LG Display might not be able to supply Apple with displays for its iPhones sooner than 2019

- Adrian Ungureanu

As you probably know, Apple decided to use OLED displays starting with the new generation of iPhones that will be launched in autumn, a decision which got LG Display out of the picture.

LG Display has been supplying LCDs for the iPhone over the past decade but the lucrative business is at risk as Apple plans to use OLED for all new iPhones from next year starting with the partial adoption this year. Samsung is currently the sole panel supplier and was granted a 2-year contract for 9 billion dollars.

Initially it was planned that LG will start supplying Apple with OLED panels in 2018, but now LG Display is expected to face further delay as it is still struggling to ramp up the yield rate that meets Apple’s strict criteria.

According to industry sources on April 26, the company’s OLED shipment for iPhone could start from as early as 2019, about a year’s delay from previously planned.

“Even Samsung Display is struggling to meet Apple’s requirements,” Jang Hyun-jun, an analyst at UBI Research, told The Investor, adding due to the tricky panel production the upcoming iPhone could miss some highly-anticipated features such as bezelless screen and on-screen fingerprint scanning.

Despite its leadership in larger OLED for TVs, the display-making unit of LG Group has remained a minor player in the smartphone panel market that is dominated by its compatriot rival Samsung Display with more than 95 percent market share.

After years of preparations, the company plans to start producing OLED panels from the third quarter, possibly in August, but the first shipment will go to its sister firm LG Electronics and China’s Xiaomi, not Apple.

“Apple is hoping to diversify its OLED suppliers but is unwilling to compromise on product quality,” the analyst said. “The iPhone maker will decide a secondary supplier after closely monitoring LG’s yield rate in the initial phase.”