According to a new report out of South Korea today, Apple is investing KRW 3 trillion (about $2.7 billion) in LG Display. The point of this is to ensure a stable supply of OLED panels for future iPhones, the ones coming in 2018 and beyond. We’ve already heard that Apple plans on going OLED-only for its handsets starting next year, and this sort of confirms that.
The investment will basically serve as an advance payment for said OLED panels to be manufactured in the future. Apple has long been rumored to have made a deal with Samsung for the OLED screen of the iPhone 8 coming this year, but the company traditionally doesn’t like relying on just one supplier for a part. Additionally, it needs to make sure that it will have enough OLED panels lined up for the next iPhone generations. Going all-in with OLED will require many more displays from 2018 onwards, compared to what’s needed for the iPhone 8 in 2017.
Unnamed sources claim that LG Display is likely to build an entire OLED production line dedicated to Apple’s iPhones. It would need around KRW 3.5 trillion for such an endeavor, and Apple is conveniently supplying most of that sum through this deal. At the same time, Google is investing in LG Display too, to the tune of KRW 1 trillion (around $900 million), in order to secure panels for upcoming Pixels. OLED panel supplies are tight at the moment, with Samsung (the biggest maker by far with 95% market share) primarily selling to its own smartphone making arm alongside Apple.