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Next iPhone said to get new touch panel tech

The so-called iPhone 5 could get "in-cell touch panels," making for a slimmer device.

Apple's next iPhone may tap into new touch panel technology, allowing for a lighter device, according to an Asia-based report.

An improvement in production "yield rates" of "in-cell touch panels" has induced Apple to begin working with two Japanese companies, DigiTimes said, citing sources.

Those panels are being made by Japan-based Sharp and a division of Toshiba.

In-cell multitouch technology integrates touch into the thin-film transistor (TFT) LCD manufacturing process, obviating the need for additional sensors and glass. This reduces the weight of the device, among other benefits.

Upcoming display conferences in Taiwan will highlight this technology. And in-cell touch panels have also been a hot topic for companies like AUO, which have been discussing this technology for a few years now.

The report adds that the Japanese companies will ramp up production in the second quarter. And that Apple's new iPhone is expected to be released in the third quarter of 2012.

If true, the adoption of the in-cell touch panels could negatively impact Apple's current suppliers, TPK Holdings and Wintek, which use more standard glass on glass touch technology.