LG struggling to make OLED displays for the iPhone, again
Just when LG managed to slide into Apple's OLED DMs, now a production snag hits its factories when the new 2019 iPhones are hitting the conveyor belts for trial batches on the runup to the fall release, reports Korean media
. LG has allegedly now "temporarily halted the operation of the E6-1 manufacturing line in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, due to technical glitches
Apparently, LG wanted to go with its own PRI encapsulation equipment on the E6-1 line, instead of the American one by Kateeva that Samsung uses, and which LG has installed in the E6-2 facility. The PRI's technology, however, was not up to par with the quality needed, and now LG will be switching to the E6-2 line which will delay mass production, tips one industry insider:
LGD had persuaded Apple to use LG PRI’s machines in producing OLED panels, showing its confidence in achieving a stable production yield. The installation of the Kateeva machine at E6-2, which has been used by its rival Samsung Display, shows that the firm has prepared for different scenarios.
Last year, after months of testing, deliberation, and failed yield promises, LG was being fast-tracked to become Apple's second OLED display supplier, breaking Samsung's current monopoly over iPhone displays.
While Apple and LG cut the ribbon on the new production line, it was said to only be able to produce no more than 2 million panels by the end of the year. Some of these could potentially be used only for repairs of the new iPhones, too. Considering that the initial aim and the quantity that analysts predicted was twice that number, they cut LG Display's share price forecast because of the yield issues.
The E6 line in its Korean factory was reportedly cleared for production way back in September by Apple which put it into operation, hoping to get whatever yields LG can muster. Unfortunately, the number of OLED panels with the needed quality that LG's conveyor belts were able to churn out was not very large. In fact, LG might only be able to supply about 400,000 iPhone OLED panels at the time, a far cry from even the humble 2 million prediction.
LG aimed to start small but steady and try to trim its crosstown rival's chokehold on the small OLED panels industry, while the team from Cupertino is in a desperate need of at least one more OLED screen supplier to avoid the monopolistic prices that Samsung is charging. With the help of Apple's credit lines, LG should have quickly been able to ramp up production but today's production snags speak volumes about Apple's OLED diversification goals.