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Expected 21 September iPhone 5 launch date in doubt as Sharp struggles with LCD screen shipments

The unconfirmed 21 September release date for the new iPhone may be in jeopardy, based on reports that Sharp has yet to start mass production of screens for the new device.

Citing an unnamed source, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sharp, a major Apple supplier of liquid crystal displays, had planned to start shipping iPhone screens by the end of this month, but delayed those plans due to manufacturing difficulties.

There is no word yet on when the company – one of three suppliers of LCD panels for the new iPhone – can begin processing shipments, the Journal said.

The newspaper reported that the other two suppliers – Japan Display Inc. and South Korea's LG Display – have already started sending screens to Apple, but concerns have been raised over whether that will be enough to meet the expected demand for the new smartphone.

Sharp's first strike came earlier this year when it delayed shipments of screens to Apple's iPad. Supplies didn't suffer too much, however, which could mean the next-generation iPhone is still on track for a late-September release.

An unnamed source confirmed to Reuters, as well, that Sharp has fallen behind schedule, slowed by the high costs of manufacturing the screens.

Though the Cupertino-based company has not confirmed any news regarding its alleged new iPhone, rumour has it that the device will sport a 4in screen, a more heavy-duty battery, and a possible 8-pin dock connector – smaller than the current 30-pin port.