Apple testing flexible OLED displays for its iWatch: Report

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Apple has been believed to be working on its smartwatch for quite some time, though not much is known about the project except that the watch may be branded as the iWatch, as evident from trademark and patent filings.

However, a new report by Korean publication ChosunIlbo(via Unwired View) claims that the Cupertino giant is testing flexible OLED displays in different screen sizes including 1.3-inch, 1.4-inch and 1.5-inch, for its forthcoming smartwatch. The site even claims that a prototype of the Apple iWatch with a 1.5-inch display has already been manufactured, citing people familiar with the matter as the source for this information. However, the report doesn’t shed any light on other features of the smartwatch.

It could be possible that Apple is sourcing the flexible OLED screens from Korean manufacturers like LG and Samsung, as both the companies have the capability to make these screens, but would be required to increase their production capacities, as the device would be a mass market product.

The news comes days after it was reported that two leading Taiwanese electronics firms, Inventec and Quanta Computer, that assemble products for Apple, have received orders to make the iWatch.

Device makers like Samsung and Sony have launched their new smartwatches in anticipation of Apple’s much talked about counterpart. To offer some context, the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch features a 1.63-inch (4.14 cm) OLED display, which is not flexible. The Sony SmartWatch 2 comes with a 1.6-inch screen Transflective LCD screen. Both of these smartwatches were launched in India in September, with the Samsung Galaxy Gear being priced at Rs. 22,990, and the Sony SmartWatch 2 at Rs. 14,990. The Samsung Galaxy Gear watch works with select Galaxy devices, while the Sony SmartWatch works with a wider range of Android devices.

Chipmaker Qualcomm also recently unveiled the Toq, a smartwatch that can play music and handle phone calls and messages, and said it would start selling the device in the fourth quarter, marking an entry into the emerging arena of wearable computing. Qualcomm claims that Toq will be the first smartwatch with a touch-enabled “Mirasol” colour screen that can be easily be viewed in bright sunlight.

Competition in the “smartwatch” market is heating up, with Google and Microsoft also reportedly racing to develop their own watch-type wearable computing devices.

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