Apple reportedly ordered 70 million OLED panels from Samsung for upcoming iPhone 8

Shares of Samsung Electronics got a boost on Tuesday after the Nikkei Asian Review reported that archrival Apple had ordered 70 million display panels that the South Korean giant specializes in for the upcoming iPhone.
Samsung’s stock closed at 2.1 million Korean won, posting a rise of 1.54 percent.

Citing a supply chain source, Nikkei reported that Apple has placed orders for bendable organic light-emitting diode panels for use in 70 million handsets for the year. OLED offers brighter displays and better power efficiency over liquid crystal displays currently in use.

Samsung’s OLED displays are used on its own flagship Galaxy devices, and the company is a market leader in the area. Apple is expected to launch three new iPhones later this year, with the anniversary edition iPhone 8 believed to have a slightly curved 5.2-inch OLED screen. This will be the most expensive model. The two other iPhones will have LCD displays.

It would be the first time Apple has used OLED displays on its flagship device.

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Samsung has not responded to a request for comment. Apple declined to comment.

Nikkei Asian Review quoted IHS Markit analyst David Hsieh as saying that the order for 70 million units of OLED panels is in line with his expectations. He added that Samsung is expecting to produce as many as 95 million units for Apple in 2017, in case demand exceeds expectations. Hsieh also said Samsung is likely to be the sole supplier.
“It is also possible that some of these 70 million handsets will not be shipped to customers this year and be carried over to next year depending on demand,” Hsieh told Nikkei.

The 70 million unit figure gives a sense of the kind of bullish demand Apple is expecting for the anniversary model, which some analysts are suggesting could cost $900 to $1,000.

But some analysts have said it’s not likely Apple will sell all 70 million OLED iPhones this year looking at previous performance. In the fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, Apple sold 78.2 million iPhones — latest iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models and older versions.

Neil Shah, research director of devices and ecosystems at Counterpoint Research, said he expects Apple to be able to sell around 70 million iPhones in total in the final quarter of this year when it releases the new device. But again, not all 70 million will be the OLED devices.

The likelihood is Apple will sell some of the OLED phones next year, and at least have some ready in case it sees a pop in demand.

Leaks and reports suggest that the iPhone 8 could be the most advanced yet with new features such as a front-facing camera with 3-D sensor. Analysts are expecting this to kick of a “supercycle” of iPhone sales. For example, JPMorgan raised its price target for Apple’s stock based on a more optimistic outlook on iPhone sales.

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