Apple is expected to diversity the number of suppliers for the upcoming iPhoneâ€™s display, bringing the likes of LG and BOE into direct competition with Samsung for the iOS-powered smartphones.
The leaked information features in a note from industry analysts Barclays which highlights the upcoming role of LG in Appleâ€™s supply chain. Joe Rossignol reports:
In a research note shared with MacRumors, Barclays analysts said fellow Korean company LG will likely support OLED display production for 2019 iPhones, possibly followed by Chinese manufacturer BOE as early as 2020.
Multiple reports have indicated that Apple may tap LG and BOE as additional OLED display suppliers. Apple aims to diversify its supply chain as much as possible, often securing at least two suppliers for any given component, a strategy that reduces its supply chain risk and improves its negotiating position.
The note confirms previous reports from other sources that indicate Chinese display manufacturer BOE Technology would be joining other suppliers in providing displays for the upcoming iPhone models. That means this yearâ€™s updates to the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max will be unlikely to feature fast refresh. Apple may be looking at a 120Hz ProMotion screen from Samsung for the 2020 iPhone, but with a mix of manufacturers in 2019, the chances of the popular Android feature reaching the iOS smartphones is limited.
Pushing back this technology until the 2020 iPhone release (along with other advances, including 5G and a time of flight camera) makes next yearâ€™s iPhone look more attractive to buyers, but it leaves this yearâ€™s refresh of the handset as a boring and featureless desert of â€œitâ€™s a bit faster, itâ€™s a bit more efficient, in a way that only Apple can deliver.â€
It is in Appleâ€™s nature to play suppliers off against each other to lower the bill of materials, but in the iPhoneâ€™s display department Samsung reportedly has an exclusive on XR, XS, and XS Max displays. That gives the South Korean company power over Apple, a situation made even more uncomfortable when Apple recently missed sales targets and had to make a penalty payment to Samsung for lower order numbers.
Apple will also be conscious that Samsungâ€™s production may be hit by the brewing Japan/South Korean trade war which will put place limits on certain components required in the semiconductor and display business.
The move creates a more robust supply chain, and should allow Apple to play suppliers off against each other to get better value. But it means that the screenâ€™s specifications will be determined by the lowest specification of the supply partners, not the best.
And that means, once more, the presumptively named iPhone 11 has lost another potential feature to encourage consumers to upgrade. And with fewer upgrades, Appleâ€™s chances of reversing the falling unit sales grow ever smaller.
Now read more about the ugly design iPhone 11 users will have to tolerateâ€¦