Apple Watch Series 3 to Feature New Touchscreen Panel Due to Supply Yield Issues

Apple Watch Series 3
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Apple’s upcoming Apple Watch Series 3 will feature a new type of touchscreen, according to a supply chain report.

Due to cost and supply chain issues, the Series 3 will reportedly feature a glass-film touch solution in place of the touch-on-lens panels used on the Apple Watch Series 2. Apparently, supplier TPK Holding has been plagued with difficulties in raising the yield rates for the current touch panels due to the curved surface of the screen complicating the manufacturing process, according to industry sources cited by Taiwan-based DigiTimes. Those yield rate problems resulted in losses for the company last year, and moving forward, Apple is likely to pick General Interface Solution or Biel Crystal Manufactory to manufacture the glass-film panels, the sources said.

Whereas a touch-on-lens panel integrates a touch sensor onto the backside of the cover glass, glass-film panels utilize a thin glass layer on top of the touch components, as well as a heavy-duty film laminate. Glass-film panels are typically more scratch- and temperature-resistant than touch-on-lens or glass-on-glass panels, and are easier to clean. Despite any benefits, it’s clear that this is mostly a response to a supply chain problem.

Additionally, DigiTimes’ supply chain sources indicated that shipments of the new glass-film touch panels would start in “the second half of 2017,” which lines up with previous reports that the Apple Watch Series 3 would be launched in this year’s third quarter, according to Chinese publication Economic Daily News. Due to the tentative timing of such a release, it’s feasible that a new generation of Apple Watch might be unveiled alongside this year’s series of iPhone.

Along with the glass-film touch panel, the Series 3 is expected to host some incremental new features, including a longer-lasting battery and a faster processor. Interestingly, Apple has also filed a variety of patents in recent months that could show up in an upcoming Apple Watch — including bands with built-in chargers, thinner bodies by way of repositioned haptic feedback components, and even a FaceTime camera and wrist gesture controls. Since those are patents, however, there’s no guarantee which — if any — will show up on the Series 3 or other future Apple Watch models.

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