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Samsung Electro-Mechanics delays withdrawal from RF PCB biz

Photo of iPhone 12. Samsung Electro-Mechanics is set to supply its RF PCBs to the new iPhone 13 scheduled to be released in the latter half of this year. Courtesy of Apple Korea
Photo of iPhone 12. Samsung Electro-Mechanics is set to supply its RF PCBs to the new iPhone 13 scheduled to be released in the latter half of this year. Courtesy of Apple Korea

By Kim Hyun-bin

Samsung Electro-Mechanics will supply its rigid flexible printed circuit boards (RF PCB) for the new iPhone scheduled to be released in the latter half of this year.

The company was reviewing whether to withdraw from the RF PCB business after it fulfilled the supply order for the iPhone 12 series. But due to an unexpected surge in orders the company has postponed this.

The option to withdraw from the business still lies open but Apple's orders for Samsung Display's organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) have surged compared to last year leading to an increase in orders for RF PCB units. The RF PCB connects the OLED with the main substrate.

According to reports by THE ELEC, a local tech outlet, RF PCBs will be embedded in the iPhone 13, scheduled to be launched in the latter half of this year but the two top models of the iPhone Pro lineup will utilize the RF PCBs.

Samsung Display's supply of OLEDs for iPhones is predicted to come close to 100 million. According to market research firm Omdia, Samsung Display's production of OLEDs for Apple has surged 22.8 percent.

The RF PCBs used in the new iPhone this year will implement low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) and thin-film transistors (TFT). The OLED model will be exclusively supplied by Samsung Display. Last year, the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max utilized RF PCBs.

According to the domestic PCB industry, there has been an increase in the number of firms that are reviewing to enter the RF PCB business with the high possibility of Samsung Electro-Mechanics withdrawing. Fixed costs and deficits from the RF PCB business have cost Samsung an annual 50 billion won in losses.

Last year, just after being appointed to head Samsung Electro-Mechanics, CEO Kyung Kye-hyun ordered a review of the company's RF PCB and wireless communication module business units. The wireless communication module business was sold off to Chemtronics soon after.


Kim Hyun-bin hyunbin@koreatimes.co.kr


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