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Consortium forms out of worries Apple could monopolize AMOLED supply with future iPhones

Several major Chinese smartphone vendors are forming a consortium with a supplier to invest in AMOLED production in 2017, mainly out of worries that Apple will end up monopolizing panel supplies with upcoming iPhones, according to reports.

Oppo, Vivo, Huawei, and BBK will be cooperating with panel maker Royole on joint investment in AMOLED production, said DigiTimes, citing Chinese media. The concern isn't so much 2017 — when the first OLED-based iPhone is expected to premiere — as 2018 to 2020, when persistent demand by Apple is expected to put a crimp on what other smartphone makers can obtain, and potentially handicap their production plans.

Royole is already said to be expanding its AMOLED capacity to 45,000 units for 2017, and planning new production lines in 2018. BBK has meanwhile created an independent subsidiary to concentrate on panel production, which is reportedly aiming to hit a 60,000-unit AMOLED capacity between 2017 and 2019.

Apple is rumored to be preparing not two but three flagship iPhone models for next year, though only one of them, a 5.1- or 5.2-inch variant, is predicted to use OLED. High-quality OLED panels can still be expensive, in part because most suppliers are still building up capacity.

The OLED model is expected to feature an edge-to-edge display, and it along with other iPhones may gain wireless charging, something long present on higher-end Android phones.