Looks Like OLEDs For iPhones Are Still Really Hard To Make

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty)

After last year's delayed iPhone X release, Apple is trying to snag a few extra screens for its 2018 batch of iPhones. Unfortunately, the company is apparently running into trouble with its OLED display manufacturing partners, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Apple has turned to LG's display division, a leading producer of OLED displays for televisions, in order to break its dependence on Samsung - its current supplier for the iPhone X's display. But this strategy is reportedly not going as planned, due to some setbacks on LG's part.

The latest rumours say Apple is planning to release a handful of new iPhones this year, including 15cm and 18cm models, both of which would have OLED displays. OLED displays can be controlled at the pixel level, which results in better black levels and more precise power management. OLEDs also tend to have better colour saturation than traditional LCD displays. Only, these displays can be very tricky to produce.

That's where LG would come in, if it wasn't dealing with production delays, reportedly forcing Apple to solely stick with Samsung. The problem lies in the manufacturing process. Apple needs smaller, power-efficient displays, which require a different manufacturing process from the one LG uses to create its larger OLED panels. Apple is also putting LG Display through multiple rounds of prototype production for the potential iPhone OLED displays - an unorthodox move according to the Wall Street Journal's sources.

Apple needs to look for other suppliers, as the display is one of the most costly components on the entire device according to consultancy firm Fomalhaut Techno Solutions, which told Wall Street Journal that displays represent "about $US97 ($126) out of $US376 ($487) in total estimated cost per device." Cutting that number down a bit could allow Apple to sell the $US999 ($1,295) iPhone X for cheaper, or offer consumers more affordable leasing options.

On the other hand, it might just make it easier for Apple to pad its pockets with an even higher profit margin. Since the third rumoured iPhone will apparently feature a 15cm LCD display, a manufacturing slowdown might not affect Apple's bottom line too much.

[Wall Street Journal]

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