A Bloomberg report says Apple is seeking to bolster its supply of OLED displays for its 2018 iPhone and is looking at China’s BOE Technology Group as a possible supplier.
Apple’s been testing BOE’s active-matrix organic light-emitting diode screens for months but hasn’t decided if it’ll add the Chinese company to its roster of suppliers, one of the people said, asking not to be named talking about private negotiations. BOE, one of the country’s largest screen makers, is spending close to 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) building two AMOLED plants in the southwestern province of Sichuan in anticipation of future business. Talks are at an early stage and it’s unlikely to supply the next iPhone, but BOE is banking on outfitting the one in 2018 or later, the person said.
If a deal is reached, it would mark the first time Apple has sourced its OLED screens from outside of South Korea and Japan.
Current Suppliers Unable to Meet iPhone Display Demand
A November report indicated Apple’s current OLED suppliers, Samsung, LG, Sharp and Japan Display, would not be able to meet the expected demand for the 2017 iPhone. OLED displays are in high demand, as smartphone makers make the move from LCD displays to the improved OLED technology. The increased demand has led to a shortage of the newer displays.
The worldwide shortage is believed to be the reasoning behind Apple’s limiting the new screens to its top-of-the-line “iPhone 8” in 2017, while it’s “iPhone 7s” handsets will continue to make use of LCD displays.
Beijing-based BOE is best known for making computer and TV displays. It expects to open a new factory this summer, while another facility is scheduled to open a few years down the line. When the first plant is up to full capacity, it’ll be able to produce 48,000 glass substrates a month, BOE said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg, referring to the thin surfaces from which screens are carved out.
Apple and BOE both declined to comment on the reported negotiations.