Supply Constraints Forcing Apple to Use OLED Displays Only on the iPhone 8 Plus
by Rajesh Pandey
At this point, it is all but given that Apple is considering using OLED displays on the next-generation iPhone 8. Multiple reports have suggested that the company will be using the OLED display on the larger 5.5-inch Plus model of the phone, which might also feature curved edges and a bezel-less design similar to the Galaxy S7 edge.
However, the company is having trouble procuring enough supply for the panels. A report from Bloomberg says that all the four major OLED panel makers — Samsung, LG Display, Sharp, and Japan Display — will not have enough production capacity to fulfil Apple’s OLED demand before 2018. This issue has posed a problem for Apple and will force it to use OLED displays only on the Plus model of the iPhone next year.
The report states that Samsung Display, the largest OLED panel maker in the world currently, has an exclusive agreement with Apple to supply it with OLED panels in 2017. However, due to yield and supply issues and high demand for next year’s iPhone, the South Korean company will not be able to meet Apple’s demand. The Cupertino company has already placed an order of 100 million OLED panels to Samsung for the first year of their agreement. These panels are larger than 5-inch in size which further adds credence to the rumor that only the iPhone 8 Plus next year will feature an OLED display.
“Apple has already figured in there will be high demand for the OLED model and they’ve also figured out there will be constraints to these panels,” said Dan Panzica, a supply chain analyst at IHS Markit. The combination of Apple’s stringent quality requirements and the difficulty of producing OLED panels will likely lead to supply constraints, he said.
OLED panels are thinner than LCDs and are more vibrant in nature. They also have great contrast levels because of their deep black levels. Almost all major Android OEMs have already switched over to OLED displays on their flagship handsets, though not all of them are of particularly high quality.