Article last updated on: Jun 03, 2018

OLED is a new display technology, used to create thin, power efficient and bright displays. Today OLEDs are used in mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras and even TV sets - as OLEDs are considered the best display technology ever.

Apple's OLED iPhone

Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone X is the company's first OLED Phone - with a 5.8" 1125x2436 (458 PPI) flexible Super AMOLED display that covers almost the entire front of the phone, HDR, dual lens camera, a Hexa-core A11 Bionic CPU, 3GB of RAM and 64/256 GB of storage.

Apple iPhone X photo

The iPhone X carries a high price tag, starting at $999. iPhone X sales were lower than expected, which caused problems at Apple's supplier, including Samsung Display who produces the OLED displays for Apple.

It is still not clear what are Apple's plans for 2018, but it seems likely that Apple will introduce three new iPhones this year. The main model will still use an LCDs, but there will be two higher-end OLED models - a replacement for the iPhone X with a 5.8" AMOLED and a larger 6.3" or 6.5" variant. According to reports Apple wanted LG display to supply it with the larger OLED displays, but it is not clear whether LG Display will be ready with the quantities and quality Apple requires this year.

The OLED Apple Watch

The iPhone X is not Apple's first product to adopt an OLED display, though. In April 2015 Apple launched its first wearable device, the Apple Watch which used a flexible AMOLED display (made by LG Display). All Apple Watch products to date continue to use LGD's flexible OLEDs. OLED displays are especially suitable for wearable devices - as the displays are thinner and lighter than LCD displays, and are more power efficient (especially if you tweak the UI to suit the special OLED properties).



Apple Watch photo

Apple OLED MacBook Pro

Apple's MacBook Pro range of high-end laptops started adopting an OLED Touch Bar instead of the traditional function keys in 2016. The display itself is either a 13" or a 15" LCD.

Apple MacBook Pro 2016 photo

The OLED strip is supported by most of Apple's applications and can show commonly used emojis in messaging applications, bookmarks while you browse and other context-activated options. It also includes a Touch ID sensor that is activated for example when you wish to pay online (on supported web stores). Apple released an API to developers can support the Touch Bar in third-party applications.

Latest Apple OLED news

n-Tech sees the Micro-LED market growing from $2.7 billion in 2019 to over $70 billion in 2027

n-tech Research released a new Micro-LED market report in which they estimate that the market will grow from $2.7 billion in 2019 to over $70 billion in 2027. The markets for Micro-LED displays, according to n-Tech, will include wearables, near-eye displays, HUDs, projection displays and extra large area displays.

MicroLED display market forecast (2018-2027, n-Tech)

All of these applications will benefit from the small size, low weight, high brightness and high resolution of Micro-LED displays. Extra large-area displays will benefit from the linear scalability of Micro-LED displays.

IHS: LGD is the world's leading AMOLED producer for wearables, followed by SDC, EDO, AUO and BOE

IHS says that LG Display is the world's leading AMOLED supplier for smartwatches and wearables. In 2017 LGD shipped 10.64 million AMOLED displays for smartwatches - and it holds a market share of 41.4% (the total market was 25.7 million units in 2017). LG is the exclusive supplier of AMOLED displays for Apple's watch.

Apple Watch Series 2 photo

Samsung Displays is the 2nd wearable AMOLED Producer, with a 34.8% market share. Everdisplay has a 16.2% share and AU Optronics shipped 5.7% of all wearable AMOLED shipments in 2017. BOE is the fifth largest AMOLED wearable maker with a market share of 1.5%.

Graphene for Displays and Lighting Market Report

Bloomberg: LGD to supply Apple with 2-4 million OLED displays for its 2018 iPhones

In January 2018 it was reported that LG Display is in the final stages of its discussions with Apple, and the Korean OLED maker expects to supply 15-16 million flexible OLEDs to Apple in 2018 (LGD will supply Apple with 6.5" AMOLEDs for its 2018 large iPhone OLED variant).

It was later reported by the Wall Street Journal, however, that LG Display may not be ready to produce these OLED displays in time for Apple. Today Bloomberg reports that LGD will supply OLEDs to Apple this year, but only 2-4 million panels (out of about 70 million panels) - with the rest supplied by Samsung Display of course. Bloomberg did not detail whether LGD will supply Apple with the 6.5" OLEDs or the 5.8" ones.

