LG Expected to Share OLED Display Orders for 2019 iPhones, Possibly Followed by BOE as Early as 2020

Samsung is believed to be Apple's exclusive supplier of OLED displays for iPhones, but it may have company soon.


In a research note shared with MacRumors, Barclays analysts said fellow Korean company LG will likely support OLED display production for 2019 iPhones, possibly followed by Chinese manufacturer BOE as early as 2020.

Multiple reports have indicated that Apple may tap LG and BOE as additional OLED display suppliers. Apple aims to diversify its supply chain as much as possible, often securing at least two suppliers for any given component, a strategy that reduces its supply chain risk and improves its negotiating position.

Apple is widely expected to launch three new iPhones in 2019, including two higher-end 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch OLED models and one lower-end 6.1-inch LCD model. In 2020, rumors suggest Apple will complete its transition to an all-OLED lineup, including 5.4-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch models.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

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China’s BOE Considered ‘Strong Contender’ for OLED Display Orders for Future iPhones, Joining Samsung

An escalating trade war between Japan and South Korea could make Chinese manufacturer BOE Technology a "strong contender" for OLED display orders from Apple, according to industry sources who spoke with DigiTimes.


Samsung has been the undisputed leader in OLED display manufacturing, and as a result it has reportedly been the exclusive supplier of OLED displays for the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max, but the industry sources cited believe the Japanese-Korean trade row could upend its monopoly position.

Apple aims to diversify its supply chain as much as possible, often securing at least two suppliers for any given component, but Samsung's lead in OLED display manufacturing has left it with few alternatives so far.

LG, for example, reportedly temporarily halted one of its OLED display production lines due to manufacturing challenges earlier this year. LG already supplies OLED displays for the Apple Watch and is widely expected to become a secondary supplier of OLED displays for iPhones when capable to.

With at least one of BOE or LG joining the mix, Apple is poised to reduce its supply chain risk and improve its negotiating position.


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Apple Reportedly in Talks With Samsung About OLED Displays for Future iPads and MacBooks

Samsung is the exclusive supplier of OLED displays for the iPhone X and newer, as part of a supply agreement with Apple. Due to fewer iPhone sales than anticipated in recent quarters, however, Apple has reportedly ordered fewer OLED displays from Samsung than both companies initially expected.


Due to the shortfall, Korea's ETNews reports that Apple now owes Samsung a penalty in the amount of hundreds of millions of dollars. Instead of paying cash, however, the report claims Apple has offered multiple options, including committing to OLED display orders for future products like "tablets and notebooks."

This aligns with a recent report from Korean site The Elec that claimed Samsung is in talks with Apple about supplying OLED displays for an all-new 16-inch MacBook Pro and future iPad Pro models.

MacRumors mockup of 16-inch MacBook Pro

We first heard about a potential 16-inch to 16.5-inch MacBook Pro from well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said the notebook will launch at some point in 2019 with an "all-new design," but he did not comment on which display technology the notebook will use or share any other details.

Kuo has also previously claimed that two new iPad Pro models will enter mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, but again, he did not say which display technology the tablets will use.


Beyond that, Kuo expects Apple to launch several new products with Mini-LED backlights over the next two years, including a 10-inch to 12-inch iPad in late 2020 or early 2021 and a 15-inch to 17-inch MacBook in the first half of 2021, so it's unclear exactly how far away we are from the first OLED-based iPads and Macs.

Apple's transition to OLED started with the Apple Watch, followed by the iPhone X, so the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro would continue that natural progression of the technology from smaller to larger displays.

OLED displays could have several benefits for future iPad Pro and MacBook Pro models, including lower power consumption, increased brightness, sharper colors, and faster response times compared to LCDs. OLED panels are often thinner, too, which could lead to slimmer and lighter product designs.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, MacBook Pro

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Samsung Rumored to Supply OLED Displays for 16-Inch MacBook Pro and Future iPad Pros

Samsung is in talks with Apple about supplying OLED displays for a 16-inch MacBook Pro and future iPad Pro models, according to Korean site The Elec, which does not have a proven track record in terms of Apple rumors.


