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:
There are many standard OLED displays on the market, ranging from small PMOLED displays to smartphone-sized AMOLEDs with embedded touch abilities (and even larger ones, of course). As every company wants the optimum display for its product, many reach out to us to assist with designing a custom OLED for their project. But what does this process really entail? And who it is right for?
Does it make sense to engage an OLED display maker with a custom display? It depends on your application, budget and volume requirement. As you will see below, creating a custom OLED is never a simple project and will require a hefty sum (tooling fee, also referred to by some as NRE, or Non-Recurring Engineering) and a large minimum order requirement (MOQ). Remember that the OLED industry is still an emerging one and the displays (and all related services) are relatively expensive compared to LCDs.
In January 2019 Taiwan-based INT Tech unveiled its proprietary glass-based high pixel density OLED technology, and the company now announced that its first prototype display was produced and successfully tested.
INT Tech's display is a 0.7" 2,300 PPI real RGB side-by-side AMOLED display. INT Tech says that its technology enables larger displays with higher brightness, lower power consumption and a wider color gamut compared to currently available OLED microdisplays which are produced on silicon.
OnePlus now officially announced that its next phone (the OnePlus 8) will feature a high-end AMOLED, developed in collaboration with Samsung, that will feature a refresh rate of 120Hz, a peak brightness of 1,000 nits, 10-bit color support and a 2K+ resolution. OnePlus again brands its Super AMOLED displays as Fluid Display. The touch sample rate will be 240Hz and the phone will include a hardware MEMC smooth-video accelerator.
IHS Markit says that smartphone AMOLED shipments reached 146 million in Q3 2019 - a record high, and up from 93 million in the second quarter. LTPS LCD shipments reached 144 million - and this is the first quarter in which AMOLED shipments surpassed LTPS LCD shipments. a-SI LCD is still the leading technology with shipments of 177 million.
Following the increased demand for AMOLED displays, Samsung Display regained its leading position in the market (with a 29% market share), replacing BOE. The third largest suppler is Tianma.
Motorola says that due to unexpected high demand, it is delaying the launch of its $1,500 foldable OLED phone, the Razr 2019. The company did not announce a new launch date (previously it was December 26th) but says that the company "does not anticipate a significant shift from our original availability timeline".
Motorola says that "Since its announcement in November, the new motorola razr has received unparalleled excitement and interest from consumers. Demand has been high, and as a result, has quickly outgrown supply predictions".
IHS Markit says that rigid AMOLED is the leading smartwatch display technology, with a market share of 36% (in Q4 2019) - up from a market share of only 14% in the beginning of 2019. Rigid AMOLEDs enjoy the fastest growth of all display technologies.
All OLED displays together (PMOLED, AMOLED and flexible OLEDs) take up a market share of 69%. The market share of PMOLED displays shrunk from 51% in 2018 to 19% in 2019 as rigid AMOLEDs starts to be adopted where PMOLED displays once were. To learn more about the PMOLED market and its future, see our PMOLED Market Report.
Visionox announced that it is supplying the highly-curved 2.07" 326 PPI 430 nits AMOLED display for Huami's next-generation Amazfit X smartwatch, which will be released in Q1 2020.
Huami, which is a subsidiary of Xiaomi, is enjoying great success with its wearable devices. In 2018 it has shipped 27.5 million smartwatches - surpassing even Apple. This could be an excellent design win for Visionox.
In September 2019 Xiaomi unveiled a new "concept" smartphone, the Mi Mix Alpha, which uses a foldable OLED screen wrapped around the phone. Xiaomi said this phone will be produced in small quantities (with a price tag of around $2,800) and indeed it is now displaying it in its shop in Hong Kong:
The AMOLED display, produced by Visionox, is 7.92" in size with a resolution of 2088x2250 (388 PPI).
Korean site ETNews says that Apple will release three new iPhone models in 2020 - all with OLED displays. There will be a 5.4", 6.1" and 6.7" models.
For the 5.4" and 6.7" models, Apple will rely exclusively on Samsung Display for its AMOLED displays - and will adopt Samsung's Y-OCTA technology (on-cell touch) which enables thinner panels. ETNews says that SDC offered great terms for Apple to secure the 2020 exclusivity.
BOE held its annual Innovation Partner Conference in Beijing, and the company's chairman said that the company aims to produce at least 70 million flexible AMOLED panels. This is a sharp increase from what BOE estimated only last month.
BOE has been known to make aggressive targets - it first aimed to produce 30-50 million AMOLED panels in 2019, but eventually the number of panels in 2019 will be around 20 million.