We’re still awaiting the first OLED iPhone to ship with the iPhone X in less than a month, and new rumors are surfacing about a future iPhone with a foldable display. According to The Bell via The Investor, Apple is working with LG and not Samsung to create an iPhone with a foldable OLED panel.
The report suggests that Apple’s rivalry with Samsung and concern over leaking may be a deciding factor in choosing suppliers.
The report claims that the panel production will start from 2020 that may mean Apple could postpone its iPhone launch that year. However, the report adds that foldable display panel production for iPhones may start by early 2019.
The iPhone X is the first Apple mobile device to use an OLED panel, but that is made by Samsung Display, the current world leader in producing smartphone screens using that technology.
So it's interseting to see that Apple hasn't turned to Samsung's display making arm for its foldable iPhone project, choosing its arch-rival from Korea instead.
The report says that the Cupertino tech giant has been strengthening its partnership with its long-time LCD partner LG Display "amid Samsung's near monopoly in mobile OLED production." UBI Research said Samsung would hold 89% of AMOLED (active matrix OLED) display panel market in 2017.
The report adds that Samsung can be expected to be supplier of displays for Apple next year too.
LG is said to be working on a new production plan in Paju, South Korea, dubbed E6. Some sources claim that Aplle may invest in LG's new plant to beef up OLED panel production though details are yet to be finalised.
Even last year, Piper Jaffray's senior analyst Gene Munster said, "If Samsung were to launch a foldable smartphone in 2017, we believe Apple would likely not follow suit until 2019 at the earliest."
As for flexible OLED panels, the report notes that Samsung may introduce its first smartphone to use the technology as soon as next year while Apple doesn’t expect to bring the technology into production through LG until 2020 which may mean a 2021 launch.
Similar reports about Apple working with LG on the foldable OLED panel surfaced a year ago. Note that the foldable display technology is different from the current bendable OLED technology which supports pressure sensitive input but not actual folding.