We first heard about a potential 16-inch to 16.5-inch MacBook Pro from well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said the notebook will launch at some point in 2019 with an "all-new design," but he did not comment on which display technology the notebook will use or share any other details.

Kuo later said Apple is planning to release a new 15-inch to 17-inch MacBook Pro with a mini-LED backlight in the first half of 2021. It is unclear if this will be a future iteration of the 16-inch MacBook Pro or exactly how Apple's plans will play out.


Kuo has also previously claimed that two new iPad Pro models will enter mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, but again, he has not commented on what display technology the tablets would use. He also expects a new iPad with a mini-LED backlight in late 2020 to early 2021.

Little else is known about the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro or new iPad Pro models at this time. Apple surprised us earlier this week with new 2019 MacBook Pro models, but the only changes are faster processors and a "new material" added to the keyboard for improved reliability — hopefully, at least.

Given this week's MacBook Pro refresh, it is reasonable to assume that Apple will not release the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro until at least the fall. Or, if the 16-inch MacBook Pro has been delayed internally, then perhaps it won't debut until an event next year such as WWDC 2020 in June. It is too early to say.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, MacBook Pro

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LG Display to Supply Apple With 400,000 OLED iPhone Panels By End of Year

Apple has contracted LG Display to begin production of OLED panels for iPhones. According to ETNews, the display panels will be produced at LG's E6 production line in Paju, with shipping to begin next month.


LG will supply approximately 400,000 OLED panels to Apple before the end of the year, with the cost of each unit expected to be around $90.

In September it was reported that LG's sixth-generation flexible OLED display panels passed a series of Apple's quality tests, which led to the preparation phase for mass production.

In April, a report claimed that Samsung would likely remain Apple's exclusive supplier of OLED display panels for its latest phones, after LG fell behind schedule due to mass production challenges.

However it looks like LG has cemented its position as Apple's secondary supplier of OLED panels. Korean newspaper Newspin reported about a potential deal signed between Apple and LG back in July.

Apple in September launched the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max with 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch OLED displays, respectively. Last month it launched the more affordable iPhone XR, but that phone has a 6.1-inch LCD "Liquid Retina" display.

Apple can potentially negotiate lower prices for OLED panels as Samsung and LG compete for its business, which should in turn lower its production costs of OLED-equipped iPhones.

Related Roundup: iPhone XS
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LG Named Second Supplier of OLED Displays in iPhones

LG has been selected as a secondary supplier of flexible OLED display panels for iPhones, according to Korean publication ETNews.


The report, citing unnamed sources, claims that LG's sixth-generation flexible OLED display panels recently passed a series of Apple's quality tests. LG is now preparing for mass production at one of its plants, the sources said.

In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung would likely remain Apple's exclusive supplier of OLED display panels for the latest iPhones, unveiled Wednesday, after LG fell behind schedule due to mass production challenges.

If today's report is accurate, however, LG may still be coming on board as a secondary supplier of at least some OLED panels soon. Korean newspaper Newspin reported about a potential deal signed between Apple and LG back in July.

Samsung has been Apple's exclusive supplier of OLED display panels since the iPhone X launched last year. Numerous reports have identified LG as a potential second supplier, as Apple routinely aims to diversify its component makers.

While this news does not have significant implications for customers, Apple can potentially negotiate lower prices for OLED panels as Samsung and LG compete for its business, thereby lowering its production costs of OLED-equipped iPhones.

Earlier this week, Apple introduced the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max with 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch sized OLED displays respectively. The new, lower-priced iPhone XR is equipped with a 6.1-inch LCD as a cost-cutting measure.

The original iPhone X also has a 5.8-inch OLED display, but Apple discontinued that model upon announcing the XS and XS Max.


