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Apple Invests 'Tens of Millions' in Next-Gen Flexible Printed Circuit Board Production Equipment for iPhone 8

1AF X99 2 -  cover APPLE IPHONE pricing

Patently Apple has been following the news of the iPhone 8 using an OLED display but more importantly using it conjunction with next-gen Flexible Printed Circuit Boards known as RFPCB from Korean Suppliers. We posted four reports on the matter starting in December 2016 (one, two, three and four). It began to emerge that the RFPCB's would provide the iPhone 8 with embedded multitouch technology and that it would deliver a larger and higher-end display than Samsung's S8 that covers 83.6% of the smartphone's face.

 

Today we're learning that Apple recently purchased pricey production equipment for the flexible printed circuit board, a key part for its upcoming OLED iPhone that connects chips with key parts such as the display screen and camera. 

 

The purchase, worth tens of millions of dollars, has raised questions in the industry. Apple doesn't own a production plant to install the equipment and more importantly it had planned to secure the parts, more widely called RFPCB, from three suppliers. 

 

According to the Korean report, Apple is leasing the equipment to suppliers to make sure it can get the parts it needs. The source for the story stated that one of the three suppliers recently decided to back out because they felt a pinch on the tricky production and strict quality requirements along with low profitability.

 

The RFPCB is an upgraded version that is more difficult to make compared to the conventional rigid or flexible PCB. Apple will use the parts for the touch screen panel of the new iPhone, tentatively called iPhone 8.

 

"To fill the loss, Apple is supporting the other two suppliers, both Korean, to beef up production," the sources said.

 

This year, Apple is expected to order 100 million units of RFPCB. While Korea's Interflex and Youngpoong Electronics share the orders, Apple is also seeking to find a new supplier in the country.

 

Sources say Korean suppliers will dominate Apple orders for some time considering their experience and know-how.

 

10.3 Rumors - Supply Chain +

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