An escalating trade war between Japan and South Korea could make Chinese manufacturer BOE Technology a "strong contender" for OLED display orders from Apple, according to industry sources who spoke with DigiTimes.
Samsung has been the undisputed leader in OLED display manufacturing, and as a result it has reportedly been the exclusive supplier of OLED displays for the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max, but the industry sources cited believe the Japanese-Korean trade row could upend its monopoly position.
Apple aims to diversify its supply chain as much as possible, often securing at least two suppliers for any given component, but Samsung's lead in OLED display manufacturing has left it with few alternatives so far.
LG, for example, reportedly temporarily halted one of its OLED display production lines due to manufacturing challenges earlier this year. LG already supplies OLED displays for the Apple Watch and is widely expected to become a secondary supplier of OLED displays for iPhones when capable to.
With at least one of BOE or LG joining the mix, Apple is poised to reduce its supply chain risk and improve its negotiating position.
Update: In related news, representatives from tech giants including Apple have traveled to South Korea to measure the impact of the trade war between Japan and South Korea, according to The Korea Herald. The tech giants are said to be "especially worried" about the possible impact on Samsung's DRAM production.