Japanese media house Nikkei has reported that Apple Inc. has placed an order with Samsung Electronics for 70 million flexible OLED panels for the 2017 iPhone – the device’s 10th anniversary edition, which may be called iPhone Edition according to an earlier report. Unnamed sources also told Nikkei that there will be three models – something we’ve known for a while now – including a premium 5.2-inch variant with curved OLED display and two smaller LCD models.

Apple typically orders display components from Japan and Korea, with the assembly part usually done either in Taiwan or mainland China. The information from Nikkei also matches that of David Hsieh from IHS Markit, who Nikkei quoted as saying:

“Apple has ordered 70 million units of OLED panels from Samsung this year, while Samsung is preparing to churn out as many as 95 million for Apple in 2017, in case demand exceeds expectations.”

Samsung is obviously well-prepared to handle a spike in demand for Apple’s first ever iPhone with an OLED screen, but Hsieh also says this:

“It is also possible that some of these 70 million handsets will not be shipped to customers this year and be carried over to next year depending on demand.”

So it could swing both ways, but a closer estimate would be 55 million OLED iPhones, according to Jeff Pu of Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting.

In addition, Nikkei also reiterated two long-time rumors about the 2017 iPhone 8 and its siblings, iPhone 7s and 7s Plus: that they will be waterproof and will have wireless charging capabilities. The premium flagship model will also have a 3D sensor for facial recognition and a glaringly absent Home button, which was actually expected on iPhone 7 but did not pan out.

Many of these features are what Samsung has already introduced into the recently launched Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones. That means Apple will have a hard time outdoing Samsung in terms of functionality on the 2017 iPhone 8. Their best bet at this point is superior design, and possibly some hidden gems that they’re keeping close to their chest.

We recently reported that all the new iPhone models that are coming out later this year will sport the True Tone display technology, ideal for those who use their devices in bed at night. More on that here:

True Tone on iPad Pro Coming to iPhone 8, Good News for Insomnia Sufferers

It’s extremely difficult to gauge actual 2017 iPhone shipments. While the 100 million figure from multiple sources could be right, we need to remember that this year has already seen two new 2017 iPhone variants – iPhone (PRODUCT)RED and the 128GB iPhone SE. There are three more to come, so a combined sales volume of 100 million might actually be a low estimate.

On the other hand, Samsung also has plans for multiple models this year. The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are just the beginning, and we expect a Galaxy Note 8 (not to be confused with the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet, also known as Galaxy Note 510) as well as foldable smartphone models going under the current name of Galaxy X1 and X1 Plus.

And let’s definitely not forget Google, with its own three-model smartphone launch plan that includes the Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL and a third and larger smartphone codenamed Taimen.

Apple is going to have its hands full, now that the competition is not just against Samsung. The first Google Pixel saw some solid sales out of the gate, but it’s new and it’s premium. Next year they won’t have the ‘new’ part as a hurdle, now that reviewers are already raving about the camera quality. That may give them the leverage they need to capture significant premium smartphone market share.

Still, it’s an important year for Apple and the 2017 iPhone lineup, and we’re sure that tens of millions of people will ignore every other phone and try to hone in on the 2017 iPhone with the OLED panel. It’s going to be a tough year for Apple, and even if they do break any sales records, it’s going to set the bar very high for next year’s performance.

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Source: Nikkei