If you buy a smartphone that has an OLED screen in it today, odds are that the panel is made by one of two South Korean tech giants: Samsung or LG. However, there is some fresh competition brewing in China. Chinese manufacturer BOE Technology Group is looking to become a supplier for OLED screens to Apple according to a new report.
BOE is already a giant in producing LCDs and already has an "in" with Apple because it makes displays for iPads and MacBooks. BOE won't be able to supply Apple with OLED screens in the near term; the company is said to be at least a few years out. People claiming to be familiar with BOE's plans say that the earliest that the Chinese firm could start supplying OLEDs to Cupertino would be in 2020.
The iPhone devices with OLED displays that will launch this year will use screens mostly from Samsung with a few from LG Display thrown in the mix. If a deal was made between Apple and BOE, it would be the first time Apple procured OLEDs from a company outside of South Korea or Japan. Apple is big on pushing down costs for OLEDs since they are one of the most expensive components of the iPhone X.
Apple has tried to get its primary supplier, Samsung, to reduce the cost of the panels in the past. Chinese manufacturing tends to be less expensive than components made elsewhere and if BOE can offer OLEDs at lower prices it's hard to imagine Apple not snapping up the deal. BOE does have to prove that it can make OLEDs in the volume that Apple needs while maintaining high levels of quality. BOE reportedly has two AMOLED factories with one opening last summer and another set to open in a few years. BOE expects to make 1.6 million