Apple’s love-hate relationship with semiconductor manufacturer and smartphone rival Samsung has taken another turn, with press reports emerging suggesting processors from the Korean smartphone giant could power the iPhone 7.
According to a report in The Korea Economic Daily, Apple has reportedly signed a deal that will see Samsung supply its next-generation 14 nanometre processors which will be used in Apple’s A9 chips.
In turn, the A9 chips will form the core of Apple’s iPhone 7 smartphone, which is expected to be released in the second half of 2015.
After Apple entered the mobile phone market in 2007, Samsung became a major supplier of a range of essential components including memory chips, batteries, displays and processors.
However, relations between the two companies have cooled significantly by late 2012, with Samsung overtaking Apple as the world’s largest smartphone vendor by unit shipments.
Apple, in turn, filed a series of patent violation lawsuit against Samsung, with a $US1 billion payment being awarded to Apple in a high-profile case, along with an attempt to get key Samsung products banned from sale in the US.
This has led Apple to examine switching its orders for memory chips, displays and processors away from Samsung, with Samsung Display recently cancelling a major LCD display contract with Apple. Apple had hoped that Taiwanese semiconductor firm Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) would be able to replace Samsung as a processor supplier.
The breakdown saw Apple contract the manufacturing of its 20 nanometre Apple A8 processors, used in its forthcoming iPhone 6, to Taiwanese semiconductor foundry TSMC instead of Samsung, with Samsung responding by charging Apple 20% extra for all outstanding processor orders.
However, according to The Korea Economic Daily, Samsung’s development of 14 nanometre processes ahead of TSMC has forced Apple to switch its orders back to its old rival, Samsung.