Apple isn't selling nearly as many of the high-end iPhone X smartphones that it wanted to sell and was allegedly forced to halve production on weak demand in Q1 2018. Samsung has been left scrambling to find someone to buy the OLEDs Apple isn’t using. As Apple sees it, the answer to selling more iPhones with OLED screens is to hammer the price of the OLED panels down.
Reports indicate that for the iPhone X, the OLED screen is about a third of the total production cost of the device. Apple is beating on Samsung Display, the primary OLED supplier for the iPhone X, to lower prices on the panels according to sources. Apple wants Samsung Display to slash the price of each screen to $100, a $10 discount from the $110 per panel it paid in 2017. A $10 savings seems scant, but it is a big deal to Apple, a company famous for requiring fat profit margins on devices.
Apple is predicted to buy as many as 100 million OLED panels from Samsung Display this year with 25 million slated for iPhone X production and the remainder for new iPhone models to launch this year. The sources claim that new OLED iPhones will include a 5.8-inch model and a 6.5-inch model. A larger iPhone X Plus screen display did leak earlier this year hinting at one of the new models expected.
Samsung Display posted positive quarterly profits this week, but has warned of slow growth on weak demand for OLED panels supplied to Apple for the iPhone X. Samsung also pointed to overall weakness in the smartphone market as a reason for slowing earnings in the months to come.
Interestingly, while Samsung is warning of slow growth in part due to poor OLED demand and slow smartphone sales, OLED Rival LG Display is booming with record profits. LG announced record earnings for its first quarter with $2.3 billion in operating profit, which represents a massive 88% jump. Much of that profit lies at the feet of the entertainment arm that has focused heavily on OLED TVs. LG Display shipped 1.7 million OLED TV panels late last year.