Panels to be LTPO TFT, two stack tandem
Samsung Display will start mass production of OLED panels for use in iPads, TheElec has learned.
The South Korean display panel maker, the main supplier of OLED panels to Cupertino for iPhones, will start production for the 11-inch model of the popular tablet, sources said.
The panels are low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) thin-film transistor (TFT) OLED panels, a technology reserved for premium products.
Samsung Display will start manufacturing the TFTs first. These components are used to turn on and off the pixels in OLED panels and are the first to be made during a panel’s production timeline.
Meanwhile, LG Display, which is a secondary supplier of OLED panels for iPhones, is already manufacturing the TFT for OLED panels it will supply to Apple for the 13-inch model of the tablet.
LG Display is also expected to start manufacturing panels for the 11-inch model sometime soon, the sources also said.
While Samsung Display also took part in the development of a 13-inch OLED panel with Apple, the company won’t be mass producing those yet. The reason for this is yet unclear.
While LG Display may seem to have an advantage at the moment, as these OLED panels are the first batch Apple will be using their yield rate is likely yet unstable.
This means Cupertino could ask Samsung Display to manufacture more if LG Display’s yield proves unsatisfactory, as it has done so in the past for iPhones.
While Samsung Display is ahead in experience for LTPO TFT OLED panels, LG Display is ahead in expertise for two stack tandem OLED panels, where the panel has two emission layers. Apple’s new iPads will adopt both technologies.
The cost of manufacturing the panels will also play a role. LG Display is manufacturing the iPad OLED panels using its factory E6-4, which is operating for the first time. This means higher cost.
Samsung Display will use its existing A3 line which has already depreciated in value which means it will cost less to manufacture the OLED panels compared to LG Display’s.
Sources said LG Display is attempting to manage costs by buying components that Apple has not told which vendor to use from Chinese companies, which offer them at more competitive prices than South Korean companies.
Meanwhile, Apple is expected to start mass production of its iPads in March for a launch in April.