailers who want product color to be uniform across all channels – typically, without that, product returns are high.
Without a much better screen what will the iPhone 6 offer that the 5S does not? Health apps?