This has definitely been a year full of rumors about Apple contemplating a switch to OLED displays for future iPhones and iPads. Thus far we've covered this subject matter in at least six reports (one, two, three, four, five and six) in addition to a recent Apple patent on advancing OLED technology. Today, the rumor mill is in high gear claiming that Apple is now notifying their supply chain that it will switch to OLED displays for future iterations of the iPhone.
It's being reported in a new supply chain report form the Nikkei Asian Review today that "Apple has notified supply chains that it intends to switch to OLED panels for iPhones released in 2017-2018 and is calling on display makers in Korea and Japan to begin expanding production for the technology.
We've already reported that Apple's supplier LG is investing US8.5 billion on new OLED facilities over the next 2-plus years to produce OLED display technology that will be a 'game-changer' according to LG Display's CEO Han Sang-beom.
The Nikkei Asian Review further noted that "Apple is aiming to release iPhones with OLED in 2017 but may be forced to wait until 2018 depending on supply and yield issues. Apple has been reluctant to switch to OLED because of these factors, coupled with instability dealing with the lifespan, luminosity and energy-saving capabilities small- to medium-size OLED panels currently possess." And yet we've reported on an Apple patent that shows that they're working on "extending the lifespan of OLED displays for a future iPhone." So that may not be an issue in the not-too-distant future.
The Nikkei report further noted that Apple has outlined its requirements in terms of expected specifications for the displays and supply needed to meet iPhone shipments, which are expected to continue surpassing the 200 million mark a year over the next few years.
Currently there are three main panel makers looking to compete for orders from Apple: LG Display, Japan Display (JDI) and JOLED. The report indicated that panel makers in Japan are highly concerned over Apple's reported decision since they mainly focus on LCD production and development, with LCDs accounting for roughly 80% of JDI's total business.
JDI and JOLED however are expected to increase cooperation in developing OLED, setting up new research facilities in 2016 in order to begin producing various samples. The makers expect to mass produce OLED by 2018, the report added.
Sharp may be significantly affected by Apple's move as the panel maker has currently not put much investment into developing OLED displays.
Meanwhile, reports from Korea have recently stated that Apple has been seriously considering OLED for upcoming iPhones and also reiterated a likely time-frame would fall between the years 2017-2018.