Apple (AAPL) Rolling Out More iPhones Than You Can Handle, Turns to Frenemy for Help

Gearing up for its September release, Apple (AAPL) turned to archrival Samsung to ramp up the supply for OLED screens.

Apple iPhone

Is the world ready for three iPhone 7? That’s right, Cupertino-based tech giant, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is reportedly gearing up for the release of not one, but three different iPhone 7s. And there could be some truth to rumors that Apple is teaming up with its frenemy Samsung, to supply one of the variant’s OLED screen.

According to the grapevine, the release will include “a 4.7-inch model, another that will be 5.5-inches and a premium handset that will be either 5.5-inches or larger equipped with a screen bent on the two sides.” The first two iPhones will feature a flat screen while the premium variant may come with curved OLED screen, which no doubt, Samsung will supply. The curved display offers some functionality that could be activated using the edges. But the main benefit of the screen is to allow a larger screen to fit a small body.

Samsung is the main supplier of AMOLED panels, which are seen on the company’s premium smartphone line, the Galaxy series.

This could be the reason why Apple recently struck a deal with the South Korean smartphone maker. The deal includes supplying 100 million AMOLED panels per year to Apple, which many believe would be used for the iPhone 7. The $2.6 billion (3 trillion won) deal will require Samsung to expand its A3 factory line to keep up with Apple’s demand. The Korean tech company is currently expanding its line to double the number of glass sheets the factory could create, investing $8.7 billion to maintain the supply.

In the past, Samsung supplied Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) for Apple until 2009 when a row erupted between the two conglomerates over patent issues. Apart from ordering AMOLED panels, Apple is also increasing the demand for memory chips for iPhones. Samsung is the world’s largest manufacturer of memory chips. The company is also expanding its semiconductor line for Apple, a deal which is worth billions of dollars.

No specific details have been provided in terms of screen technology, but developing a curved screen does require OLED tech. Case to point: The Galaxy S7’s super AMOLED panel. It remains unclear if the first two iPhone 7s will feature an OLED screen or it will sport the same LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) panels.

David Hsieh, a senior director at IHS DisplaySearch confirmed that Samsung will be supplying screen panels to Apple but expressed doubts if the Galaxy smartphone maker could meet the demands of Apple and itself.

The 2017 iPhone 7, which will share the same design as its predecessor, the iPhone 6, is rumored to feature an edge-to-edge display and possible Touch ID and camera components integration. Apple’s flagship smartphone could also feature a new home button, faster processor, and eliminate the traditional headphone jack for a slimmer form factor. On the other hand, the iPhone 7 Pro could feature a Smart connector.

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