As Apple is preparing to launch its first "foldable iPhone" model, the first to be released in 2023, at the earliest, LG Display is involved in developing foldable display panels for the device, sources said Sunday.
"Given Apple's shift to actively adopt low temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) technology, and with LG Display investing to guarantee volume capacity and stabilize production yields of LTPO-based OLED panels at its E6 manufacturing line in Paju, the company's main display cluster, it's possible that LG will supply these foldable displays for Apple's new iPhone model," said a senior industry executive.
LTPO combines both LTPS TFTs and Oxide TFTs. More importantly, LTPO is applicable to both OLEDs and LCDs. From Apple's standpoint, as in ITPO, the switching display circuits are using LTPs while the driving TFTs will mainly use IGZO materials, the technology could bring power saving of between 10 percent and 14 percent to the industry's mainstream of LTPS-based panels.
The use of LTPO-based OLEDs could help Apple divorce itself from panels manufactured by Samsung and LG Display, which it currently procures because of their stable supply.
The executive, however, said given the limited volume capacity, LG Display will be a "secondary supplier" to provide panels for Apple's foldable OLED models. "Samsung and LG Display asked Apple to develop a project for the use of LTPO-based OLED displays for its new models and Apple accepted," the executive, who is knowledgeable on the matter, added.
Samsung Display's status ? top OLED panel supplier for Apple ? will remain unchanged, meaning the first Apple foldable iPhone model will use Samsung Display-manufactured LTPO-based OLED panels. But Apple is hoping LG can guarantee its volume capacity with increased production yields as a way to cut procurement costs.
An industry source said, "The general tendency is to secure multiple suppliers as a means to manage risk, whether it is for TVs or smartphones."
"This also helps bring down supply costs," the source said.
When asked to respond, LG Display said it could not comment on matters involving clients.
Apple is incorporating OLED display panels manufactured by both LG and Samsung in its latest models. The Cupertino-based company has recently started working on a foldable phone and is already making prototypes with foldable screens. While the released initial prototypes look similar to the screens used by the market leader Samsung Electronics, it's unclear whether or not Apple will adopt form factors seen in the prototypes.
There is speculation that Apple's foldable phone may feature a clamshell design like Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Z flip.
Samsung released the Galaxy Fold in 2019 and the Galaxy Flip Z the following year. Samsung currently holds a 90-percent share of the global market for foldable phones, followed by Huawei. Research firm Omdia has forecast that Apple may launch a 7.3- to 7.6-inch foldable iPhone with an OLED display and activity pen as early as 2023.
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