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iPhone camera supplier O-Film being dropped by Apple: report


Apple is reportedly dropping iPhone camera supplier O-Film, following accusations that the company used forced labor.

O-Film was one of three companies making triple-lens camera modules for Apple, alongside LG InnoTek and Sharp …

Background

O-Film was first reported to have become an Apple supplier early last year. A subsequent report said that LG Innotek was the lead supplier, with O-Film and Sharp as secondary ones.

Concerns about possible use of forced labor by O-Film were first raised in March of this year.

A weekend report published in British newspaper The Independent put a renewed spotlight on the treatment of ethnic Uyghurs in China. Focusing on labor conditions at Chinese factories, the report says that the Chinese regime has relocated thousands of the Muslim Uyghurs from the west Xinjiang region, to be forced into work at these factories.

In addition to Nike, Dell, Volkswagen, and other big US brands, Apple is also linked to the story — specifically two Apple suppliers, BOE and O-Film.

Those fears were strengthened in July, when the US Department of Commerce added O-Film to a list of Chinese companies implicated in human rights violations.

Today’s report on iPhone camera supplier O-Film

TheElec leads by indicating O-Film has been dropped entirely, but then partly walks that back within the piece.

Chinese company O-Film Group has been kicked out of Apple’s camera module supply chain, TheElec has learned […]

O-Film’s modules accounted for around mid-10% of those used by Apple in its smartphones. LG InnoTek’s account for some 50% and Sharp 30%.

The Chinese company will now likely only supply camera modules for legacy iPhones. It won’t be able to supply to newly launched iPhones.

LG InnoTek had supplied the triple camera and time of flight (ToF) module for iPhones 12 Pro and iPhones 12 Pro Max. The company will likely now also supply modules for lesser tier iPhones.

If it is the case that O-Film remains in the supply chain for older models, it’s likely that Apple needs time to source replacement suppliers, and will then drop the company entirely. Although the allegations are as yet unproven, there now seems enough evidence to err on the side of caution.

Apple was last month reported to be lobbying for a dilution of a US anti forced labor bill, something we suggested at the time was unlikely to indicate opposition to the bill’s goals. A more recent report suggested that Apple wanted three changes, one of which was to have the US government, not individual US companies, make the call on whether or not a Chinese company was indeed implicated in the use of forced labor.

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