Samsung Electro-Mechanics will be supplying its rigid flexible printed circuit boards (RFPCB) to Apple for the upcoming iPhone 13, TheElec has learned.
RFPCB is used to connect the OLED panel with the main baord.
Samsung Electro-Mechanics had considered exiting the RFPCB business last year, with iPhone 12 being the last product it supplied the boards for. The business has not been profitable for Samsung Electro-Mechanics for the past couple of years.
For Apple and Samsung Display, which supplies OLED panels to Cupertino, it is more convenient to continue procuring RFPCB from Samsung Electro-Mechanics and Bhflex, another Korean RFPCB maker, for the upcoming iPhone.
Apple is planning to use RFPCB for the two higher tier models in the new iPhone. The remaining two models will use multiplex FPCB.
RFPCB is both rigid and can be folded, which allows for more convenient product deigns and faster transmission of electric signals. It is a higher value component than FPCB.
South Korean PCB maker Youngpoong Electronics is also expected to supply RFPCB to Apple through Samsung Display.
Youngpoong was added to the supply chain as Samsung Electro-Mechanics could still exit the RFPCB business after iPhone 13.
Youngpoong had supplied RFPCB to Apple through LG Display back in 2019. But it saw its supply of boards for iPhones drop last year as Cupertino decided to have LG Display used multiplex FPCB for its OLED panels instead of RFPCB.
Meanwhile, the two higher tier iPhones this year that will use RFPCB will have low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) thin-film transistor (TFT) OLED panels.
LTPO OLED is needed for a 120Hz refresh rate screen. These panels will be supplied exclusively by Samsung Display.
According to forecasts by Omdia, Samsung Display is expected supply 110 million units if OLED panels for iPhones (for both iPhone 12 and iPhone 13) this year, followed by LG Display’s 50 million units and BOE’s 9 million units. The precise volume of OLED panels these companies supply to Apple for the iPhone 13 will only be known around July, when production for them begins.