Apple iPhone

Analyst firm: New iPhone will accelerate transition from LCD to OLED

05 Jul 2017 | Rasmus Larsen |

Signs point to Apple adopting OLED display technology in a new iPhone. This will significantly accelerate the market transition from LCD to OLED displays, one analyst company says. Display makers in Korea, China and Japan are already investing billions of dollars in new factories.

OLED will be mainstream by 2020

Analyst firm Witsview estimates that 50% of all smartphones sold globally in 2020 will feature an OLED display, which will make the new technology mainstream. iPhone will be a catalyst in this transition from LCD to OLED.

- ”Apple’s move has been closely watched by its competitors. The reveal of the next iPhone’s specifications has accelerated the deployment of AMOLED displays for other smartphone brands. Panel makers, especially those from China, are hastily building up their AMOLED manufacturing capacity as well,”, said Boyce Fan, Research Director at WitsView.

Apple adopting OLED in iPhone will affect all layers of the supply chain. Plants that are designed to produce OLED displays for smartphones can also produce screens for watches, tablets, and in some instances laptops, if production capacity allows. OLED TVs are produced at larger production lines.

OLED forecast

New plants in Korea, Kina & Japan

LG.Display will start mass production at a new 6-gen plant – under the name E5 – for production of small-to-medium size panels in the second half of 2017. It will allow LG to challenge Samsung who is currently responsible for over 95% of all production of small-size OLED panels that are primarily used in the Galaxy devices.

Korea Herald reports that Apple is considering investing 1.75 to 2.62 billion dollars in a new OLED factory – under the name E6 – at LG.Display that will be dedicated to iPhone. Google has reportedly also shown interest in investing in the plant.

- “Samsung Display is the only display maker that meets Apple’s strict quality criteria for now,” an anonymous source told the Korea Herald. “LG Display is said to be meeting about 70 percent level of the requirements, while Chinese display makers are still struggling to catch up with that of LG.”

Korean newspaper ETNews reports that Samsung is planning to build the world’s largest OLED plant – under the tentative name A5 – with a goal to start mass production in 2019. It will be capable of producing between 180.000 to 270.000 substrates per month. Each substrate can be cut into smaller OLED panels. Investments could reach 21 billion dollars, claims ETNews.

Analyst firm WitsView adds that Chinese display makers such as BOE and Tianma have decided to repurpose production lines originally intended for LCD to be capable of producing OLED. Further investments in China are expected in the near future.

Also Japan’s Sharp, in which Foxconn owns a majority stake, will start production of small-to-medium size OLED panels in order to enter into the iPhone supply chain. Japan Display, a joint venture between Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba, is seeking capital to ramp up investments in OLED.

Apple is rumored to debut three new iPhones this fall, one of which will feature an OLED display.

- Source: WitsView, Korea Herald, ETNews

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