Apple secures new supplier for Apple Watch Series 5 screens

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Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Japan Display will supply OLED screens for the upcoming Apple Watch Series 5, according to a new report.

This will be the Japan Display’s first foray into OLED screens. The deal is said to be a “breakthrough” for the company, which has been suffering as a result of Apple’s move from LCD to OLED displays for the iPhone.

Japan Display continues to supply Apple with LCD screens for the iPhone XR — the only handset in Apple’s latest lineup that still uses LCD panels. But with sales of its most affordable flagship reported to be lower than anticipated, some suppliers are struggling.

Japan Display saw more than half of its revenue come from Apple last year. So its late move into OLED production means that it has felt the impact of falling demand for LCDs more than most.

But it has just been handed a lifeline.

Japan Display steps up for Apple Watch 5

Japan Display will begin supplying OLED screens for the next-generation Apple Watch later this year, Reuters reports, citing two sources familiar with the deal.

LG is currently the primary supplier of Apple Watch displays. Samsung is the exclusive manufacturer of OLED screens for the iPhone. But Japan Display will be hoping that this deal will be a stepping stone to producing OLED iPhone displays later.

One experts warns, however, that it won’t be easy for the company.

“Hurdles would be high to win orders for iPhone,” said Hiroshi Hayes, a senior director at IHS Markit. “Samsung Display has built up its experience, technologies and production capacity over more than a decade.”

Japan Display is already making smartphone OLEDs

Japan Display has already started piloting smartphone OLED production at a plant in eastern Japan, Reuters adds. It is now seeking as much as $990 million in financing to build a new OLED facility in China dedicated to smartphone panels.

Its latest deal with Apple has already been good for the company, with shares in Japan Display jumping 7.6 percent on Wednesday.