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LG Display set for turnaround next year, buoyed by Apple’s first OLED iPad

OLED panels for iPads almost three times more expensive than those of iPhones

Nov. 12, 2023 - 15:31 By Jo He-rim
Apple iPad Pro 6 (Apple)

LG Display is expected to get out of the red next year earlier than expected, by supplying organic light-emitting displays for Apple's upcoming iPad Pro, of which the panels are to be three times more expensive than that of the iPhone.

According to industry sources on Sunday, the Korean panel maker will start OLED production for the upcoming iPad Pro in February next year at its plant in Paju, Gyeonggi Province.

This is about three months earlier than predicted, with Apple forecast to launch the new product lineup in the second quarter next year.

Apple is targeting a total of 10 million OLED iPad panels next year. LG Display is expected to supply 60 percent of the supply, while Samsung Display is responsible for producing the rest.

Omdia, a market tracker, said LG may be supplying the panels for 11-inch and 12.9-inch models, while Samsung provides for the 11-inch model only.

The price of the bigger OLED panels for iPads are three times higher than those of iPhones. Even if the number of orders for iPads may be smaller than that for iPhones, the new supply deal will affect LG Display’s profitability positively, market watchers say.

Market intelligence firm FnGuide predicts LG Display's annual sales will record about 21.03 trillion won ($15.9 billion), with an operating loss of 2.56 trillion won this year. With the new OLED orders for iPads, the display maker is forecast to see a turnaround next year, posting an estimated 109.4 billion won in operating profits. By 2025, its operating profits are expected to surge to 659.6 billion won.

"Apple's turn to OLED panels for its iPads would have a big impact on the industry, creating a whole new market that is similar to the iPhone in size," said Namgung Hyon, a researcher at Shinhan Securities.

The two Korean display makers are reportedly wrapping up their price negotiations with Apple on OLED supplies.

It marks the first time that Apple is adopting OLED panels for its tablet lineup, ditching liquid crystal displays. Additionally, the global tech giant is reportedly reviewing adopting OLED screens for all its iPad models, including the iPad mini and iPad Air lineups, from 2026 onward.

Next year, Apple is expected to introduce big changes to its iPad lineup, including a slightly larger 13-inch model, a new aluminum Magic Keyboard and the M3 chipset.

According to Seoul-based market tracker UBI Research, OLED shipments for tablets, laptops and monitors will grow 41 percent annually to 31 million units by 2027.