Apple's domination of the OLED supply chain is one of the reasons why three Chinese smartphone makers are seeking out alternative display technology in future handsets, according to a report today by DigiTimes.
Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi are planning to adopt mini LED-backlit panels in smartphones launched later in 2018. The three companies believe that Apple "may extend use of AMOLED panels" to iPhones coming in 2018 and occupy even more of Samsung Display's production of the OLED displays.
Apple's entry in smartphone OLED displays began with the manufacturing of the iPhone X last year and is expected to increase in 2018 with the second-generation iPhone X and 6.5-inch "iPhone X Plus," which should lead Apple to significantly increase OLED display orders thanks to the larger size. The company has also implemented OLED displays into the Apple Watch.
Instead of attempting to fight for OLED display supply against Apple, the China-based smartphone makers are turning towards mini LED this year. The companies have reportedly asked Taiwan-based suppliers to begin producing mini LED backlighting in June 2018 in anticipation of products that would debut in the second half of 2018. Industry sources noted that technological advances in mini LED product designs have the potential to cut production costs, further boosting the smartphone makers' readiness to adopt the technology.
Besides Samsung Display, a report earlier in the month suggested that Apple will add LG Display to its OLED supply chain to help build 6.5-inch panels for the iPhone X Plus. Samsung was the sole OLED supplier for the iPhone X in 2017, and it's predicted that the company will increase supply of OLED panels to Apple with between 180 and 200 million OLED displays in 2018 (for the 5.8-inch device), up from an estimated 50 million in 2017.