Apple to use BOE as leverage to cut unit prices from Samsung and LG
Apple has given BOE conditional approval to supply OLED panels for the iPhone 13 series, TheElec has learned.
Cupertino has given the Chinese display giant a risk order, also known as conditional approval.
It is usually given when a display supplier fails to meet 100% of its customer’s requirements.
They are usually given time to solve the issue before being able to supply their products to the customer.
If they fail to meet the requirements again, they will need to go through the whole approval process again.
Set makers like Apple give risk orders for components they wish to sell only at a specific region or want sufficient stock of the components for their initial product batches.
Panel production takes between two to three months. So even if BOE gets the final approval, it will likely only supply a small volume of the panels for iPhone 13.
For Apple, including BOE in its OLED panel supply chain gives it more leverage to cut unit prices of panels from Samsung Display and LG Display.
BOE is currently manufacturing OLED panels for iPhone 13 at its B11 line at Sichuan Province in China, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Last year, the firm received approval from Apple for OLED panels going into iPhone 12 for its B7 line, also at Sichuan Province. It also received module approval for the B11 line.
B11 was planned as a line dedicated to Apple but had a low yield rate, so B7 was pushed as the line for the OLED panel.
It has received approval to supply panels for refurbished iPhone 12 and is now also manufacturing panels for new iPhone 12 phones, the people said. BOE supplies 6.06-inch OLED panels for the standard iPhone 12.
The Chinese company is also aiming to supply 6.06-inch OLED panels for the standard iPhone 13 model this year.
The phone has identical specs to the standard iPhone 12.
However, BOE had difficulty in getting down the emitting material characteristics and touch electrode during Apple’s approval process in the first half of this year.
The people said the risk order likely came from these problems.
Apple is also planning to apply low temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) OLED panels on at least one of the four models planned for iPhone 14.
BOE has also been supplying the iPhone maker with LTPS OLED panels.
Apple used low temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) for the first in the two higher tier models of iPhone 13 this year. The two lesser tier models used LTPS OLED panels.
LTPO TFT supports 120Hz refresh rate, and Samsung Display was the sole supplier of the panels.
LG Display is also eyeing LTPO TFT OLED panel supply to Apple for the first time in 2022.
BOE will only be able to manufacture the panels in 2023 at the earliest.