Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has placed a large order for touch panels for its next-generation iPad, dubbed the “iPad 5,” which suggests that production Apple's highly anticipated flagship tablet device is ramping up, with a release date likely to take place toward the end of this year, during the lucrative holiday season.
There are other signs Apple is preparing for the release of the iPad 5.
DigiTimes, a Taiwan-based news publication, reported on Thursday that TPK, the company’s touch panel supplier, (TPE:3673) expects third quarter performance this year to improve due to One Glass Solution (OGS) touch panel orders from Apple.
Citing industry sources, the report said that TPK, a Taiwan-based firm that specializes in the research, development, manufacturing and distribution of capacitive touch sensors, modules and monitors, anticipates increased orders throughout August and September as Apple gears up to launch the iPad 5.
The OGS touch panel uses a single piece of glass as both cover lens and sensor substrate. The technology incorporates the touch sensor into the cover lens to reduce the material cost, thickness and weight of the device.
The OGS touch panels are cheaper than the traditional G/G-type touch panels featured in the current model of the 9.7-inch iPad. They are also use a more mature process than the in-cell display process featured on the iPhone 5, iDownloadBlog reported.
According to the DigiTimes report, the Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is one of TPK's largest customers, which explains why its revenues decreased in June by 40 percent after Apple adjusted its reserves throughout the previous quarter. However, TPK expects its third quarter earnings to rebound due to the order increase from the iPhone-maker.
TPK expects Apple to place lamination orders for the ipad mini as well. The company also cut the prices of its touch panel products “in order to land more orders from Apple amid increasing competition in the touch panel industry.”
Rumors are rife that the upcoming iPad 5 will feature a “thin-film touch screen technology,” making it about 20 to 30 percent lighter than the current model. The new tablet may also sport a slimmer bezel design, which could allow users to enjoy a bigger viewing area.
The iPad 5 is expected to have a display with a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels and only one light tube in its backlight instead of two.
Apple’s display screen supplier LG (NYSE:LPL) will reportedly ship 2.5 million to 3 million 9.7-inch panels for the full-size iPad every month in the third quarter of 2013, around 1 million to 2 million panels of which will be earmarked for the iPad 5.