BOE Offers Apple Dedicated Fab to Become a Supplier of OLEDs
December 03, 2017
BOE has reportedly presented information about 2 6th Gen flexible OLED fabs to Apple, though it's uncertain whether the BOE has made investment requests or if BOE is simply pursuing Apple on its own. Regardless, BOE would need to pass Apple production standards to qualify for orders. LG Display has likewise been pushing for
Apple orders and could even help the company build a foldable iPhone come 2020. ETNews indicated that LG holds quality and output advantages over BOE, even with the recent outburst of mura and image sticking in the V30 and Pixel 2XL
Apple had three suppliers for LCDs so its likely they would want the same number for OLEDs, with the company planning to ship 5.8- and 6.5-inch OLED iPhones next year, and eventually go OLED-only. BOE is reportedly making a full court press to gain Apple as a customer for their small/medium flexible OLED displays. The Chinese trade press has been extoling the virtues of BOE’s flexible OLED displays for months since they began phase 1 production at their Gen 6 OLED fab in Chengdu with stories intimating that South Korea’s dominance in the OLED space is over. BOE has offered to dedicate a Gen 6 fab exclusively to Apple in order to gain traction with Apple’s conversion from LCDs to OLEDs for its iPhone line. BOE has apparently offered to dedicate its Mianyang OLED fab to Apple, and potentially its B12 fab, which is in the planning stage, with the expectations that 70% of the Mianyang fab will produce flexible OLEDs, and the remaining 30% will be used for foldable OLED production., with the B12 fab split 50%/50%. Neither of these fabs has been built, with the 1st phase of the Mianyang fab scheduled for July 2019. BOE has begun to order equipment for the Mianyang fab, but is still far away from completion and even further away from commercially viable production of bendable OLED displays. The Mianyang fab, when fully completed (July 2020) will have a capacity of 48,000 Gen 6 sheets. The fabs capacity for those products to be between 15% and 25% of its stated capacity by 2020.
The newly leaked BOE’s OLED panels look very much like the iPhone X’s. The display comes in at 6.18 inches with a resolution of 2992 x 1440 pixels. The screen also has a PPI of 537 and 390 nits brightness and is made from AMOLED. BOE’s display would naturally be expected to be cheaper than Samsung’s. While BOE positions itself as the third supplier for flexible OLEDs, after Samsung and LG Display, they have not yet proven the ability to manufacture in volume or to the quality level demanded by Apple. LG Display is also trailing Samsung in performance quality and reliability when it comes to flexible OLEDs. But the race is on and it is likely that Sharp and perhaps JDI will join the fray although somewhat late. We expect that LG Display will qualify with Apple for delivery in 2019 and that the big battle will be in 2020 for the 3rd supplier. In the past Apple had 3 suppliers for its iPhone LCD panels; LG Display, Sharp and JDI.
Figure 1: BOE’s Flexible Smartphone Display Prototypes
Source: Gizmo China