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BOE will make iPhone 14 OLED panels despite previous screen issues

Published Jul 7th, 2022 6:41PM EDT
iPhone 13 Pro Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Every iPhone generation introduces display improvements, and the iPhone 14 will be no different. All four iPhone 14 models will feature OLED screens, just like their predecessors. But not all of these displays will be identical when it comes to design and features.

Moreover, not every OLED panel that Apple will use for the iPhone 14 will come from the same manufacturer. A new report says Apple has certified Chinese screen maker BOE for iPhone 14 OLED panel production.

The report comes nearly two months after news broke that BOE’s business relationship with Apple might be in danger after the supplier allegedly made iPhone 13 panel changes without Apple’s blessing.

BOE to make OLED screens for the iPhone 14

Specifically, reports in mid-May said that Apple discovered that BOE changed the design of the iPhone 13 OLED panels on its own. BOE reportedly expanded the circuit width of the thin-film transistors. Apple shut production, with C-level BOE execs visiting Apple to explain the company’s unilateral decision to alter the design of a critical iPhone component.

Reports at the time said that BOE risked losing the iPhone 14 OLED screen manufacturing contract as a result. Samsung and LG would be the winners of BOE’s orders. The Korean companies were always going to be the main suppliers for iPhone 14 OLED screens, with Samsung getting most orders.

About a month later, new reports from Asia indicated that BOE was still in the cards to supply a tiny portion of the OLED panels for the iPhone 14 series. Apple was still evaluating the Chinese company for iPhone 14 OLED panel production.

Close-up of Apple's rumored pill-and-hole notch replacement for the iPhone 14 Pro.
Close-up of Apple’s rumored pill-and-hole notch replacement for the iPhone 14 Pro. Image source: Front Page Tech

Fast-forward to early July, and new reports from the region indicate that BOE has passed the certification for iPhone 14 OLED production. BOE will start mass production in July, with shipments to follow in September.

Per ITHome, Apple will need 90 million OLED panels for all iPhone 14 models this year. Samsung will manufacture 60 million of them, with LG making 25 million. BOE will only supply Apple with 5 million iPhone 14 OLED panel units.

Unlike Samsung and LG, BOE will only manufacture screens serving the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 model.

Will the iPhone 14 have an always-on OLED display?

Not all iPhone screens are identical, despite Apple’s efforts. Apple introduced the first iPhone OLED panel in 2017 with the iPhone X. But the company needed a few years to equip all new models with OLED screens. That happened in 2020 with the iPhone 12 series.

Then the iPhone 13 delivered a significant change. The Pro models featured LTPO OLED panels, allowing Apple to raise the refresh rate to 120Hz. The non-Pro variants stayed on the LTPS OLED tech that only supports a fixed refresh rate of 60Hz.

Apple iPhone 13 Display
Apple iPhone 13 Display Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

For the iPhone 14 series, Apple is likely to stick with the same strategy. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will feature LTPO OLED panels that will support variable refresh rates of up to 120Hz. But ProMotion might go as low as 1Hz this year, compared to just 10Hz for the iPhone 13 models. As a result, Apple might bring always-on display features to the iPhone 14 Pro models.

Another advantage of ProMotion on iPhone is better battery life. iOS can reduce the screen refresh rates depending on how the screen is used. This can lead to battery efficiency improvements.

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus/Max will stay on LTPS OLED panels. Therefore, they won’t get ProMotion support and won’t support the always-on screen functionality coming to the Pro variants.

The future of ProMotion

The reason why Apple isn’t ready to bring ProMotion screens to all iPhone 14 models might be the cost. But Apple might also be unable to secure all the OLED panel supply it would need to equip all four iPhone 14 models with LTPO technology. According to recent reports, LG is making LTPO OLED panels for the iPhone for the first time this year.

That’s why BOE will only make LTPS screens for the iPhone 14, and only supply panels for the cheapest model. BOE made displays for the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 as well. The same reports that said LG is finally manufacturing LTPO OLED panels for the iPhone said that BOE’s LTPO panels are below Apple’s standards for the time being.

Once more screen makers improve their LTPO OLED panel technology, it’s likely we’ll see Apple bring ProMotion features to more iPhone models, even the cheaper ones.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.