Samsung Display may not remain the sole provider of flexible OLED panels for iPhone X for much longer if Apple cuts a multi-billion dollar deal with BOE, China’s top display vendor.
Korean publication ETNews said this morning that BOE is showing Apple it can deliver OLEDs in volume by planning to dedicate not one, but two OLED production lines to the iPhone display.
“Its plan is to satisfy Apple, which is thirsty for supply and demand of OLED, by constructing large-scale production lines exclusively for Apple,” reads the report.
BOE’s executives reportedly visited Apple recently to share their business plan. Under this plan, the Chinese company would use its B11 production line located in Sichuan and the B12 facility that’s currently in an investment process as production lines exclusively for Apple.
BOA is apparently planning to invest to the tune of 46.5 billion yuan, or about $7.04 billion, into the B11 line. Apple did not comment on the report. Although BOE has not finalized its investments for the B12 line, it is likely that it will be constructed in Chongqing.
BOE showed off its technical skills by holding an event last month to commemorate shipping of its products while unveiling a prototype panel similar to the notch cutout on iPhone X.
The Cupertino firm prefers to source components from multiple suppliers to reduce its exposure to any particular supplier. With iPhone X, however, Apple has been relying on Samsung Display for OLED panels due to Samsung’s proven manufacturing expertise, production capacity and its commanding 90+ share of the OLED smartphone panel market.
The iPhone maker has also made multi-billion dollar investments in upcoming OLED production facilities that will be operated by LG Display and Sharp, but those facilities won’t be able to start producing iPhone OLEDs in volume until late 2018 or early 2019.