Chinese display giant BOE is aiming to win Apple’s order for display panels, for both of its OLED factory lines, people familiar with the matter told TheElec on Tuesday.
The company operates two OLED lines __ the B11 line and B7 line __ at Sichuan, China. It is planning to use both lines for a potential supply deal for iPhones, the people said.
B11, which went live last year, was planned as a line dedicated to Apple. B7, which began operations in 2017, has been mostly used to supply OLED panels for Chinese smartphone vendors. Both lines produce 6th-generation OLED panels.
BOE aimed to use the B11 line to supply OLED panels for Apple’s iPhone 12, which is launching later this year. But the line only had a yield rate of around 20%, the people said, and the company failed to win the order.
The B7 line, however, has a yield rate between 70% to 80%. The company has been using the line to supply OLED panels to Huawei and other Chinese vendors.
But Huawei is expected to see lowered smartphone shipment dues to US sanctions that prevents it from suing Google’s Android operating system and focus on the Chinese market.
This has increased the pressure on BOE to find new clients for its B7 line, which will suffer from reduced orders from Huawei.
The two lines will likely compete fiercely between each other to win Apple’s order, the people said. B11 is headed by a Taiwanese national, while B7 is run by a Chinese national. Taiwanese engineers were at the center in the design of the B11 line while B7 was designed mostly from ex-Samsung Display engineers. The two lines were not in favorable terms with each other, the people said.
Both lines will attempt to win Apple’s OLED panel order in the second half of the year. If their panels are approved by Cupertino within the second half of the year, the can supply the OLED panels for refurbished iPhone 12s. If they fail again, they will have re-attempt for next year’s iPhone models.
Meanwhile, BOE is building another 6th generation OLED panel line, the B12, at Chongqing. It is expected to go live next year, and when it does, BOE will have OLED panel production capacity of 144,000 substrates per month. Each of its factory line has a production capacity of 48,000 substrates per month.
Apple is attempting to reduce its reliance on Samsung Display for OLED panels and is giving LG Display and BOE more opportunities to supply. When BOE succeeds in winning an order, it will give Cupertino considerable leverage to reduce the unit price of panels.