OLED display makers are battling it out for Apple’s business ahead of its first OLED iPhone, according to reports out of Korea. The Cupertino company has already signed a deal with Samsung Display, but LG Display, Japan Display, and others are said to be in the running.
ET News reports that Samsung Display will supply Apple with around 60,000 flexible OLED panels per month for a future iPhone, but even that won’t be enough. Apple is looking for a second supplier to increase yield rates and meet strong demand.
LG Display, Japan Display, and Foxconn are said to be in the running for that second spot, and LG and Japan Display have made big investments to expand their production of OLED panels. Both are set to open major new facilities in 2018.
Most rumors claim that’s the year when Apple will launch its first iPhone with an OLED display, but others suggest it will come earlier. A recent report from Nikkei said Apple had updated its timeline to bring the launch forward to 2017.
However, ET News suggests that Apple is currently working on deals for its “next iPhone,” which would be this year’s iPhone 7. It seems unlikely Apple would make the switch that soon, but it’s not completely out of the question.
Samsung is perfectly capable of producing OLED panels in large numbers — it already does for its own Galaxy lineup — and with the help of others, it’s certainly feasible that Apple could secure enough OLED panels for the iPhone 7’s launch this fall.
Switching to OLED will be a big move for Apple, which has always relied on LCD panels for its iOS devices. Apple Watch is its first gadget to use OLED displays, and that’s because they’re more power efficient, which makes them ideal for smaller devices with smaller batteries.
It seems inevitable now that the iPhone is next in line to get one, but we’ll have to wait until September to see whether Apple is ready to make that move this year.