Market Insight

[Display Dynamics] Apple is targeting 80 million flexible OLED panels for its iPhone 12 in 2020

July 10, 2020

David Hsieh David Hsieh Senior Director, Displays

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Key Findings

  • The new iPhone 12 series is expected to begin mass production from the third quarter of 2020 (3Q20) onward. Now, the display makers are gearing up for the final qualification, especially for OLED module manufacturing. Apple’s iPhone 12 series will feature four models, all equipped with high-resolution flexible OLED and 5G.
  • The display suppliers are Samsung Display and LG Display. BOE’s flexible OLED is undergoing the qualification process, and the company expects to start its shipments from the fourth quarter of 2020 (4Q20) onward. The display makers are targeting 80-–85 million units of flexible OLED panels shipped to Apple for its iPhone 12 within 2020.

As analyzed in the Omdia Display Dynamics article “Apple is expanding the OLED lineup for its iPhone” (please refer to the link in the “Further reading” section of the Appendix for more details), Apple has applied two kinds of flexible OLED (5.8- and 6.5-inch) for its iPhone since 2018 and will apply three kinds of flexible OLED (5.4-, 6.1-, and 6.7-inch) in 2020. This strategy is to expand the flagship lineup with flexible OLED, which finally became available with the recent launching of the iPhone SE2 with a 4.7-inch LTPS LCD.

The new iPhone 12 series is expected to begin mass production from 3Q20 onward. Now, the display makers are gearing up for the final qualification, especially for OLED module manufacturing. The iPhone 12 series will feature four models, all equipped with high-resolution flexible OLED and 5G.

The display suppliers are mainly Samsung Display and LG Display. BOE’s flexible OLED is undergoing the qualification process, and the company expects to start its shipments from 4Q20 onward. The display makers are targeting 80–85 million units of flexible OLED panels shipped to Apple for its iPhone 12 within 2020.

Omdia estimates that there will be a series of changes for Apple in its new iPhone 12. The comparison between the iPhone 11 series and the iPhone 12 series is shown below.

There are many expected changes to come for Apple’s new iPhone 12:

  • All four models (iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Max, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max) will adopt the flexible OLED; LCD will no longer be used.
  • Changed the original 5.85-inch flexible OLED to the 5.42-inch flexible OLED, but Samsung Display remains the supplier.
  • Changed the original 6.06-inch LTPS TFT LCD to the 6.06-inch flexible OLED, and intends to add new suppliers like LG Display and BOE.
  • Changed the original 6.56-inch flexible OLED to the 6.68-inch flexible OLED, but Samsung Display remains the supplier.
  • JDI and Sharp, the original LTPS TFT LCD suppliers for iPhone, are no longer in the iPhone display supply chain for the iPhone 12.
  • All models have 5G, whether it is the Sub6 5G or the mmWave 5G specification.
  • Upgraded all display resolutions to over 450 pixels per inch (PPI). The 5.42-inch iPhone 12 has 475 PPI, the iPhone 12 Max has 460 PPI, the iPhone 12 Pro has 460 PPI, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max has 458 PPI.
  • The 5.42-inch and 6.68-inch models are adopting the touch sensor panel on thin-film encapsulation (TSP on TFE), which Samsung Display refers to as Y-OCTA. Samsung Display will supply these two models. However, LG Display and BOE are not yet ready with the TSP-on-TFE technology. Therefore, the 6.06-inch, which LG Display is the main supplier of and possibly BOE, is equipped with the add-on touch panel.
  • The 5.42-inch and 6.68-inch models are adopting the chip-on-polyimide (COP) while the 6.06-inch is using the chip-on-film (COF) driver IC. Samsung Display is comparatively mature in the COP technology.
  • Panel makers are targeting the following volumes: 20 million units of the 5.42-inch flexible OLED, 42 million units of the 6.06-inch flexible OLED, and 23 million units of the 6.68-inch flexible OLED. The total is approximately 80–85 million, which is a very positive forecast.
  • The preparation to produce the iPhone 12’s new flexible OLED panels has been escalating the display makers’ OLED fab capacity utilization in the second half of 2020 (2H20). Omdia forecasts that LG Display will produce the flexible OLED panels in its E6 fab in South Korea and later send them to Vietnam for OLED module assembly. Samsung Display will produce the flexible OLED panels in its A3 fab in South Korea because it is equipped with the Y-OCTA technology. Samsung Display will then ship the panels to Vietnam for OLED module assembly.
  • BOE’s 6.06-inch flexible OLED is still undergoing the qualification process and its schedule is later than that of LG Display and Samsung Display. BOE will make the iPhone 12’s flexible OLED in its B11 fab in China; it will also assemble the OLED module in China. As BOE is still in the process of qualification, Omdia predicts that BOE will only start to ship from 4Q20 onward rather than 3Q20.

Research by Market
Displays
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