Apple Inc. and Chinese supplier BOE Technology Group Co. are in talks regarding the supply of the next generation of iPhone screens.
BOE’s active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens have reportedly been used by Apple in numerous tests over the last several months. If Apple approves then BOE could become the newest screen supplier for the next gen of Apple devices, along with Samsung, LG, Sharp, and Japan Display.
The possible deal with BOE would not affect the ‘iPhone 8’, scheduled for release later this year, but would be a likely option for the device’s successor, rumoured to be released in 2018.
James Yan, research director for Counterpoint Research in Beijing told Bloomberg: “It’s an opportunity for BOE as Apple is known to seek multiple suppliers for one component.”
“But it’s unlikely to challenge Samsung because it is able to roll out high-quality screens at a steady capacity.”
If BOE is chosen as the supplier for the 2018 iPhone it will become the first from outside of Japan or South Korea. The company is already one of China’s largest screen producers and has recently invested an extra $14 billion on two new OLED manufacturing plants.
Currently there is a growing demand for phone displays as they are one of the most expensive parts to produce, making Apple bound to its suppliers. The New BOE factory will open this summer, and the second a few years later, BOE estimates that it will be able to create 1.6 million square metres of flexible glass when the first factory is fully operational.
In November there was speculation over a possible struggle for Apple to meet demand for the upcoming 2017 iPhone. The company will be exclusively procuring OLED screens from Samsung in 2017 and working with LG, Sharp, and Japan Display in 2018.
Some analysts estimate that as many as 90 million iPhones could be sold in the last three months of 2017.