Yesterday we posted a report titled "Rumor Claims that Apple Could Sign an Exclusive iPhone OLED Display Contract with Samsung," wherein we noted that Samsung will exclusively get the initial orders from Apple in late 2017 for the flagship lines. Samsung will be the only source that could meet Apple's initial iPhone orders and the only source that could provide Apple with ability to extend OLED displays through to the iPad, MacBooks and beyond in a timely manner. Though beyond the initial iPhone orders, Apple will have other OLED display sources coming on board in 2018 and beyond such as Japan's JDI and Foxconn-Sharp by 2020. The second supplier that is likely to be signed on with Apple is LG.
The news that Apple was close to signing a deal with LG first surfaced back in December. Today we're learning that LG could be on track to deliver OLED displays to Apple by 2018. According to a new report this morning, LG Display is making a facility investment into flexible OLEDs during the second quarter of this year and it's one that's being pushed ahead of schedule by about 6 months. It is going to place an order for its facilities at the latest by first half of this year so that it can start mass-producing flexible OLEDs in first half of next year.
The report notes that "There is a high chance that products for iPhones will be produced at these facilities, and industries are predicting that LG Display will finish technical discussion with Apple and sign an official contract regarding supply of panels in second half of this year."
We posted a report back in November titled "Apple has Reportedly Notified their Supply Chain of its Plan to Switch to OLED Displays in Future iPhones." That sudden announcement apparently caught Apple's display supply chain by surprise. LG got caught flat footed as they were the leading supplier of IPS LCDs for Apple's devices and weren't expecting Apple to make such a surprising shift in a very short span of time to OLED that it was dead set against for technical reasons for years.
LG tried to accelerate their OLED display plans but Samsung outsmarted them. The needed organic deposition equipment to make the switch to OLED comes from Japan's TOKKI and Samsung gave TOKKI orders that jammed their production up for the next 3 years which initially locked LG out.
Through tough negotiations, LG has been able to work out a deal to receive partial orders for the needed equipment to get them up and running in their new OLED facilities. That could put them on track for Apple orders beginning in mid-2018 or 2019 if there are any delays.
The good news, according to LG, is that they have game changing OLED technology that they'll be bringing to market. While LG has yet to reveal exactly what that game changing technology will bring to the table, some speculate that it will be able to advance automotive heads-up-displays and the other twist is being able to deliver large highly flexible displays. A part of the latter advantage was displayed last month in our report titled "LG Introduces Next-Gen Wraparound OLED Solutions that could lead to Cool Future Smart Device Designs."
Apple's initial vision of a future smart watch was revealed back in 2013. The initial form factor was one in the form of wraparound bracelet as noted in Apple's patent figure presented above. At the time, displays were unable to be produced in such a configuration until now. So while Samsung definitely got the leap on LG for Apple's initial OLED based iPhone displays, LG will be coming on board shortly thereafter and may even assist Apple in delivering next generation device designs that are truly exciting.