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:
IHS says that recent years have seen a drastic growth in smartwatch shipments - the market grew from 9.4 million units in 2014 to 149 million units in 2018. In just one year, shipments grew 42% from 2017 to 2018.
This rising demand for smartwatches has of course created a rising demand for displays. OLED displays are leading this segment - with around 80% of shipments in 2018 (the rest are mostly LCD displays). AMOLED display shipments were around 42 million and PMOLED shipments reached around 75 million.
HP introduced its 2019 Spectre x360 15 high-end laptop in CES 2019 - including a top-of-the-line variant that sports a 15.6" 4K AMOLED display. HP originally aimed to start shipping it in March 2019, but this did not happen and according to Anandtech, the company says it now hopes to start shipping it on April 19.
Interestingly Anandtech also says that HP will release an updated HP Envy laptop which will also sport the same AMOLED display. We do not have more details on the new Envy laptop yet.
Market analysts from CLSA say that in 2018 BOE shipped 2.7 million flexible OLED displays to Huawei, its main customer. These were produced at BOE's Chengdu B7 6-Gen OLED fab, which has reached yields of over 75% (DSCC estimates that BOE's yields are around 50%).
CLSA says that BOE will soon start ramping the second phase of its B7 line, and the company expects to ship 30-50 million AMOLED panels in 2019. CLSA says that this is a highly aggressive target - and they believe actual shipments will only be 12.9 million in 2019.
A report from China suggests that Samsung sold over 500,000 units of its new flagship Galaxy S10 smartphones in China in only 7 days. it tok 30 days to achieve the same number of sales for Samsung's GS9 smartphone in 2018. Within two weeks of its launch, the GS10 is sold out in Hong Kong.
Reviews on Samsung's GS10 has been very positive, and Samsung expects to sell 40-45 million units in 2019.
As Samsung, BOE and Visionox are already starting to produce foldable OLEDs (for Samsung Electronics, Huawei and Xiaomi and Nubia, respectively), AUO is not be left behind, and the Taiwan-based display maker announced it is working with clients to develop foldable OLEDs, with aims to start production in the second half of 2019.
AUO is developing an in-folding display (similar to Samsung's Galaxy Fold). According to CLSA, AUO is developing its foldable OLEDs in collaboration with Lenovo. AUO aims to produce these OLEDs in its 4.5-Gen AMOLED AFPD fab in Singapore - which commenced low-volume AMOLED production in 2013. AUO is currently producing mostly wearable glass-based OLEDs in its AFPD fab.
ETNews reports that BOE has developed a new technology that integrates a touch layer inside a flexible OLED display (on touch) - a similar technology to Samsung's Y-OCTA. BOE is reportedly aiming to integrate the technology to its B11 production line in Miyangyang.
Y-OCTA panels are thinner than Samsung's previous flexible Add-On Touch panels - and the optical features are also better as the touch layer is below the polarizer. Samsung estimates that Y-OCTA also cuts production costs by around 30%.
Samsung's full-screen OLED with a camera-under-the-display technology will take at least 3 years to develop
In October 2018, during the company's OLED Forum in china, Samsung detailed its future OLED technology roadmap, highlighting its sensor integration technologies. Samsung's vision includes putting a fingerprint sensor, a camera, speaker (Sound on Display) and also Haptic capabilities - all under or inside the OLED display.
In the Galaxy S10, Samsung drilled a small hole in the AMOLED display around the camera module. This is quite an achievement, and Samsung's Mobile Communication VP Yang Byung-duk now ways that the company aims to develop a full-screen smartphone display that will put the camera under the OLED without a hole. Byung-duk says that this is a challenging technology - and it will take at least 3 years to develop.
Sony launched its Xperia 1, the world's first 4K OLED smartphone, at MWC 2019, and the company did not yet disclose the price or release date. Amazon now lists this new smartphone, with a $999.99 price tag (for the 128GB model). The shipping date is set at December 2019, but this is likely just a placeholder as Sony said it will ship the phone towards the end of spring (at around May).
The Xperia 1 features a tall 6.5-inch 21:9 3840x1664 AMOLED "CinemaWide" display which supportss HDR (BT.2020). The Xperia 1 also features a Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 64/128 GB of storage, a microSD slot and a triple camera. The phone is also waterproof (IP68) and it has a fingerprint sensor on the side.
DisplayMate: Samsung significantly increased its AMOLED display quality, the GS10 has the best ever mobile display
DisplayMate posted an extensive review of the new Samsung Galaxy S10 display - the 6.1" 3040x1440 (550 PPI) flexible AMOLED. SDC's AMOLEDs are excellent displays - and it is not a surprise that DisplateMate found this newest AMOLED to be the best mobile display it ever tested.
DisplayMate says that the new GS10 display outperforms SDC's previous AMOLED models used in the iPhone XS and the Galaxy S9 and Note 9. This year, Samsung concentrated on increasing the picture quality and color accuracy by implementing precision factory display calibration. The Galaxy S10 is the most color-accurate display that DisplayMate have ever tested.
LG announces three new smartphones that feature AMOLED displays. First up we have the G8 ThinQ, a high end smartphone that features a 6.1" 1440x3120 Crystal Sound OLED, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, a microSD slot and a triple camera setup.
LG also offers a variant called the G8s ThinQ which sports a slightly larger display (but with lower density) - a 6.2" 1080x2240 pOLED. Otherwise the specifications are quite similar. The idea is that a CSO display vibrates and turns into a diaphragm - to produce high quality sound. LG says that such a speaker improves the clarity compared to regular smartphone speakers. The G8 ThinQ will also use other audio technology, including DST-X 3D Surround Sound emulation, Hi-Fi Quad DAC, Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) and more.