Will iPad Mini Production Problems Send Apple Back to Samsung?

Source: Apple.com

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may be forced to reconsider Samsung (SSNLF.PK) as a display supplier for the new iPad mini due to production problems with its two current panel makers, according to a new report from Korea’s ETNews via Apple Insider. Unnamed industry sources stated that Apple’s suppliers are having issues with a “burn-in” problem in the LCD panel for the iPad mini with Retina display. The problem is reportedly caused by a malfunction of the TFT or thin-film-transistor.

Although LG Display (NYSE:LPL) and Sharp are both making panels for the new iPad mini, the production problem is rumored to be especially acute in Sharp’s IGZO, or indium gallium zinc oxide, panels. The burn-in problem appears to be related to the high 2048 x 1536 resolution of the new iPad mini’s 7.9-inch display.

Instead of IGZO, LG Display uses amorphous silicon, or a-Si, for its panel substrate. According to ETNews’ sources, LG Display is having less burn-in problems with its panel production method. In the meantime, Sharp has seen its display yield plummet as it has been so far unable to solve the burn-in problem.

However, Samsung Display has reportedly already solved the burn-in problem in its high-resolution panels. According to ETNews, Samsung Display was previously considered as a panel supplier for the iPad mini with Retina display, but negotiations with Apple fell through. Now it appears that Apple may be reconsidering Samsung as a display supplier in order to keep the iPad mini with Retina display launch on schedule. Samsung’s LTPS, or Low Temperature Polycrystalline Silicon, display substrate is costlier, but does not have a burn-in glitch.

Another solution would be for Apple to ignore the problem since the burn-in is apparently not visible to the naked eye. However, even if the display defect can’t be easily perceived, producing displays with the problem could still have a negative impact on consumers’ perception of Apple as a maker of premium devices.

Apple unveiled the iPad mini with Retina display alongside the iPad Air at a media event on October 22. However, while the iPad Air has been available since November 1, the iPad mini with Retina display will not be released until “later in November,” according to Apple.

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