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Apple evaluating Chinese display maker CSOT for potential OLED orders

iPhone 13 Pro models

China-based display manufacturer CSOT is reportedly evaluating its production lines in a bid to supply iPhone OLED panels to Apple.

CSOT has reportedly formed a team to evaluate suitability of its production lines for OLED displays for Apple. According to The Elec, CSOT and Apple recently reviewed an OLED panel produced by its T4 factory in Wuhan, China.

The T4 facility, which can make Gen 6 flexible OLED panels, is designed to house three manufacturing phases that can provide a total of 45,000 substrates per month. Two of those phases are currently live.

Sources told The Elec that if the review OLED panels meets Apple's standards, CSOT plans to invest in a demo line to make more. Once it evaluates the yield of that line, it will likely mull whether to try to make OLED panels for iPhones or to build yet another line for evaluation.

CSOT had previously supplied Samsung with OLED panels for its Galaxy M models in 2021. In 2022, it plans to produce OLED panels for the Samsung Galaxy A73.

The road to enter Apple's supply chain won't be an easy one for CSOT. The largest Chinese display maker, BOE, has struggled to meet Apple's quality demands during evaluation processes.

Although BOE eventually won a contract with Apple, it wasn't a straightforward process.

The Elec notes that it is "highly unlikely" that Apple will decide to include CSOT in its supply chain because BOE can already produce panels with the same specifications. In addition, Apple could use BOE as a leverage point to get Samsung Display and LG display to lower their prices.

BOE's production capabilities are estimated to hit 144,000 substrates per month by the end of 2022. That's triple the maximum capacity of CSOT's factory.

CSOT isn't the first company to go through an Apple evaluation process. In 2021, Chinese display maker Visionox also underwent an evaluation but ultimately failed to win OLED panel orders.