Apple's Samsung reliance grows despite legal drama says research

Apple's attempts to extricate itself from Samsung reliance for components have ironically seen the Cupertino firm increase orders for some parts, new research suggests. Samsung supplied more full-sized iPad panels for Apple than LG Display did in two out of the three months of Q2 2013, NPD DisplaySearch says, and in fact has seen a dramatic uptick in how many LCD screens it sends to iPad production lines from the top of this year.

Supply numbers rose around 80-percent, in fact, between Q1 and Q2 2013, so DisplaySearch says. Samsung shipped 4.1m displays to Apple in Q2 overall, and is expected to also begin supplying Apple with smaller, 7.9-inch screens in the second half of the year, for the iPad mini, it's claimed.

Whether that's a Retina-spec high resolution 7.9-inch screen or a regular panel remains to be seen. Rumors about the iPad mini 2 have been contrary on the nature of its display, with some suggesting that Apple will stick with the current 1024 x 768 resolution for another generation, while others claim it would double up to 2048 x 1536.

A third set of reports, meanwhile, argue that Apple will do both, keeping the low-res iPad mini as an entry-level market to better compete with Google's affordable Nexus 7 2013, while an iPad mini 2 Retina version would cater for the high-end.

Either way, the extra responsibilities for Samsung and its ongoing importance in the iPad supply chain are at odds with Apple's attempts to distance itself from its rival, particularly after escalating battles both in stores and in the courtroom. That antagonism has seen Apple look elsewhere for its custom processor manufacturing, turning to TSMC for the production of the next-gen A-Series chips in 2014, and cutting Samsung's foundries out of the loop.

However, even that distance looks set to narrow again, with reports that TSMC's inability to compete with Samsung's 14nm manufacturing talents has forced Apple back into the arms of the Korean supplier. The Apple A9 chipset will be produced by Samsung for use in iPhones and iPads from 2015, it was reported last month.