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Apple Supplier LG Display’s Quarterly Losses Unlikely to Affect OLED Investment

Apple supplier LG Display has reported a second quarterly loss and cut its investment plans by $2.7 billion up to 2020, on mounting concerns for the smartphone market (via Reuters).

LG shares fell 7 percent after it posted faster-than-expected declines in the price of display panels and an unpredictable outlook. The announcement follows news that another Apple supplier, Taiwan-based TSMC, also scaled back its revenue and investment estimates over uncertainty in the mobile market linked to risks of oversupply and unbalanced competition.


Crucially for Apple, LG said the $2.7 billion investment cut would not impact the speed of the Korean firm's transition from LCD to OLED production, although existing LCD operations could be affected.
The investment cut would not impact plans to "speed up the shift" from LG’s mainstay liquid crystal display (LCD) business toward next-generation organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, the company said.

Plans to invest about 20 trillion won in OLED panels by 2020 remained unchanged, meaning the cuts would apply mainly to LCD operations.
LG's traditional LCD business, which analysts estimate makes up more than 90 percent of its sales, is reportedly struggling with falling prices as fast-growing Chinese panel makers ramp up their capacity.

Against that backdrop, Apple is investing $2.67 billion in LG's OLED panel business, with the Korean firm said to be building a production line dedicated to iPhone orders only, as part of its agreement with Apple.

Separately, LG is believed to have signed a deal with Apple to supply both LCD and OLED panels for the company's 2018 range of iPhones.

Apple is expected to launch two OLED iPhones (5.8 and 6.5 inches) and one 6.1-inch LCD iPhone later this year, with the LCD device to be positioned as a low-cost option alongside the two more expensive OLED devices.

The contract should see LG ship around 20 million LCD smartphone panels and around 3-4 million OLED panels to Apple in 2018. LG also hopes to secure the majority of 6.5-inch panel orders from Apple in 2019, which will see the firm ramp up its OLED shipments to 10 million units in the year.

LG's OLED panel business has yet to make a profit, but the company said it would be positive for earnings in the third quarter.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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China’s BOE Seeking to Become OLED Panel Supplier to Apple

China-based BOE Technology Group is stepping up its bid to become an OLED panel supplier for Apple's future smartphones, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.

BOE is the world's top producer of large liquid crystal screens and already makes displays for Apple's iPads and MacBooks, but the firm now has its sights set on the lucrative OLED panel market.

The earliest BOE could supply the OLED screens would be from 2020, one person familiar with the matter said. For iPhones intended for release later this year, Apple is set to procure screens mainly from Samsung, with a small portion coming from LG Display Co. , people have said.
If Apple and BOE were to agree to a deal, the Chinese manufacturer would become Apple's first OLED supplier outside of South Korea and Japan. Samsung exclusively produces OLED displays for the current iPhone X, but Apple is in the process of opening up to LG, Sharp and Japan Display.

Apple has considered using BOE as an OLED supplier before. In February 2017, Bloomberg reported that Apple had been testing BOE's OLED displays for months, but that it hadn't decided whether to add the company as a supplier.

One of the reasons for the delay may have been down to the OLED panel manufacturing process, which is much more difficult than making liquid crystal displays. If so, BOE will need to do more to convince Apple that it can produce large numbers of OLED panels while maintaining the highest quality controls.
If it succeeds, BOE will not only prove its manufacturing prowess with a technically challenging product, but also will score a big win for China in its race to catch up to South Korea and Japan in advanced display-screen manufacturing.

Buying display screens from BOE, which is controlled by the Beijing city government and whose biggest shareholders are state-linked companies, could help Apple stay in China’s good graces—as long as BOE can meet Apple’s high bar for quality.
BOE is one of China's largest display makers, recently spending about $14.5 billion on two AMOLED factories. One of the new factories opened last summer, while another will open a couple years later. When they're up to full capacity, BOE says they'll be able to produce 1.6 million square-meters of flexible glass substrates (surfaces that displays are carved out of) a month.

