Just when we thought were starting to get a handle on Apple’s 2017 iPhone lineup, a new Bloomberg report relays that Apple’s OLED supplier will likely not be able to meet the demand that Apple is anticipating when it releases what will presumably be called the iPhone 8 next September.
Though there a handful of OLED suppliers out there, it’s believed that Samsung inked a deal to be the exclusive provider of OLED panels for the iPhone 8. Having said that, Samsung’s production capacity will reportedly be heavily constrained and may remain an ongoing issue in early 2018.
As for how this will affect Apple’s upcoming iPhone lineup, here’s what we know so far. According to reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s product roadmap involves releasing three new iPhone models next year, a 4.7-inch iPhone 8 with an LCD screen, a 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus with an LCD screen and a premium 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus with an OLED panel.
So while the aforementioned OLED supply issue won’t impact what will likely be Apple’s two more popular iPhone 8 models, news that Apple’s premium iPhone 8 model will be in short supply is nonetheless disappointing. The shortage will have a detrimental impact on Apple’s bottom line as it stands to reason that the margins on the premium 5.5-inch handset will be the highest across the company’s next-gen iPhone lineup.
While OLED panels are thinner and offer richer and more vibrant colors than LCD panels, they’re also technically more challenging to manufacture, thus resulting in disappointing yields.
OLED screens are more difficult to produce, putting Apple at the mercy of suppliers that are still working to manufacture the displays in mass quantities, the people said. The four largest producers are Samsung Display Co., LG Display Co., Sharp Corp., and Japan Display Inc. While Samsung is on track to be the sole supplier for the new displays next year, the South Korean company may not be able to make enough due to low yield rates combined with increasing iPhone demand.
Apple’s deal with Samsung is said to call for deliveries of 100 million OLED panels in 2017, a figure the company will reportedly struggle and fail to meet.
What remains unknown at this is point is whether or not Apple’s non-OLED iPhone 8 models will be graced with the rumored edgeless display we’ve been hearing so much about lately. Hopefully that’s not the case, but given that the edgeless display is said to be curved, it’s entirely possible that only the OLED iPhone 8 model will house the exciting new design.