The changes coming in the iPhone 5 may be more than skin deep. Apple's next handset has been rumored to have a larger 4-inch-plus screen for a while now, but today, the Wall Street Journal reported that the iPhone 5 will use "in-cell" display technology to make said screen thinner and more visually appealing than ever before.
In-cell LCD technology builds touch sensors directly into the LCD itself, eschewing the typical need for a separate touch screen layer. Utilizing it should shave half a millimeter off the iPhone screen's thickness. DisplaySearch's Hiroshi Hayase told the WSJ that it should also improve image quality, although we can't imagine it making a tremendous difference.
More importantly for Apple, it would simplify the company's supply chain by cutting out an extra component. According to the newspaper's sources, Sharp, LG and Japan Display Inc. are already pumping out in-cell displays en masse in preparation for the iPhone 5 debut. If the report turns out to be true it would validate an April report by Focus Taiwan, in which another DisplaySearch analyst predicted that Apple would make the switch to in-cell displays from Japanese manufacturers, as is apparently the case.
Aside from rumors about a larger screen and a smaller dock connector, we haven't heard all that much about the next iteration of the iPhone. Last week, however, alleged photos of an iPhone 5 engineering sample leaked to the Web, purporting to show the exterior design of the phone.