Samsung has been the biggest supplier of OLED displays to Apple ever since the latter made the switch to OLED panels for the iPhone in 2017. That’s because no other display manufacturer has the scale and the quality that Samsung is able to provide its customers.
That’s not to say that they haven’t been trying to catch up. China’s BOE Display has been particularly hard at work trying to bridge the massive gap with Samsung. Reports claim that it may have its sights on one of Samsung’s most lucrative contracts.
China’s BOE may take away a chunk of that Apple cash
Even if the premium iPhone models do well, the ones that directly compete against Samsung’s flagships, Samsung still stands to make billions of dollars because Apple has to source the majority of OLED panels from it. Apple even paid a $684 million penalty to Samsung for not meeting its minimum order quantity for the iPhone displays.
On the other hand, Apple has been trying to diversify its OLED supply chain because unless there’s some competition for its order, the company doesn’t have much leverage to negotiate on prices with Samsung. It has already been asking Samsung for lower prices but the Korean company may not be too accommodating to the idea.
BOE recently became the world’s top supplier of TV LCD panels. It has also been making significant investments in OLED production. It’s now said to have its sights on the Apple order. Apple would have no reason not to source iPhone screens from BOE if the OLED panels are able to meet its stringent requirements and BOE is able to guarantee significant output.
Reports suggest that by 2021, BOE may be shipping 45 million OLED panels for iPhone, which means that Samsung will be shipping 45 million fewer units to Apple. While it would still sell a significant number of panels to Apple, Samsung’s leverage over Apple would be reduced as the company diverts more orders to both BOE and LG Display. There’s obviously a fair bit of speculation here, but all of this is quite possible.