Two new competitors, who want to be part of the manufacturing process, just entered the race to create the new iPhone X 2018’s display. Samsung is in the lead, whereas LG was going to create the new 6.5-inch displays, but Sharp and Japan Display seem to be ready for battle.
Although they are enemies in sales, Samsung and Apple do not let their rivalry get in the way of any possible and beneficial commercial agreement for both of them. Throughout 2017, Samsung Display, which is the Korean brand’s division responsible for manufacturing the famous OLED displays, supplied all the panels that Apple needed for its iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. LG, Samsung’s direct rival (both are South Korean companies) did not provide a single display last year.
Two new rivals: Sharp and Japan Display
Last week, just before January 6, Korean media broke the news that Apple and LG were closing a deal for the latter to be responsible for creating the displays for this year’s iPhone models. In fact, the most curious thing about that information was that Samsung would take care of most of the production while LG would be responsible for a part of it, specifically the “6.5-inch displays”. If this turns out to be true, we will certainly see an iPhone X 2018 model this year with a huge display that none of the current high-end phones have.
But the Japanese have a saying, “business is war”. According to DigiTimes, a specialized Chinese news media, two more companies are going to try to compete directly with Samsung and LG: the Japanese companies Sharp and Japan Display. Sharp, which is owned by Foxconn, will start producing OLED panels before Japan Display, and according to DigiTimes’ sources, production will begin in the second half of the fiscal year 2018. In fact, it seems that Sharp will take advantage of the OLED displays that it manufactures and use them in some of its smartphone models for this year.
More displays, lower prices
Only in China, there are currently 13 manufacturers dedicated to create small and medium-sized OLED panels. We also have to take into account the factories in other countries, such as South Korea and Japan, which will supposedly contribute to exceed the current demand. That is, to create more displays than what the phone manufacturers need. This means that prices will go down as soon as there are more panels than phones, which is a good thing in Apple’s case because the iPhone X’s OLED panel is the most expensive component of the entire phone.
The sources at DigiTimes talk about a panel overproduction that could push prices down, but also that other devices besides phones are expected to start featuring OLED displays, which would undoubtedly offset the negative impact of stock exceeding demand.