Apple finally moved from LCD to OLED displays with last year’s iPhone X, and Samsung was its exclusive supplier. This year, Apple has expanded the use of OLED panels, and Korean press reports that Samsung doesn’t have a monopoly on iPhone OLEDs anymore. LG’s OLED panels have reportedly passed muster at Apple, so there will be both Samsung and LG panels in this year’s iPhones.
For years, Samsung has been the only manufacturer of mobile OLED panels at the scale Apple needed. Its panels were also undeniably the best in the world. So, it’s not surprising that Apple partnered with the Korean firm on the iPhone X. LG was just spinning up its mobile OLED production after making OLED TVs for years. Its last foray into OLED panels for phones didn’t go well with phones like the G Flex suffering from severe hardware defects.
In 2017, LG had neither the scale nor quality to supply OLEDs to Apple. Rumors earlier this year even questioned whether or not its new sixth-generation OLED production could meet Apple’s exacting standards. That would have left Apple at the mercy of Samsung, which could charge even more for its hardware. Displays are often the most expensive component in a phone, and the new high-end iPhone models are already costly enough at $ 1,000 or more.
Last year, LG launched the V30 with an in-house OLED panel. This screen was widely panned for having inconsistent “texture” and poor color reproduction. The panels used in the LG-built Pixel 2XL were significantly better, but even there owners had complaints about color shifting at off-angles and muted colors. Google invested in LG’s OLED operation, so it probably got better panels for its flagship phone. If LG can get approval from Apple, its new panels must be vastly improved.
If Apple does use LG OLED displays, it will only be in the iPhone XS and XS Max. Those phones both have OLED panels with a notch at the top for front-facing sensors. The iPhone XR, which starts at $ 250 less than the XS, has an LCD. Apple might not need third-party displays forever; rumors point to it developing custom microLED display technology.
This could bode well for many other phones. Samsung currently makes up 95 percent of the global OLED market. LG is allegedly gearing up to mass produce the new displays, which could lower the price and increase the availability of high-quality OLED panels.