LGD, BOE Face Panel Quality Issues, SDC’s iPhone15 Panel Share Grows

Based on a recent analysis by TrendForce, LG Display is encountering a challenge with its supply of 6.7-inch panels and chassis for the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The issue revolves around tolerance, leading to the development of a growing dark spot (GDS) once the components are assembled. Unfortunately, this problem has hindered the successful passage of quality verification tests. Consequently, LGD’s production timeline is anticipated to face a one-month delay, awaiting the resumption of shipments following the completion of revalidation later this month. To manage the reduced panel supply during this interim period, Samsung Display (SDC) will step in and provide supplementary support.

From the standpoint of downstream assembly facilities, the adjustments in supply have the potential to impact production operations in Zhengzhou for approximately two weeks. It’s projected that by ramping up production subsequently, these effects can be mitigated.

On a different note, BOE has successfully achieved its goal for this year by participating in the development of panels for both the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. However, owing to recent quality concerns necessitating mask adjustments, they might encounter a significant decrease in shipments. Simultaneously, since SDC is a key supplier for these two new models as well, they will step up to fill the void created by BOE’s supply shortfall.

Taking a historical perspective on BOE’s involvement in supplying iPhone panels, their journey began with the iPhone 12, providing components for repairs, and subsequently transitioning into regular supply for the iPhone 13. Their prowess in LTPS and OLED technology has been acknowledged. However, with the introduction of the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus models, which incorporate the Dynamic Island design featuring a center-hole punch, the demands placed on the panels have become more stringent. The alteration in mask design is likely a pivotal factor that requires additional time for BOE to optimize panel yield and quality.

TrendForce underscores that the issue pertaining to panel quality only marginally affects the overarching shipping schedule for the iPhone 15 series. Its main consequence lies in the reshuffling of panel suppliers, while SDC continues to assert its dominance as the primary supplier of new model iPhone panels this year, accounting for nearly 70% of the market share.


Fierce Rivalry in AMOLED Panel Market Triggers Rapid Price Drop

Due to weak demand in the mobile phone market, the decline in prices of mobile phone panels, especially AMOLED panels, has accelerated this year. Under overcapacity pressure, the price decline has exceeded expectations.

According to our survey, some brands actively introduced Ramless DDI flexible AMOLED panels in the second half of last year, trying to narrow the price gap with rigid AMOLED panels and increase usage rates through DDI cost optimization. However, the inventory level of flexible AMOLED panels with Ram is high, and the price decline has also accelerated, while also narrowing the price gap with rigid AMOLED panels.

The current prices update:

  • Rigid AMOLED panels are around USD 18-20.
  • Flexible AMOLED panels with Ram are priced at around USD 25 or even lower, which is a significant drop from the average of USD 30 or more last year.
  • The above price reduction of flexible AMOLED panels with Ram has led to a price reduction of Ramless DDI flexible AMOLED panels, which are currently priced at around USD 20-22.

The significant price reduction of flexible AMOLED panels with Ram has dimmed the cost advantage of Ramless DDI flexible AMOLED panels, and currently only Xiaomi has adopted them. Other first-tier brand customers remain cautious.

In addition, due to the momentum of flexible AMOLED panel price declines, whether the price of rigid AMOLED panels will follow suit has become a challenge for SDC. We believe that SDC should follow the price reduction strategy and may even approach the level of USD 15 in the second half of the year after abandoning the USD 20 threshold.

However, there are two reasons why we believe SDC may find it difficult to reverse the current situation even with a price reduction strategy. These reasons include:

  • Weak overall smartphone demand this year.
  • Chinese brand customers will gradually adjust their procurement strategy to focus on domestic panel factories. For SDC, how to dispose of rigid AMOLED panel capacity in the medium to long term will be a major issue.

Due to the sustained pressure on AMOLED panel prices, LTPS LCD panel prices are also forced to continue to decline, and it is expected that prices will continue to drop from the current range of USD 10-15 and may even fall below USD 10.

On the other hand, because LTPS LCD prices have approached a-Si LCD panel prices, it has aroused the interest of some brand customers. Under the overall weak market conditions, adopting low-cost LTPS LCD specifications may help improve revenue performance or stimulate demand by upgrading from HD to FHD specifications at the same price.

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