Chinese display maker CSOT has formed a team to evaluate its production line in a bid to supply OLED panels to Apple for iPhones, TheElec has learned.
CSOT, together with Apple, first review the OLED panel produced from its T4 factory at Wuhan, China, sources said.
T4 can manufacture Gen 6 (1500x1850mm) flexible OLED panels.
The factory is designed to house three phases for a total capacity of 45,000 substrates per month. Two phases are currently live.
If panels made at T4 meet the requirement of Apple, CSOT is planning to invest in a demo line.
The Chinese company will then evaluate the yield of the demo line and the performances of the panels made there.
CSOT will likely decide on whether it will use T4 to manufacture OLED panels for iPhones or to build another line after the evaluation.
The Chinese company had supplied OLED panels for Samsung’s legacy Galaxy M models last year. It will be supplying OLED panels for Galaxy A73 this year.
However, it won’t be an easy road for CSOT to enter Apple’s OLED panel supply chain.
China’s largest display panel maker, BOE, had failed multiple times in Cupertino’s evaluation processes before finally being able to supply OLED panels to the iPhone maker.
BOE has also only been able to supply 6.06-inch low-temperature polycrystalline silicon (LTPS) OLED panels to Apple for the past two years __ for iPhone 12 and iPhone 13. It will also be supplying the same panels for iPhone 14 this year.
The company will need to develop its own low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) OLED panels to win more orders for future iPhone models.
CSOT’s T4 factory can currently only handle LTPS OLED panel orders. It is highly unlikely that Apple will feel the need to include CSOT in its supply chain as it already has BOE as a supplier of panels with the same specification.
Cupertino can also already use BOE to pressure Samsung Display and LG Display into lowering their unit prices. BOE’s OLED production capacity will also expand to 144,000 substrates per month by the end of this year or early next year, triple that of the maximum capacity at CSOT’s T4 factory.
CSOT’s T4 factory also has a very low operation rate as of now, sources said, another reason why it wants Apple’s evaluation.
Meanwhile, fellow Chinese display panel maker Visionox also went through Apple’s evaluation during the fourth quarter last year to win orders for OLED panels.
It failed to pass the evaluation, but the company has been spending on flexible OLED panels since 2018, and will likely try again.
Visionox also needs to win more orders for flexible OLED panels due to the vacuum left by Huawei, which was the largest buyer of flexible OLED panels among Chinese smartphone makers.