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Apple Turns to Chinese Firm for OLED Screens

Apple is reported to be getting closer to signing off on the company’s first-ever order for OLED iPhone screens from a Chinese company, BOE. Apple has so far been dependent on Samsung for the advanced OLED panels used in the iPhone X family of phones, a situation Apple has been working hard to change.

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The Nikkei, citing sources, said that Apple was “aggressively testing” BOE’s flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, adding the company would decide by the end of the year whether to take the company on as a supplier of the panels. The move is aimed at cutting costs and reducing Apple’s reliance on Samsung, the Nikkei reported.

Samsung has enjoyed a significant technological lead in advanced flexible OLED panels and was the only company able to meet Apple’s requirements for the iPhone X/XS in terms of both quality and volume production. Neither US nor Japanese companies have so far been able to meet Apple’s exacting needs.

This left Apple forced to place all its orders with the company, a situation the iPhone maker normally tries to avoid for reasons of both risk and negotiating power. Indeed, the power balance was tipped so strongly in Samsung’s favor that Apple reportedly ended up owing Samsung more than $170 million in penalties for failing to hit promised order levels.

Apple has managed to bring another Korean company, LG, online for this year’s iPhones, in part by fronting $2.7 billion to enable the company to create production lines specifically for Apple orders.

We’re expecting two of this year’s three new iPhones to have OLED screens, the successor to the iPhone XS and XS Max. The third model is expected to continue the iPhone XR tradition of sticking to a cheaper LCD screen.


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James J

James has been writing about tech since 2009 after spending 25 years in a computer research lab studying and improving the future of computers. He watches Netflix sci-fi with his pet, enjoying spicy snacks.
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