LG Display to Supply 20 Million OLED Panels for 6.1-inch 'iPhone 12'
Apple is expected to launch an all-OLED iPhone lineup this year, and while Samsung is understood to be providing the majority of the OLED panels, LG Display is reportedly poised to benefit the most from the extra demand, with Samsung's order volume rising only slightly on previous years.
Of the four new models coming this year, rumors have indicated that Samsung will supply the displays for three models: the 5.4-inch entry-level iPhone 12 and 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch "iPhone 12 Pro" models. Samsung is reportedly planning to ship 30-35 million displays for the 5.4-inch model and 15-20 million displays for each of the high-end 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch models. Meanwhile, LG Display is expected to supply 20 million displays for the low-end 6.1-inch model.
LG Display's contribution is five times the volume from the previous year, according to a new Nikkei report. That's big news for a division that has endured six consecutive quarterly losses, and LG Display believes this will improve its finances considerably in the second half of the year as its OLED panel factories begin to operate at full capacity.
It's also positive news for Apple as it aims to diversify suppliers after paying high charges for Samsung's displays. After failing to meet projected iPhone sales in the second quarter of 2020, Apple was obligated to pay Samsung an estimated $950 million for missing OLED panel purchase targets. Apple is reportedly supporting LG Display's OLED development in part to reduce procurement costs and chip away at Samsung's monopoly on the display standard.
As Nikkei notes, however, there's no guarantee that Apple will continue to favor LG Display, which supplied Apple with LCD panels for the iPhone 11 last year but failed to improve the yield of its OLED panels and fully meet delivery targets the previous summer, which reportedly angered Apple.
Rival Chinese manufacturer BOE has also improved its OLED technology in part by recruiting former Samsung engineers, and Apple has started assessing production quality at BOE plants in the Chinese cities of Chengdu and Mianyang. A previous report even suggested BOE would supply a couple of million OLED displays for the low-end 6.1-inch iPhone 12, but Nikkei's sources indicate that BOE's panels may be adopted next year, which is good news for LG Display this year, but would diminish its role as the main alternative to Samsung in 2021.