[ET NEWS] Apple has decided to cut down on the rigid flexible printed circuit board for upcoming new OLED iPhones, replacing the part with cheaper and less advanced multi-flexible printed circuit boards, according to industry sources on April 4.
RFPCB is a key part of the iPhone X that connects chips with the display panel. The new OLED iPhones scheduled for debut in September are likely to use the multi-FPCB for the touch-screen panel, largely due to price and production benefits.
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Currently, three Korean PCB makers -- LG Innotek, Interflex and Youngpoong Electronics -- are supply RFPCBs. But Apple had previously faced a myriad of problems involving RFPCBs.
Before the iPhone X was launched, a Taiwanese supplier dropped out after failing to meet the quality criteria. Then, a faulty connection in the RFPCB module was cited as the cause for the so-called “frozen” iPhone X whose OLED screens would become unresponsive or inaccurate in cold weather.
Apple eventually launched a probe that led to a temporary suspension at some parts plants.
It remains to be seen whether the US tech firm will get its current vendors increase its multi-FPCB supplies, get them to switch suppliers altogether or change suppliers.
One local PCB producer told ET News that it had considered supplying multi-FPCBs to Apple, but changed its mind because the proposed supply price was too low.
In the meantime, Apple plans to launch three new iPhones this year -- one LCD and two OLED models. It has been working on two 5.85-inch and 6.46-inch OLED screens together with Samsung Display.
By Yoon Kun-il (benyun@etnews)
This story was co-produced by ET News and The Investor