New iPad screen may be Samsung-made. Go figure

As numerous lawsuits and biting ads have proven, Apple and Samsung don't play well together--except, that is, when it comes to components.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
The new iPad's Retina Display is reportedly made by Samsung, a company Apple is in a heated legal battle with over intellectual property.
The new iPad's Retina Display is reportedly made by Samsung, a company Apple is in a heated legal battle with over intellectual property. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

For the new iPad's biggest feature, Apple may have been forced to rely on a bitter rival: Samsung.

In other words, the two giant companies appear to have been able to set aside all about those seemingly endless patent lawsuits and legal efforts to quash sales of each others' products around the world. Apple to Samsung: Come home, there's money to mint.

Bloomberg, citing component analysis firm iSuppli, reports that Samsung is the sole supplier of the 9.7-inch "Retina Display" that comes on Apple's new iPad. LG and Sharp couldn't make similar panels that met Apple's standards, the firm said.

"The display specifications on the new iPad are very demanding in terms of the very high resolution," iSuppli senior manager Vinita Jakhanwal told Bloomberg. "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."

Apple and Samsung declined comment to Bloomberg on the claim.

The 10.1-inch WQXGA tablet display from Samsung subsidiary Nouvoyance.
The 10.1-inch WQXGA tablet display from Samsung subsidiary Nouvoyance (click to enlarge). Nouvoyance

Apple has a long history of declining to identify the suppliers of specific components, although the details usually emerge when its gadgets get the teardown treatment. In fact, the company only recently named its suppliers at all as part of its 2012 supplier responsibility report (pdf). That said, Samsung has been a supplier of LCD screens for previous iterations of the iPad, so this shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

As for whether Samsung is up to making the high-density panels, its subsidiary Nouvoyance publicly demonstrated Retina Display-like screens early last year. One particular model, demoed at SID Display Week last year, sported 2560-by-1600 pixels, up from the 2048-by-1536 pixel display that ships in the new iPad.

Apple and Samsung are currently embroiled in litigation in courts around the world. Despite having been business partners for years, the two have quickly become fierce competitors in smartphones and tablets.

The dispute was kicked off last year when Apple filed a U.S. lawsuit against Samsung that accused Samsung of violating its intellectual property in the design of its mobile devices, specifically the Galaxy series of smartphones and tablets. Samsung quickly countersued, saying Apple was infringing on multiple patents. Since then, Apple's gone after Samsung heavily in Europe--particularly Italy and Germany, the latter of which is considered to be friendly to patent-holders and faster than courts in the U.S.

Samsung sent out an e-mail to the media last week pitting Apple's new iPad against its own Galaxy Note 10.1 smartphone. That involved talking up its own device for "content creation" by noting a number of things it could do that the iPad couldn't. Absent from that list was any mention of the screen--an omission that makes a bit more sense now.