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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Samsung Expected to Begin iPhone X Plus Display Production in May

Samsung will begin manufacturing OLED displays for a new iPhone X and iPhone X Plus next month, according to Taiwan's Economic Daily News.

Mockup of iPhone X and iPhone X Plus alongside iPhone 7 Plus via Reddit user SpaceKonk

The report claims Samsung will restart its production line in May, with plans to double its production capacity in June. The timeline appears to be slightly ahead of schedule, as it was supposedly believed that Samsung would not begin production until the end of June, or the beginning of the third quarter.

The report is a good sign that Apple's widely rumored trio of 2018 smartphones will be released simultaneously, including a new iPhone X, a larger iPhone X Plus, and a mid-range LCD model with Face ID. The new smartphone lineup will likely be announced in early September and available to order later in the month.

This would contrast with Apple's staggered release of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X last year. While all three models were unveiled in September, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus pre-orders began September 15, while iPhone X pre-orders didn't begin until October 27, nearly a month and a half later.

The delayed launch of the iPhone X was attributed to reported production challenges with the TrueDepth camera system powering Face ID. Those issues have since been resolved, and shouldn't have any effect on the 2018 launch.

All in all, getting your hands on Apple's flagship new smartphone may be quicker and easier this fall. But, as with any iPhone launch, pre-order availability will likely be limited, so early adopters will probably still need to act fast.

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Tags: Samsung, OLED

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Second-Generation iPhone X Estimated to Cost Apple Up to 10% Less to Manufacture

Apple has managed to reduce the manufacturing cost of its iPhone X successor to a level much lower than the current flagship model, according to DigiTimes' research analyst Luke Lin.
Lin cited information from Apple's upstream supply chain as indicating that the new device's MBOM [manufacturing bill of materials] will be more than 10% lower than that for iPhone X. He added that the MBOM of the iPhone X was more than US$400 in 2017.
Apple is rumored to be introducing three iPhones in 2018: The first is said to be a second-generation version of the iPhone X, with the same 5.8-inch OLED display, while the second can be thought of as an "iPhone X Plus" with a larger 6.5-inch OLED display.

Apple is also reportedly planning to introduce a new, more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD display. However, recent engineering samples from the 5.8-inch device are said to show components with lower-level specifications or lower capacities than those of the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, with LPDDR memory being one of the major differences.

According to Lin, the cost reduction could see Apple position the new 5.8-inch device as the cheapest model of all three next-generation iPhone models. The analyst also believes a project to develop a 5.8-inch LCD iPhone has been suspended since the end of the Lunar New Year holidays in mid-February and may be eventually terminated.

Lin reckons weak demand for iPhone X meant Apple needed a lot less OLED panels from Samsung than it said it would, which gave the Korean firm more bargaining power with regards to panel quotes for the next generation of iPhones. However, Apple has supposedly reached an agreement with Samsung and secured "satisfactory terms" that will prevent display panel cost increases.

DigiTimes' sources often provide reliable information, but the site has a mixed track record when it comes to interpreting that information and accurately deciphering Apple's plans, so it would be wise not to base any future purchasing decisions on today's report.

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Apple Likely to Buy 270 Million Display Panels for 2018 iPhone Lineup

Apple plans to order between 250 and 270 million display panels for its iPhone lineup this year, according to sources within Taiwan's panel industry. Around half that number will consist of OLED panels, to be shared among current-model iPhone X orders, a second-generation model, and a larger 6.5-inch iPhone, according to DigiTimes.

Apple's purchases of OLED panels in 2018 will reach 110-130 million units, including 70-80 million 5.9-inch units for the current iPhone X and an upgraded version of the same size. The remaining will be 40-50 million 6.5-inch OLED panels for the production of a less expensive model, said the sources.
Given the wording in the above quote from today's DigiTimes article, the "5.9-inch" reference could be overlooked as a typo, but claiming the 6.5-inch OLED panels are for a "less expensive model" seems off the mark.

Several reliable sources claim Apple is readying a second-generation version of the iPhone X with the same 5.8-inch OLED display, along with a larger "Plus" size with a 6.5-inch display. Design wise, both the 5.8-inch iPhone and 6.5-inch iPhone coming in 2018 are expected to look similar to the current iPhone X, with an edge-to-edge display and notch for the TrueDepth camera, glass bodies for wireless charging support, and dual-lens rear cameras.

Along with these two OLED iPhones, which will likely be just as expensive as the current iPhone X, Apple is however said to be planning to introduce a new, more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD display, according to reports.

DigiTimes claims 60 to 70 million Low-Temperature PolySilicon (LTPS) LCD panels have been earmarked for this device, and around the same number in 4-inch, 4.7-inch, and 5.5-inch sizes are destined for new iPhone 8, iPhone SE, and iPhone 7 devices this year. Other reports claim Apple could use a Full Active LCD display for an upcoming 6.1-inch device, which could match or exceed some of the benefits of OLED.

Otherwise, today's report reiterates previous OLED supplier rumors for 2018. Apple is said to be sourcing the majority of its OLED displays for the 2018 iPhone lineup from Samsung, but LG Display seeks to become the second-largest supplier in the second half of this year, perhaps providing displays for the 6.5-inch OLED iPhone. Lastly, DigiTimes' sources claim Sharp and Japan Display could become Apple's main suppliers of LCD panels, rather than shoring up extra OLED supplies, as previous report claimed.

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Chinese Smartphone Makers Plan for Mini LED Supply as Apple Expected to Control Majority of OLED Production This Year

Apple's domination of the OLED supply chain is one of the reasons why three Chinese smartphone makers are seeking out alternative display technology in future handsets, according to a report today by DigiTimes.

Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi are planning to adopt mini LED-backlit panels in smartphones launched later in 2018. The three companies believe that Apple "may extend use of AMOLED panels" to iPhones coming in 2018 and occupy even more of Samsung Display's production of the OLED displays.


Apple's entry in smartphone OLED displays began with the manufacturing of the iPhone X last year and is expected to increase in 2018 with the second-generation iPhone X and 6.5-inch "iPhone X Plus," which should lead Apple to significantly increase OLED display orders thanks to the larger size. The company has also implemented OLED displays into the Apple Watch.

Instead of attempting to fight for OLED display supply against Apple, the China-based smartphone makers are turning towards mini LED this year. The companies have reportedly asked Taiwan-based suppliers to begin producing mini LED backlighting in June 2018 in anticipation of products that would debut in the second half of 2018. Industry sources noted that technological advances in mini LED product designs have the potential to cut production costs, further boosting the smartphone makers' readiness to adopt the technology.

Besides Samsung Display, a report earlier in the month suggested that Apple will add LG Display to its OLED supply chain to help build 6.5-inch panels for the iPhone X Plus. Samsung was the sole OLED supplier for the iPhone X in 2017, and it's predicted that the company will increase supply of OLED panels to Apple with between 180 and 200 million OLED displays in 2018 (for the 5.8-inch device), up from an estimated 50 million in 2017.

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