A new report says that Apple is about to sign yet another huge OLED supply deal for the iPhone 8 and future models. It’s great news for Apple, but the deal could have a big negative impact on competitors, including Google’s Pixel, in the years to come.
After news broke that Samsung is planning to build a pair of massive OLED factories to deal with the increasing demand coming from Apple, it appears that Apple and LG are working on a huge exclusive OLED deal. According to The Korea Herald, Apple is prepared to invest between 2 and 3 trillion won ($1.75 billion to $2.62 billion) in LG’s new OLED production lines, which will exclusively manufacture OLED screens for the iPhone.
The two companies have apparently agreed on the investment, although the details aren’t set in stone and the final decision is pending an LG board meeting set to take place later this month.
Similar reports emerged a few months ago, saying that Google would be ready to commit as much as one trillion won to make sure its future Pixel phones will not run into any OLED screen supply issues. That deal was yet to be finalized, and it’s unclear if LG’s pending deal with Apple might have any impact on a similar partnership with Google.
Since then we learned that LG might be manufacturing the Pixel 2 XL, a phone that should sport an all-screen design, and make use of OLED screens.
Samsung Display is the undisputed leader in the OLED supply market, owning as much as 95% of the smartphone OLED market. Companies including LG Display and China-based smartphone display makers are looking to expand OLED manufacturing operations.
After launching its first OLED iPhone this year, Apple is expected to move all iPhone models to OLED in the coming years, which is why LG and other suppliers might be looking to ink deals with the iPhone maker. Currently, Samsung is believed to be the only OLED screen supplier for the iPhone 8, and the company is expected to mass produce tens of millions of screens for Apple. But Apple will need more OLED supply in the coming years.
“Samsung Display is the only display maker that meets Apple’s strict quality criteria for now,” a source told the paper. “LG Display is said to be meeting about 70 percent level of the requirements, while Chinese display makers are still struggling to catch up with that of LG.”
LG’s E6 plant that would manufacture only iPhone OLED screens should start production as early as 2019. That’s exactly when Samsung’s new OLED factories will also go into OLED screen production.
The report notes that LG’s E5 facility will make OLED screens for LG’s own phones and Chinese clients. The Pixel isn’t mentioned, but if Apple manages to get the bulk of Samsung and LG OLED display production, things won’t be looking good for Google, a company that’s hardly known for being able to master supply chains for its Nexus and Pixel phones.