Chinese firm’s production capacity closing gap with Samsung Display
Chinese display giant BOE was in the process of converting its three factories __ B7, B11 and B12 __ to manufacture smartphone flexible OLED panels for Apple, analyst firm UBI Research has claimed.
Because of this, BOE will likely overtake LG Display as the larger OLED supplier for iPhones by 2023, UBI Research CEO Choong Hoon Yi said at an online seminar on Friday.
The Chinese display giant is aiming to become the second-largest supplier of OLED panels to Apple by converting its three factories, Yi said.
BOE’s total flexible OLED panel production capacity will expand from its current 96,000 substrates per month (Gen 6 substrates) to 144,000 substrates per month by the fourth quarter of next year, the CEO said.
This is level with that of Samsung Display’s current capacity of 140,000 substrates per month. LG Display currently has a capacity of 30,000 substrates per month __ it is aiming to expand this to 45,000 substrates per month for flexible OLED panels and 15,000 substrates per month for rigid OLED panels.
According to Yi, BOE was also converting B7, B11 and B12 from their current low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) thin-film transistors (TFT) setup to low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) TFT.
The three factories were expanding sharing of technologies and people to achieve this, he said.
Up to now, BOE had manufactured OLED panels for Apple at B7 and B11, both located in Sichuan province in China.
For iPhone 12, B7 handled the front-end process and B11 back-end. For iPhone 13, B11 is handling both front-end and back-end processes for the OLED panels.
B12, which is at Chongqing, recently started its first stage of operations and is manufacturing OLED panels for Oppo.
The second and third stages will go live during the first half of next year and during the second half of next year or early 2023, respectively.
BOE will be able to supply 15 million units of OLED panels for iPhone 12 and 3 million units for iPhone 13 this year, Yi said.
This means it will account for 10% of the OLED panels used by Apple for their iPhones this year, he said.
For 2022, given that Apple is expected to ship 240 million units of OLED iPhones, Samsung Display will aim for 150 million units, LG Display 70 million units and BOE 50 million units, the UBI Research CEO said.
This means in 2023, BOE can aim to overtake LG Display in shipment, he added.
If BOE’s supply volume to Apple goes up, this means LG Display’s competitiveness in the market could drop, he also said.
As LG Display only has Apple as its customer for Gen 6 flexible OLED panels, unlike Samsung Display and BOE, its risk can increase after 2022, the CEO said.