BOE hasn’t had the easiest time making displays for Apple, but it appears to be taking on the next iPhone SE. Meanwhile, Apple is still unwillingly tethered to Samsung for much of its high-end screen supply.
China-based display maker BOE (Beijing Oriental Electronics) has a complicated relationship with Apple. But despite some missteps, it looks like the two companies will be working together for a while longer, at least: a new report from The Elec (spotted by MacRumors) pegs BOE as the display supplier for the rumored iPhone SE 4. This latest report comes as Apple is allegedly working on its own display tech — and trying to lessen reliance on its main display maker and rival, Samsung.
Things got off to a rough start with Apple in 2020 when some of BOE’s screens for the iPhone 12 reportedly failed quality tests. Later, Apple caught BOE making unapproved changes to its iPhone 13 display design. And while BOE eventually secured a deal to make 6.1-inch OLEDs for the iPhone 14, the company has reportedly been unable to produce iPhone 15 screens to Apple’s specifications. Instead, it looks like BOE will be supplying 6.1-inch OLEDs for the next budget iPhone.
That’s good news for the bottom line — the SE will likely use an older OLED design, so BOE can use existing parts inventory. But it’s not great news, as Apple has been trying to reduce its dependence on Samsung for displays. A new report from The Information details just how much power Samsung holds over Apple as one of the only manufacturers able to mass-produce high-end OLEDs to its specifications. Samsung Display reportedly gets away with things that no other Apple component supplier would dream of, like not letting Apple engineers into its facilities and refusing to replace a supply of screens when a minor flaw was identified.
As much as Cupertino would like to cut ties with Samsung, it’ll likely be quite a few years before that becomes a reality. If and when it gets its MicroLED production off the ground, Apple will likely start small and use the tech in watches first. In the meantime, Samsung probably isn’t losing any sleep over the iPhone SE order going to its competitor. As The Elec points out, the modern LTPO OLEDs that Samsung makes for the iPhone 14 (and likely 15) cost more than twice as much as the legacy OLEDs the SE will reportedly use. Maybe things will be different in a few years, but until then, it looks like Samsung’s display production lines will be plenty busy making OLED panels destined for high-end iPhones.