Linguists aren’t sure anybody actually said the phrase “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” until “The Godfather Part II,” but that hasn’t stopped Apple and Samsung from teaming up for the next iPhone.
Two Korean-language sources, The Korean Herald and Hankyung are reporting via AppleInsider and ZDNet that Samsung Display, a subsidiary of the parent company Samsung, has signed a partnership with Apple to provide super-high-definition organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens for the iPhone 7s. The deal, which will see $2.59 billion flow from Cupertino to Seoul, reportedly contracts Samsung to deliver 100 million 5.5-inch OLED panels per year, and unnamed sources told both outlets that the deal is expected to run for a minimum of three years, though similarly unconfirmed reports also argue that Apple is balking at such a long-term arrangement.
Samsung already equips several of its own smartphones with internally produced OLED screens, but it only pumps out about 15,000 every month. To accommodate Apple’s purchase, the capacity would have to double to 30,000, which might explain Samsung’s insistence on a multi-year commitment from its unlikely business partner.
Apple, however, is said to be seeking flexibility in its manufacturing partnerships. Sources have also pegged LG Display as a possible secondary producer of OLED panels for the iPhone 7s. Though LG won’t start producing its first screens until its factory line has finished expanding in the first half of 2017, Apple apparently is set on keeping its options open.
However, with the iPhone 7s pegged for a release date sometime in the fall of 2016, Samsung Display can rest easy knowing that it will have the contract to itself for the first run of the product.