When it comes to manufacturing displays for electronics, South Korean manufacturers Samsung Display and LG Display are ahead of the competition. Furthermore, they are the only two names when it comes to manufacturing OLED screens at industrial volumes, making them the go-to choice for most smartphone and TV makers that are looking to make products using the future-facing OLED technology.
And while LED and LCD screen options continue to exist, the difference in quality, picture and energy efficiency on OLED screens is clearly visible, making it the preferred choice for high-end devices. A new report now suggests that Japanese manufacturer Sharp is also getting into the business of making OLED screens for smartphones.
While Sharp‘s own Aquos devices have used its own OLED screens, it will now look to manufacture these screens commercially as an OEM for other smartphone makers. It’s ability to manufacture in large volumes is yet to be seen, but it could eventually scale up to give competition to incumbent manufacturers Samsung and LG. Apple has reportedly been looking for a new supplier of OLED screens for some time now, in order to reduce its dependence on its rival in the smartphone business Samsung.
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Apple has been using OLED screens on its flagship Apple iPhone X, and these screens have been supplied by Samsung exclusively. Although LG also manufactures these screens, Samsung’s scale and development have meant that it is the only manufacturer capable of making OLED screens to Apple’s high requirements and standards. Although Apple is reported to be working with LG as a second supplier, LG isn’t quite able to manufacturer at the same scale as its Korean rival Samsung, leaving Apple at the mercy of Samsung for the large part.
Apple will therefore be closely watching Sharp’s moves in the business, as it will look to sign on more suppliers of OLED screens in order to reduce its dependence on Samsung. This year, there are reported to be two iPhone variants with OLED screens, and for now, Apple remains dependent on Samsung. But if Sharp is able to establish and manufacture OLED screens at scale, we could well see Apple changing its supply strategy and finally reducing its need for Samsung’s screens.