If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again
BOE stung by the lack of Huawei orders got a reprieve, when Apple qualified their OLED panels as a primary supplier. The panels came from the Chengdu Gen 6 fab, which has been on-line since mid-2017 and has a capacity of 48,000 Gen 6 sheets/month. The fab is now capable of meeting Apple’s quality and volume requirements. BOE wil likely supply replacement displays for the iPhone 12, similar to how LG Display started in the early days of Apple’s OLED use. But the approval should lead to BOE supplying panels for the iPhone 13 in 2021. Qualification by Apple demonstrates that BOE is a prime flexible OLED panel supplier and is competitive with Samsung Display and LG Display. In Q220, Huawei shipped 16.2m smartphones with OLED displays, most of them coming from BOE. Given the impact of the US trade restrictions, Huawei is expected to be down 70% in 2021, which would reduce their OLED usage from ~60m to~15m, putting BOE under pressure to find new OLED panel buyers. Reports from China indicate that with yields increasing there is a glut of OLED rigid and flexible panels forcing prices down to LTPS LCD levels.