Sep 11, 2017: A report that claimed that Apple is making efforts to diversify its supply chain with panels from LG, is now seems unlikely, as LG would not enter iPhone OLED supply chain before 2019.
LG is making efforts to reach full OLED production capacity in 2019, with small batches potentially available at the end of 2018. LG is also in final stage of talks with Apple over component pricing and other details as it continues to deal with obstacles toward manufacturing capacity.
LG currently supplies Apple with OLED displays for Apple Watch. In fact, it was Apple’s sole supplier until Samsung entered the competition in 2015.
Recently LG has run into problems related to the manufacture of larger OLED panels suitable for iPhones. LG only recently procured evaporation equipment, tools that are needed for the OLED large panel production.
Vapor deposition machines manufactured by Canon Tokki, a small subsidiary of Japanese company Canon. These specialized systems called Elvess OLED use a patented camera tracking mechanism to lay down pixels with an extremely narrow margin of error.
All OLED panels in circulation are manufactured using Elvess machines, including components built by Samsung, LG and Sharp. Canon Tokki builds less than 10 units per year, leading to a backlog of orders.
To help accelerate the process, LG invested $7 billion in expanding production at its OLED factory in China. Apple has also invested $2.7 billion toward LG’s manufacturing efforts, an amount earmarked as an advance payment for OLED supply due for delivery in 2019.