iPhone owners are about to reach a crossroads

At Display Week, Apple engineers took telling peeks at next-gen screen technologies of several telling sorts. Hardcore Apple devotees might find themselves at a crossroads in years to come, if what we're seeing Apple look at this week gets utilized in future Apple product. Especially when it comes to those Apple fans who use the iPhone because they've always used the iPhone, not because of new features – the next generation might be hard to swallow.

At noted by Gartner in late February of 2018, smartphone sales have dropped for the first time since 2004. Gartner suggested that this was due in part to users having old smartphones without a compelling reason to switch up. While we here in tech news care very much what each new smartphone model brings to the table, the vast majority of the world isn't particularly interested.

It would appear that most people only really care what new smartphones do when their old smartphones break or get lost. As such, we're at a place where Apple's yearly incremental update to the iPhone makes a lot of sense. People who had an old iPhone and it's either broken, lost, or isn't quite performing as well as it used to – they just want a new iPhone.

Apple's not satisfied with that situation. Apple, like any reasonable super-successful consumer technology business, wants to sell as much product as possible, as often as possible. As such, they're looking at new avenues down which they can take consumers new and old.

According to Forbes' Mark Gurman, Apple engineers registered for this year's Display Week reached 369 – that's 89 more than last year's event.

"Out on the conference floor, some Apple engineers appeared particularly interested in screens used in virtual-reality headsets made by Japan Display, which already provides these components for iPhones," said Gurman. "Other Apple staff took a close look at Samsung Display Co.'s latest high-resolution panels and screens that work well when wet from rain."

Virtual reality headset screens and screens that work well in the rain. That gives us two very different possibilities. One, a next-gen display that works better in the rain than current-gen displays on an iPhone – that's a feature that's worth mentioning in an Apple keynote. It's also a good and probably relatively inexpensive differentiator for the iPhone VS its closest competition.

Imagine an iPhone user seeking a new device, thinking: "I could switch to a different phone today, and I'll have to get use to Android or whatever, or I could just get the newest iPhone – and oh, look, this one works in the rain, too. Bonus! Better get an iPhone." It's that simple for the average consumer.

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Looking at VR displays doesn't necessarily mean Apple's making a VR headset. It could, however, lead to a new paradigm for Apple. A new device or devices that change the way a new smartphone is used. A new device or devices that are novelties at first, but essential to everyday life in the near future – like the original iPhone.

If and when Apple makes that next-gen device, you can bet Apple will be aiming to make ALL iPhone users consider buying something new. They don't just want those iPhone users who need a new iPhone because their old iPhone broke. Apple wants EVERYONE to get a new Apple device, regardless of the working condition of what they already own.