OLED displays use organic materials that emit light when electricity is applied. OLEDs enable emissive, bright, thin, flexible and efficient displays - and so OLEDs are set to replace LCDs in all display applications - from small displays to large TV sets.
AMOLED displays today are used in many applications - and are most common in smartphones. Samsung for example uses AMOLED displays in most of its high-end phones, including the latest Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus and the Note 9. Apple's new iPhones, SmarthWatches, and the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar are all using AMOLEDs. Other AMOLED devices include smartphones from Huawie, Sony, Xiaomi and others.
AMOLED displays are also used in OLED TVs - which are mostly available from LG. OLED TV screens range from 55" to 77" (88" 8K ones are coming in 2019), and are considered to be the best TV panels ever produced. In 2019 we will have the first rollable OLED TV - LG's 65" Signature OLED R.
AMOLED: Active Matrix OLED
The term AMOLED means Active-Matrix OLED. The 'active-matrix' part refers to the driving electronics, or the TFT layer. When you display an image, you actually display it line by line (sequentially) as you can only change one line at a time. An AMOLED uses a TFT which contains a storage capacitor which maintains the line pixel states, and so enables large size (and large resolution) displays.
AMOLED vs PMOLED
A PMOLED uses a simpler kind of driver electronics - without a storage capacitor. This means that each line is turned off when you move to the next line. So let's say you have 10 rows in your display - each row will only be on 1/10 of the time. The brightness of each row has to be 10 times the brightness you'd get in an AMOLED. So you use more voltage which shortens the lifetime of the OLED materials and also results in a less efficient display. So while PMOLEDs are cheaper to make than AMOLEDs they are limited in size and resolution (the largest PMOLED is only 5", and most of them are around 1" to 3"). Most PMOLEDs are used for character display, and not to show photos or videos.
Flexible, foldable and rollable AMOLEDs
One of the main advantages of AMOLED displays is that they can be made flexible. Flexible AMOLEDs are already popular for many years in smartphones and wearables, and in 2019 we will experience the first foldable devices and rollable screens.
Several companies are developing large transparent AMOLED displays - and in past years we've seen many prototypes - including a large 55" Full-HD transparent TV. But this technology is not commercial yet, mostly it seems because there are no useful applications that will convince the display makers to mass produce such panels.
Looking to buy an AMOLED display?
Are you looking to adopt an AMOLED display for your device? Several producers are already making panels - including Samsung Display, LG Display, EverDisplay, Truly, Visionox and more. AMOLEDs on the market range from small 1-inch ones for smartwatches through large OLEDs used in tablets and laptops - to large TV panels.
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The latest AMOLED news:
BOE says that it shipped 9.1 million AMOLED displays in the first half of 2019 - better than expected as Huawei increased its OLED penetration to 24% in Q2 2019 (up from 9% in Q2 2018). BOE though warns of weak demand for flexible OLEDs and the company lowered its 2019 fully-year guidance to 30 million units (down from 30-50 million).
BOE further announced that it will delay the phase 3 of its Chengdu B7 6-Gen OLED fab due to the weak flexible OLED demand. CLSA estimates that BOE ships more than 60% of Huawei's flexible OLED displays. Over 90% of BOE's OLED revenue is attributed to Huawei, but BOE aims to add one or two new customers starting in Q4 2019.
According to a report from Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, LG Display has passed Apple's quality requirements and has started to produce AMOLED displays for Apple's next generation iPhone, to be announced in September.
According to JoongAng Ilbo, Apple aims to ship around 65 million units of its new smartphones, and has contracted LGD to produce between 6 to 7 million panels, around 10% of Apple's total needs. The rest will be produced by Samsung Display. LGD will produce the displays at its E6 production line in Paju, Korea.
In February 2019 Huawei launched its first foldable smartphone, the Mate X with a 8" 2200x2480 foldable AMOLED display that folds outwards. Huawei originally said it will launch the Mate X by the end of June, but Huawei later said it plans to release it in September and now the company again delays the launch saying that the phone will launch by November.
Back in June Huawei said that it needs more time to test the device and make sure it is durable. It is likely that Huawei is still testing the device - or that Huawei did find some problems and now needs to fix these. It is also possible that the US ban on Huawei is behind this decision. In an
China-based Tianma announced that it plans to construct a 6-Gen flexible AMOLED production line in Xiamen. The company will setup a joint-venture with the local government that will help finance the new fab, which will cost an estimated 48 billion Yuan ($6.8 billion USD).
Tianma estimates that it will take 30 months to construct the fab, which means that initial production is estimated to start in February 2022. The new fab, when in full capacity, will product 48,000 6-Gen substrates each month.
A couple of weeks ago Samsung announced its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 10, with its 6.3" 2280x1080, 401 PPI, Dynamic Infinity-O AMOLED display (6.8" 3040x1440, 498 PPI, on the Note 10+). The company released this nice infographic that details the new AMOLED display (click on it to see a larger version):
DisplayMate tested the new display, and says that this is the world's best smartphone display. The Note 10+ OLED sets 13 new display performance records - including the world's highest absolute color accuracy and highest peak brightness (at 1,308 nits).
Samsung's will start shipping the Galaxy Note 10 in a couple of days, but the smartphone is available for pre-orders and Samsung announced that pre-orders in Korea alone already passed 1.3 million. This is double the pre-orders of last year's Galaxy Note 9.
The most popular model in Korea is currently the 256Gb Galaxy Note 10+. The Note 10 features a 6.3" 2280x1080, 401 PPI, Dynamic Infinity-O AMOLED display (6.8" 3040x1440, 498 PPI, on the Note 10+) with an under-the-display fingerprint sensor. Displaymate says that this is the world's best smartphone display ever.
Back in early 2017 it was reported that Apple is in discussions with BOE Display to supply OLED displays for future iPhones. Up until now Samsung was the exclusive iPhone AMOLED supplier, but a new report from Japan suggests that BOE and Apple's talks are still ongoing.
In fact the Nikkei Asian Review says that Apple is "aggressively testing" BOE's flexible AMOLED displays. The NAR claims that Apple will decide whether to add BOE as a supplier by the end of 2019. Such a deal will be a great step forward for BOE toward its goal to become a leading AMOLED supplier.
DisplayMate tested Samsung's latest OLED flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 10+, and (as expected) says that this is the world's best smartphone display. DisplayMate says that the Note 10+ sets 13 new display performance records - including the world's highest absolute color accuracy and highest peak brightness (at 1,308 nits).
Other records set by the Note 10+ Dynamic AMOLED include the best image contrast accuracy, the smallest shift in color accuracy with image content, the largest native color gamut (113% DCI-P3 and 142% sRGB / Rec.709) and the lowest screen reflectance.
China-based OLED producer Visionox announced plans to establish a flexible and foldable OLED module factory in Guangzhou, China. Together with the local government, Visionox plans to invest 11.2 billion Yuan (around $1.6 billion USD) in this new factory.
Visionox did not provide any time frame for this new fab. The company is currently operating a 6-Gen AMOLED production line in Hebei (with a monthly capacity of 30,000 substrates) and has announced plans to establish a similar flexible OLED line in Hefei in a $6.3 billion investment.