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Apple can't escape Samsung for iPad screens

Reports indicate that alternative suppliers of the new RetinaDisplay have not yet reached Apple's quality standards


Published: 14 March, 2012

READ MORE: Display | Tablet

Apple's relationship with Samsung may be at an all-time low, but it cannot entirely escape the clutches of its huge supplier, and the Korean firm is reported to be making the display for the new iPad HD.

According the analysts at iSuppli, the usual suppliers of Apple's RetinaDisplay bright touchscreens, LG Display and Sharp, failed to meet the vendor's quality standards, and it was forced to turn to Samsung. Apple has been reducing its reliance on its Korean rival for iDevice components, and has invested in Sharp, in particular, to encourage alternative sources of mobile screens. But it seems that expanding Apple's own RetinaDisplay display, only previously used on handsets, to the tablet was a big challenge.

The iSuppli report, by analyst Vinita Jakhanwal, says Samsung is currently the only supplier of the 9.7-inch display, which boosts the iPad's resolution to 2048 x 1536. He told Bloomberg: "The display specifications on the new iPad are very demanding in terms of the very high resolution. Achieving this high resolution without compromising on the power consumption and brightness and maintaining Apple's quality standards are supposedly proving to be a challenge for LG Display and Sharp." These two vendors may be able to start supplying iPad displays later in the year, perhaps as early as April.

Apple is thought to have redesigned its A5 processor, now upgraded to the A5X, specifically to drive the new screen and deliver the smoothest experience. Samsung also makes that processor, though Apple is moving to a dual-supplier structure with TSMC - a transition which has also hit various obstacles, indicating that breaking up is hard to do with its Korean partner, which also supplies memory and other components.

Apple may almost double its spending on screens for tablets and smartphones this year, according to the research firm, and Gartner predicts that Apple will shift almost 70m slates in 2012, in a total market of about 103.5m. All the display makers will be vying hard for a slice of that pie, though none is commenting on the current reports. LG Display, the largest provider of iPhone LCDs and older generation iPad screens, gets about 2% of its revenue from Apple, says Bloomberg.

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