It appears Apple will need a lot of OLED screens this year, and Samsung will be supplying them.
Samsung Display will make 160 million OLED panels for Apple in a deal worth 5 trillion won (about $4.3 billion), The Korea Herald reported Monday.
The same outlet reported in April 2016 that Samsung signed a deal to supply 100 million OLED panels to Apple, starting in 2017. That deal has been increased by another 60 million panels, according to the new report.
If the report is true, there’s only one reason why Apple would need so many OLED displays: The company is going to need them for the new iPhone, which will likely come out in the fall.
Apple’s switch to OLED for the new iPhone has been widely rumored, but there is no official news about it (Samsung Display declined to confirm the deal to The Korea Herald, and Apple never comments on rumors). The current-generation iPhones, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, use LCD screens. The upcoming iPhone 8 — at least in one iteration — is rumored to have a curved OLED screen, with no physical buttons whatsoever.
Apple sells around 200 million iPhones per year, but not all of them are new models, so the 160 million figure would likely be more than enough to quench thirst for the new, OLED-equipped models.
If Apple were switching to OLED for its new phones, a deal with Samsung Display would make sense, despite the somewhat strained relations between the two companies. Samsung Display absolutely dominates the mobile OLED market, with a 99% market share as of August 2016. Previous rumors, however, claimed Apple will order at least part of its OLEDs from LG Display as well.