Tags: China, OLED, BOE

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LG Display Signs Deal With Apple to Supply OLED and LCD Panels for 2018 iPhones

LG Display has signed a deal with Apple to supply both LCD and OLED panels for the company's 2018 range of iPhones, according to a new report by Korea-based Newspin (via DigiTimes).

The contract will see LG Display ship around 20 million LCD smartphone panels to Apple in 2018, according to the report, which also puts the number of OLED panels to be supplied by LG in the 3 to 4 million ballpark range, as per previous rumors.


In addition, the report claims LG is "likely" to secure the majority of 6.5-inch panel orders from Apple in 2019, which will see the firm ramp up its OLED shipments to 10 million units in the year. LG will reportedly produce the OLED panels for iPhone at its E6 6G plant in Paju, Korea.

Apple is expected to launch two OLED iPhones (5.8 and 6.5 inches) and one 6.1-inch LCD iPhone later this year, with the LCD device to be positioned as a low-cost option alongside the two more expensive OLED devices.

It's unclear at present what the reported LG-Apple deal means for LCD suppliers Sharp and Japan Display, the latter of which is trying to raise millions through third-party share allocations and asset sales in order to have the necessary funds to supply LCD screens for Apple's new iPhones.

Last year, Japan Display lost business because of Apple's shift to OLED, and with the firm again planning to invest in LCDs, it could be in trouble in the future, should Apple increasingly turn to Samsung and LG for both panel types.

DigiTimes has previously claimed Apple will seek 60 to 70 million LCD panels for its iPhones this year, but whether that number is destined solely for the new 6.1-inch model is unknown. Apple has already earmarked $2.67 billion to invest in LG's OLED panel production, with the Korean firm said to be building a production line dedicated to iPhone orders only, as part of its agreement with Apple.

Apple's desire for both LCD and OLED supplies also comes at a crucial time for LG. The company posted a net loss of 98.3 billion Korean won ($87 billion) in the first quarter of 2018, with the prospect of almost doubling that figure in losses for the second quarter.

LG's financial constraints also underline the importance of avoiding a repeat of the firm's past OLED mistakes, such as befell its Flex and G Flex 2 phones, released in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Both smartphone displays were widely criticized at the time for exhibiting graininess and variations in brightness, issues which returned in LG's own V30 and the Google Pixel 2 XL in models launched last year.

Related Roundup: 2018 iPhones

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Apple Seeking OLED Display Price Cut From Samsung Amid Rumors Next iPhone X Will Start at $899

Apple wants to reduce the price it pays Samsung for OLED displays used in current and future iPhone X models, according to DigiTimes.


The report, citing industry sources, claims Apple is requiring Samsung to lower its price to $100 per panel, down around 9.1 percent from the $110 that research firm IHS Markit estimated the iPhone maker paid in 2017.

Rather confusingly, the report first says Apple is negotiating with Samsung about the revised price, but later says it is a requirement.

If the price cut is indeed being forced upon Samsung, then Apple likely feels confident in its ability to secure OLED displays from LG as a second supplier, and is thereby benefitting from diversifying its supply chain and making its suppliers compete against each other on price in an effort to win millions of orders.

LG is widely considered to be ramping up its OLED display production capabilities in hopes of securing orders for Apple's next-generation iPhone lineup, but a recent report claimed mass production challenges have caused the company to fall behind schedule. It's unclear if those issues have been resolved.

Apple is expected to purchase up to 100 million OLED displays from Samsung in 2018, to be used for the current iPhone X, in addition to a second-generation iPhone X and so-called iPhone X Plus expected to launch in 2018.

Price cuts to the display and other components would help Apple lower its bill of materials for the iPhone X and future models, and the savings could potentially be passed on to customers. RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani, for example, believes the second-generation iPhone X will start at $899, down from $999.

No doubt, Apple's own bottom line also stands to benefit from reduced production costs, so these negotiations are most likely par for the course.


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