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Apple might change OLED supplier from Samsung to China’s BOE Tech

Apple has been thinking of switching its display panel suppliers for some time now and the decision might come through some time later this year.

tech Updated: Feb 16, 2017 17:59 IST
HT Correspondent
Apple has been thinking of switching its display panel suppliers for some time now and the decision might come through some time later this year.
Apple has been thinking of switching its display panel suppliers for some time now and the decision might come through some time later this year.

Apple might soon change its organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display supplier from Samsung to China’s BOE tech as a Bloomberg report suggests that the iPhone-maker is in discussions with BOE for the next generation displays for its future iPhones.

The report claims that although Apple has been talking to BOE, it is yet to decide on adding the company to the list of its suppliers. One of the sources quoted in the report also says that BOE might not supply for the iPhone 8 but start in 2018 if it is added to the rooster.

BOE, one of the country’s largest screen makers, is spending close to CNY 100 billion ($14.5 billion or roughly Rs. 97,066 crores) building two AMOLED plants in the southwestern province of Sichuan in anticipation of future business.

Read: ‘Apple’s 4.7-inch iPhone 8 will come with a larger battery but a bigger price tag’

However, if BOE is selected then it will be the first OLED supplier for Apple outside Korea and Japan. Apple has been exploring newer alternatives for OLED supply as it face stiff competition from rivals such as Samsung and Huawei to provide better quality displays along with efficient power management.

Apple declined to comment, and BOE declined to comment on talks with customers.

In terms of bill of materials, OLED displays are one of the most expensive components of a smartphone. OLED screens are more difficult to produce, making Apple beholden to suppliers still working to manufacture the displays in mass quantities. The world’s four biggest suppliers of smartphone displays - Samsung Display Co., Sharp Corp., LG Display Co. and Japan Display Inc. - are said to have insufficient capacity to equip all new iPhones this year, a constraint that may persist into 2018. That means Apple may be forced to adopt OLED in just a single version of its device this year, the 10th anniversary of the smartphone’s debut.

Read: Apple to start iPhone 8 production early to meet ‘unprecedented’ demand

“It’s an opportunity for BOE as Apple is known to seek multiple suppliers for one component,” James Yan, research director for Counterpoint Research in Beijing, told Bloomberg. “But it’s unlikely to challenge Samsung because it is able to roll out high-quality screens at a steady capacity.”