In April, rumors started circulating that Apple was looking to add an OLED screen to next year’s iPhone for their big 10-year anniversary redesign. Trouble was, there’s only one company that can mass produce smartphone-sized OLED screens, and that company doesn’t have the friendliest of relationships with Apple. Reports from the Korean Herald and the Chinese Wall Street Journal suggested at the time that a multi-billion dollar deal had already been struck between Apple and Samsung for OLED displays, but recent reports suggest that may have been premature.
A Wall Street Journal report yesterday says that Apple is telling its existing suppliers to ramp up OLED production, possibly for curved OLED displays in next year’s iPhone, in what figures to be a bid to avoid working with Samsung. It’s not clear how the curved screen would be implemented or what purpose it would serve — it’s also possible that Apple could opt for a non-curved OLED display. It isn’t likely that the design for next year’s iPhone has been finalized, so anything is possible.
Apple could abandon the idea altogether — paying billions to Samsung would be the only sure way to make an OLED iPhone happen. Using any other supplier would risk serious production delays, and while that wouldn’t be new to Apple, the severity of those delays could be much worse than anything the iPhone has faced until now. If Apple finds paying Samsung and risking those delays to be equally unpalatable, they could stick with the LCD displays they have been using.
We’ll surely hear more about this story as the months pass — the longtime veil of secrecy that Apple once enjoyed has long since been ripped down. In the past few years, iPhone rumors have proven to be true more often than not, as more and more outlets secure reliable sources within Apple’s supply chain. If Apple does opt for an OLED display, it’ll be very hard for them to hide the kind of massive deal they’ll make with whatever company does end up supplying those displays.