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OLED mobile phones: an introduction and market status
What is an OLED display?
An OLED display uses a new technology called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). OLED screens are brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than LCD or Plasma.
OLEDs are made by placing thin films of organic (carbon based) materials between two conductors. When an electrical current is applied, a bright light is emitted. Since the OLED materials emit light, a backlight is not required (unlike LCDs).
OLEDs in mobile phones
Mobile phones that boast OLED screens are rapidly becoming more prevalent, with over 200 million AMOLED screens manufactured last year to benefit the mobile phone industry. Most major company offer least one OLED phone, with Samsung apparently leading the charge with over 10 models of OLED display mobile phones on the market.
Mobile phones that use OLED displays do not seem very different at first glance, and their outer appearance can be hard to tell apart from an LCD display phone. Their quality, however, is immeasurably better. LCD displays cannot compete with the contrast ratios of AMOLED displays, and true black on an OLED screen is indeed unparalleled (as LCDs can not be as dark and often result in a dark gray). Color saturation and efficiency are additional factors in favor of OLEDs.
In the future we’re going to see flexible OLED displays, bendable phones, transparent screens and more exciting design options enabled by OLED technologies.
Mobile phones with OLED displays
Samsung’s Galaxy S5, the company's 2014 flagship mobile phone, was designed to "focus on what matters most to consumers". The Android 4.4.2 mobile phone features a 5.1" FHD (432 PPI, Diamond Pixel) Super AMOLED display, a 2.5 Ghz quad-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, 16MP camera (4K video support). The GS5 is dust and water resistant, and includes a finger scanner and a heart rate sensor.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is an Android 4.4 (KitKat) Smartphone that sports a large 5.7" QHD (2560 x 1440) Super AMOLED display. Other major features include a 2.7 Ghz Quad-Core CPU (1.9 Ghz Octa-Core in some markets), 3 GB of RAM, 16 mp camera (with Smart OiS), S-Pen, Heart-rate sensor, UV sensor, finger scanner, 32 GB of onboard memory (plus a micro SD slot) and a 3,220 mAh battery. The Note 4 features a premium metal (aluminum) frame. The Galaxy Note 4 is available on Amazon for about $825 including contract with AT&T.
Motorola’s Moto X (2nd Gen) is the second generation Moto X. This smartphone is an Android 4.4.4 device with a 5.2" FHD (423 PPI) AMOLED display. Other features include a 2.5 Ghz quad-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, 13 MP camera and a 2,300 mAh battery. The phone uses an aluminum case and can be customized via Moto Maker. The new Moto X is available on Amazon for $550.
Google’s Nexus 6 is the first phone to run the Android 5.0 Lollipop OS. The Nexus 6 use a large 5.96" 2560 x 1440 AMOLED display. Other features include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 CPU @ 2.7Ghz, a 3220 mAh battery, 13-mp camera with OIS and 32GB (or 64GB) of internal storage memory. The Nexus 6 is available on Amazon for about $650.
Flexible OLED displays are also becoming more present, with several prominent products on the market.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge includes a flexible Super AMOLED display that curves around the right edge. The main (front) display is a 5.6" QHD (2560x1440), and the side display donates 160 rows that show icons or notifications.
The rest of the Note Edge’s specifications are similar to the Note 4: Android 4.4, a 2.7 Ghz Quad-Core CPU, 3 GB of RAM, 16 mp camera (with Smart OiS), S-Pen, Heart-rate sensor, UV sensor, finger scanner, 32/64 GB of onboard memory (plus a micro SD slot) and a 3,000 mAh battery. The Note 4 features a premium metal (aluminum) frame. The Note Edge is now shipping in Korea and soon in the US as well. AT&T will sell it with a $100 premium over the Note 4. You can buy it unlocked in the US for $959.
LG’s G Flex is the first phone that uses LG Display's flexible plastic OLED display. The G Flex has a 6" 720p RGB flexible OLED display made by LG Display that is curved from top to bottom, a 2.3Ghz Snapdragon S800 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal memory, a 13MP camera, NFC, Android 4.2.2 and a 3500mAh non-removable battery (LG Chem's curved battery). The G Flex has two rear-mounted buttons and a "self-healing" back (that should heal scratches quickly). In March 2014, we posted a hands-on review of the G Flex, which is currently shipping globally.
Samsung’s Galaxy Round is the world's first flexible OLED device. This Android 4.3 smartphone features a plastic-based curved 5.7" Full-HD (386 PPI, probably Pentile) Super AMOLED display. The screen curvature radius is 400 mm.
The Galaxy Round includes various user interface tweaks to take advantage of the curved screen, for example the so-called Roll-Effect that enables users to check information such as date, time, missed calls and battery easily when the home screen is off and the "Gravity Effect" for creating visual interaction with the screen by tilting the device. The Galaxy Round uses a 2.3 Ghz quad-core CPU and has 3GB of RAM and a 2,800 mAh battery. It supports NFC and LTE-A. The phone weighs 154 grams and is 7.9mm thick.
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