The Bell: Apple aims to sell 45 million 6.5" OLED iPhones and 25 million 5.84" OLED iPhones in 2018

More and more reports suggest that Apple's 2018 iPhone lineup (to be introduced in September 2018) will include two OLED models and one LCD models. A few days ago it the Nikkei Asian Review said that Apple's 2018 OLED iPhone launch orders will be 20% lower compared to 2017, amounting to 80 million panels.

Apple iPhone X photo

Now the Korean site The Bell says that Apple ordered 45 million 6.5" OLED panels from SDC for the iPhone Xs Plus and only 25 million for the smaller 5.84" iPhone Xs - to a total of 70 million panels. For the lower-end LCD model, Apple ordered only 30 million panels from Japan Display.

Nikkei AR: Apple lowers its 2018 iPhone component orders by 20%

Apple-related rumors and reports never cease, only last week did we heard that Apple aims to use OLED displays in all of its 2019 iPhone models, and now it is reported that Apple is taking a conservative approach and readying itself to lower sales of its 2018 iPhones (that will be introduced in the fall).

The Nikkei Asian Review says that Apple approached suppliers and told them that component orders for the new iPhones will be lower by 20% compared to the iPhones launched in 2017. In 2017 Apple got ready to produce 100 million iPhone 8/8+/X before launching these phones, but now Apple expects to sell only 80 million units.

DSCC: SDC's OLED fab utilization starts to improve as production starts for next-gen iPhones and Galaxy phones

DSCC says that Samsung Display's OLED utilization has started to improve as it is starting to produce new OLED displays for new smartphones by Samsung, Apple and other makers.

SDC OLED fab utilization (Jan 2017 - June 2018, DSCC)

SDC's utilization rates started to improve in May 2018, with the rigid A2 OLED fab expected to exceed 80% in June. At 100% yields, the A2 can produce 175,000 monthly substrates. DSCC says that 5.5-inch to 6-inch rigid OLEDs cost will fall to $23 in Q3 2018, with the price premium over LTPS LCDs will be around $5. DSCC says that at such a small gap they expect demand for rigid OLEDs will remain strong.

CLSA - smartphone OLED penetration stagnated in Q1 2018

CLSA says that OLED penetration in the smartphone market was unchanged at 29% in Q1 2018 (up from 25% from Q1 2017, though). Unit shipments increased 12% from Q1 2017 to reach 96 million, but were down 15% from Q4 2017.

OLED smartphone penetration (2015-2018Q1, CLSA)

OLED adoption in Samsung Electronics' smartphones increased to 72% in Q1 2018, mostly due to the successful launch of the GS9. Apple saw a decrease from 35% in Q4 2017 to 32% in Q1 2018 as iPhone X shipment decreased.

Did your iPhone X OLED screen fail? Watch out for LCD replacement screens...

Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone X is the company's first OLED Phone - with a 5.8" 1125x2436 (458 PPI) flexible Super AMOLED display that covers almost the entire front of the phone. The iPhone-X is difficult to repair and Apple charges $279 if your screen brakes outside of the warranty.

Apple iPhone X photo

It is now reported that some companies in China are offering replacement screens for the iPhone X directly via eBay and other online retailers (note: affiliate link to eBay). Most of these screens cost more than the $279 Apple charges - and some of them are actually LCD displays and not OLEDs. These displays are thicker than the original, run hotter and also drain the battery faster. Some of these display also feature some serious defects...

Over 300 Apple employees attended DisplayWeek 2018

Officials from SID reported that 369 Apple employees attended Displayweek this year - a 30% increase over last year. And indeed I can say that you could see Apple's employees all over the show. It's clear that Apple is increasingly interested in next-generation display technologies - including OLED displays, Micro-LED displays and foldable technologies.

Apple iPhone X photo

SID further says that this year 40 Google employees, 25 Amazon employees and 23 Oculus employees attended the show. The display is an extremely important part of most mobile devices today, and TIer-1 producers want more and more control on the display type, quality and performance.

ETNews: Apple to use OLEDs in all of its 2019 iPhone models

Apple started adopting OLEDs in the 2017 iPhone X, and it is expected that it will introduce one or two new OLED modules in its iPhone lineup in 2018 (which will likely include a total of 3 phone models).

Apple iPhone X photo

A new report from Korea's ETNews suggests that Apple decided to exclusively use OLED displays for all of its iPhone models in 2019. As OLEDs provide a better image quality, and are also thinner, lighter, flexible and more efficient than LCDs, it is only a matter of time until all of Apple's iPhones and mobile device make the switch to OLEDs.

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