Apple's 2020 Top Tier iPhones will Reportedly use Samsung's Thinner Y-OCTA On-Cell Flexible OLED Displays
With Apple's 2019 iPhones barely out of production, we can expect the next round of speculation about new features for Apple's 2020 iPhones to begin rolling out from Apple's rumor mill led by crystal ball reader Ming-Chi Kuo.
Common questions about the 2020 iPhones include, will the the future iPhones dump the notch or reduce it? Will they offer 90 or 120 Hz refresh rates? Will the backside camera bump ever go away? Will Touch ID behind the display be offered as a secondary biometrics option?
The rumor mill is in full swing this morning in a South Korean report that states it's expected that the OLED displays for 2020 iPhones will be coming from South Korean display manufacturers Samsung and LG.
While there is a high chance that BOE, which had drawn some attention this summer will suffer a sad defeat as South Korean display manufacturers will continue to enjoy being the sole OLED suppliers of Apple. This news confirms once again that South Korea is far ahead of China when it comes to mobile displays.
According to the industry, the 2020 iPhone models will come with displays sized 5.4-inch, 6.1-inch, and a new 6.7-inch. While a fourth model will offer 5G, it's unknown what display size it will be offered in."
The report further added that "It is understood that Samsung Display will be the sole supplier of 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch OLED panels. Specifically, it will supply on-cell touch flexible OLED panels.
This panel is basically an OLED panel that has touch function built in. Touch sensor is placed on top of thin film encapsulation inside of a panel. Touch function in the past attaches a touch film on a panel. Because on-cell touch OLED panel does not require a separate film, it can lead to a thinner display and reduce production cost.
Samsung Display succeeded in commercializing on-cell touch OLED panel, which is called ‘Y-OCTA’ technology according to Samsung Display, when it supplied the panel to Samsung Electronics.
Because Apple saw the strengths of on-cell touch OLED panel and Samsung Display is the only company that can mass-produce this panel, Apple has requested supplies of 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch OLED panels from Samsung Display."
An industy expert told the publication that "Although Apple had been sticking with film touch method since its first iPhone, Samsung Display has succeeded in drawing a change from Apple by actively promoting Y-OCTA technology to Apple. It is heard that Samsung Display also suggested shocking terms in order to obtain an order from Apple."
Whether the "flexible OLED panels" will translate to at least one iPhone model offering displays with curved edges as their recently granted patent suggests is unknown at this time.
The Korean report further added that iPhones with the 6.1-inch OLED panels will be supplied by both Samsung Display and LG Display as this won't use the on-cell touch OLED panel but rather be based on the traditional film touch method.
Samsung Display, which had been the only supplier of OLED panels for Apple, has prepared itself to continue its dominance in 2020 as well while LG Display is looking to gain some ground on Samsung Display.
In fact LG Display began supplying OLED panels for the new ‘iPhone 11 Pro Max.’ If LG Display is able raise its productivity in unit cost and production yield, it will be able to gain more orders from Apple in 2020.
Being a Korean publication, the ETNews report (in-part propaganda) was to purposely sideline Chinese display maker BOE as a loser. The report noted that "Apple is most likely not going to be an OLED panel supplier for Apple’s models in 2020. BOE has come to the surface as a potential supplier of 6.1-inch OLED panel as it has participated in projects for the development of iPhones." In fact a couple of supply chain rumors dis surface over the course of the summer claiming that Apple was working with BOE (see 01 and 02) on supplying OLED displays for future iPhones.
The Korean publication doubled down by further downplaying BOE as an Apple supplier by stating that "there is a high chance that it will not be included as a supplier this time due to slow progress in development and production yield. If BOE is eliminated, it will be likely that Samsung Display and LG Display will divide the supply of 6.1-inch OLED panels.
While the Korean report negatively spoke of BOE in terms of "if" or "high chance" and "not likely" to win display orders from Apple because of their "slow progress," the fact is that a report published just yesterday states that Market research firm IHS Markit estimates that BOE will become the world's largest supplier of AMOLED display panels this year surpassing LG. So much for having production yield problems.
BOE is also the supplier of next-gen foldable displays for Huawei's Mate X, Motorola's Razr and has been working with Lenovo on their 2020 ThinkPad X1 foldable-display based notebook.
BOE is quickly becoming a major OLED display manufacturer and one that is gaining support from device makers for their work on foldable displays.
At the end of the day, Samsung and LG are likely to be the big winners for Apple's 2020 iPhone 12 models, but I'm not quite sure we can write BOE out of the picture just yet.