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The iPhone 8’s colors, look, speed and photo-taking capabilities were impressive, but the smartphone’s ability to run augmented reality apps stole the show!
USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s iPhone X boasts a cutting-edge screen bursting with crisp, bright images, the sort of eye-popping technology that gets consumers to line up to spend $1,000 or moreon the device.

But that line will be long and slow: Apple won’t start shipping the redesigned phone until Nov. 3, more than seven weeks after it was unfurled Tuesday.

The reason is as crystal clear as iPhone X’s new OLED screen. OLED manufacturers can’t build the screens fast enough as they increasingly pop up on smartphones, high-definition TVs, watches, virtual reality headsets and other gizmos. It’s an issue that not only is dogging Apple, costing it billions of dollars in short-term sales, but has tripped up Samsung, HTC and Google, too.

“It’s an industry issue,” says Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight, a research firm headquartered in London. “There is a lack of manufacturing capacity for OLED and a lower yield of screens that meet (quality) standards.”

Apple declined comment on OLED delays.

As smartphones have become better video devices, OLED (organic light emitting diode) represents the natural evolution of display technology because it delivers a wider and richer color palette, as well as improved contrast and better viewing angles than LCD displays. 

An OLED crunch has already muddied the releases of other consumer tech products in the last year. 

Google’s Pixel phone, out last year, faced supply constrictions around OLED, as did HTC’s Vive VR goggles and the latest big-screen OLED TVs.

High demand, short supply

Parts makers can’t build the screens as fast as device manufacturers want.

OLED displays have been highly-valued in portable devices such as smartphones and wearables such as smart watches, including each series of the Apple Watch, because of their super-thinness and more efficient power usage. OLED displays are also used in virtual reality goggles because they have faster refresh rates to prevent blurred imagery.

As consumers spend more time watching video on their smartphones, manufacturers such as Samsung — which committed to OLED since its Galaxy S smartphone launched in 2010 and also makes the OLED screens in Apple’s $999 iPhone X — are choosing the displays over standard…