Apple is investing 3 trillion won ($2.7 billion, £2 billion) in LG Display to build the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays that will cover the front of future iPhones, according to a report from the Korea Economic Daily (which we saw via The Investor).
The Cupertino company is allegedly going to pay the large sum in advance to secure up to 45,000 units from the Korean display maker, which will begin production of the panels in 2019.
Apple is reportedly planning to launch a special, tenth anniversary edition iPhone later this year (in addition to the incremental “iPhone 7s” and “iPhone 7s Plus”), which will apparently be the company’s first device to use an OLED display.
Supplies of the so-called “iPhone 8” will allegedly be limited, as Apple doesn’t have access to a sufficient number of OLED displays to keep up with the usual iPhone demand. This is why the company already signed a deal with Samsung for next year, and is also looking into building a number of OLED screens by itself.
Samsung will take care of this year’s OLED displays, too, but it is allegedly opening an entirely new facility just to reorganise its supply chain based on Apple’s future requests. LG will join the Korean rival the following year, as Apple plans to replace its liquid crystal (LCD) display-equipped iPhones even on the “standard” models.
The report mentions that LG will need to build a new facility of its own, as Apple is not the only customer its display subsidiary has. Google turned to LG for the components in its new Pixel phones, and LG is expected to start the OLED panels’ production some time in 2018 after the Mountain View company invested £880 million earlier this year.