BOE had manufactured only a meager amount of OLED panels for iPhones since February, TheElec has learned.
The Chinese display panel maker had begun supplying OLED panels for the 6.1-inch model of the iPhone 13 series since last year.
But since February, the company’s panel volume for the phone plummeted over the past four months, sources said.
The initial reason for the dip early on was the shortage of display driver ICs, which BOE procures from LX Semicon, which is supplying more to LG Display.
However, this alone doesn’t explain the dramatic drop of BOE’s production volume, the sources said.
The most likely reason is that the panel maker likely changed the design of the OLED panels, such as expanding the circuit width of the thin-film transistor, and this was discovered by Apple, the sources added.
This could have caused the iPhone maker to tell BOE to halt production, they also said.
However, it is unlikely that Cupertino will exclude the Chinese display panel maker from its OLED panel supply chain.
It is more advantageous for Apple to keep BOE as a supplier to pressure Samsung Display and LG Display to cut their OLED panel unit prices.
Despite the dip in production volume, the sources said BOE’s B11 factory, which manufactures OLED panels for iPhones, at Sichuan was still operating.
Alternatively, earlier this year, Samsung Display, the largest OLED panel supplier to Apple, said during the conference call for its latest fiscal quarter that it plans to use its patents to protect its business interests in the OLED sector.
Apple could have warned BOE of the issue, which means the Chinese display panel maker could be working on a workaround, a different group of people said.
Samsung Display, as the first company to commercialize OLED panels for smartphones, has a lead in patents related to pixel structure and touch electrode, they added.