A passerby photographs an Apple store logo with his Samsung Galaxy phone. -Reuters File Photo

TAIPEI: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co will soon start making microchips for Apple as the US tech giant reduces manufacturing contracts with its South Korean rival Samsung, reports said on Wednesday.

The Taiwanese company has been contracted to manufacture the A6X chip, which drives Apple's iPad4 tablet, with trial production set for the first quarter of this year, Taiwan's Commercial Times reported.

The move is the latest in a strings of efforts by Apple to switch mass manufacturing contracts away from Samsung, it said.

The South Korean firm, the world's top mobile phone maker and Apple's leading competitor in the smartphone market, produces microchips and a range of other products for its American rival.

Both Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Bravo, a Taiwanese PR company handling Apple's media relations, declined to comment on the report.

Apple and Samsung have been locked in a series of patent lawsuits.

Samsung was ordered by a US jury in August to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages for illegally copying iPhone and iPad features for its flagship Galaxy S smartphones. Samsung has appealed the ruling

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