According to Jefferies & Co, display manufacturers could make a 6.5-inch OLED panel for Apple in 2020 while the entire smartphone industry will start releasing foldable phones by 2019.
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Even though it’s been less than a month since the iPhone X saw the light of the day, it’s never too soon to speculate what Apple will do two years down the line. Citing investments in Apple’s supply chain, Chuljoong Kim of Jefferies & Co. thinks Apple will launch three variants of the iPhone in 2020, all with OLED panels.
According to Kim, the 2020 iPhone will be called the iPhone XI S and the largest of them all, the iPhone XI S Plus will sport a mammoth 6.5-inch OLED panel. The bump in the screen size will happen because the iPhone X is pushing the technology even further. “Smartphone models featuring flexible OLED will likely increase sharply thanks to the positive market response to the iPhone X,” he said.
Apple’s interest in OLED panels will be a boon for the entire supply chain of OLED displays, including LG electronics which could see its shares re-rated as an OLED company, Kim writes. OLED-based screens could see a bump in their size from the current 5.85-inch iPhone X, to a mammoth 6.5-inch on the iPhone XI S Plus.
The bump in the screen size will likely put pressure on the suppliers and manufacturers. Some panel makers are already “experiencing production yield issues,” and a larger screen will mean fewer finished OLED panels from a “mother glass”.
Currently, the iPhone X can yield 230 panels out of a “6G” glass, according to Kim while a larger 6.5-inch panel will only yield 180 panels per sheet. And as a result, “the OLED market is unlikely to see oversupply until 2019”, Kim concludes.
However, Kim expects the entire smartphone industry to start testing foldable OLED panels before 2020, that will fold in half like the old flip phones.
Kim opines that phone makers will spend 2018 prototyping, producing only a small number of units. Full-scale commercialisation of foldable smartphones will begin from 2019 which will add to the pressure on panel makers and additional investments will be required in 2018.
Nevertheless, the added pressure will only drive up the demand for the production of OLED panels and companies like LG display and Samsung will play a role in meeting the demand.
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