Apple’s alternative iPhone 14 display supply runs into problems
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After struggling for years to escape Samsung’s near-monopoly on OLED display supply for its iPhones, Apple is poised to struggle some more. Just when it thought that its second alternative iPhone display supplier, BOE, is ready to hit 20% share in its screen supply chain, thus reducing the cut of Samsung and LG’s expensive panels to 60% and 20%, respectively, now comes the revelation that it can’t.
Apparently, there are simply not enough chips to provide both BOE and LG with the quantity of display drivers for iPhones they ordered, and LX Semicon’s priority will now go to ensuring LG’s iPhone OLED display production first. If the BOE supply chain disruption persists in both February and March, it may barely be able to hit a 10% share of Apple’s iPhone OLED display production, let alone the planned 20%.
The up-and-coming Chinese OLED makers from BOE have also been in the running for the 6.1″ iPhone 12’s OLED display, but used to deliver poor yields with sufficient quality, leaving Apple with only Samsung and a sprinkle of LG as OLED production sources.
Last year, however, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 units in circulation were graced with much more panels that are not of Samsung origin, and that trend will most likely only be intensifying going forward, until Apple decides it needs to make a foldable iPhone, then all supplier diversification bets are off.
Until the iPhone 12 batches, Apple had only rarely tested the waters with LG OLED displays, as small and medium sized ones are not the company’s strong suit, unlike big TV panels. Instead, it relegated LG to secondary display supply functions for iPhone screen replacements or wearables like the Apple Watch. Ditto for the BOE’s iPhone panels, but now the rumors are that LG has mastered its LTPO OLED display technology enough to earn Apple’s trust for both the iPhone 14 Max and iPhone 14 Pro displays.