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 was the company's first OLED Phone - with a 5.8" 1125x2436 (458 PPI) flexible Super AMOLED display. Since then Apple has been adding more OLED iPhones, and as of 2021, the company's entire smartphone lineup adopts AMOLED displays.
The OLED Apple Watch
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 flexible AMOLED displays. 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). According to reports, Apple is developing next-generation MicroLED display technologies for future wearable devices.
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.
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.
The latest Apple OLED news:
According to reports from Korea, Apple has given BOE a "conditional approval" for iPhone panel supply. BOE hasn't been able to meet 100% of Apple's requirements, but it is now given time to fix these issues, and may be able to become a supplier to Apple if all goes well.
Even if BOE manage to satisfy Apple, it will take some time and so it is likely that it won't receive large orders for the iPhone 13 series. Apple currently buys all of its iPhone AMOLED panels from Samsung Display and LG Display. BOE aims to supply the panels for the standard iPhone 13 (not the Pro series).
Apple introduced its latest iPhones, with four models, all featuring AMOLED displays. We'll start with the iPhone 13 which features a 6.1" Super Retina 1200 nits 1170x2532 (460 PPI) AMOLED display. The iPhone 13 mini offer similar specifications, with a 5.4" 1080x2340 1200 nits AMOLED (476 PPI) displays.
OLED microdisplay maker eMagin has been developing direct-emission OLED microdisplay (also called directly-patterned, or dPd) for many years, and is considered to be the leading company - the closest one to commercialize such a display. A dPd will enable much higher efficiency/brightness compared to current designs based on color filters.
In the past eMagin reported of several leading companies that have licensed the technology and/or are working with the company towards the design of custom dPd OLED displays for future AR/VR products. In 2017 for example eMagin reported of a Tier-1 CE company that licensed its dPd tech, and in 2020 the company said it started a new consumer-related AR development project for a next-generation display for a Tier-1 customer.
In the last couple of years, we have seen increased adoption of AMOLED displays in laptops. Earlier this year Samsung stated that it will release 10 new OLED displays for laptops in 2021, and reports suggested that the company is looking into building a dedicated 6-Gen production line for laptop AMOLEDs.
According to a new report from Korea, Samsung is considering building a 8.5-Gen (2200x2500 mm) production line for IT AMOLED displays. This will be the first time such a fab is used to create OLED displays. LG Display has 8.5-Gen lines, but these are used to deposit WOLED panels, and not side-by-side RGB OLEDs.
Samsung Electronics posted its financial results for Q2 2021, with record sales of $55.2 billion and a net profit of $10.9 billion. Samsung saw higher earnings at its memory and display businesses, offset by a decline in smartphone sales.
Samsung Display says that OLED sales and profits increased because of wider adoption of OLED displays. SDC is worried that supply issues of display drivers may disrupt shipments in Q3, but demand for OLEDs in IT devices and gaming products are expected to see significant growth.
Omdia: OLED shipments in Q2 2021 will reach 110 million units, details its flexible OLED 2020-2021Q2 estimates
Market research company Omdia says that flexible OLED shipments in Q2 2021 reach 57 million units,a 54.1% increase over Q2 2020 (but a 35% drop compared to Q1 2021, due to seasonality and lower orders by Apple). Rigid OLED shipments will reach 53 million units in Q2 2021.
The leading flexible OLED maker is Samsung Display, which will ship 39.1 million flexible OLED panels in Q2 2021 (a 61.6% increase over Q1 2020). LG Display will ship 10.6 million units of flexible OLEDs, an increase of 55.9% over last year. The third largest producer, BOE, will ship 7.9 million units, a 31.9% drop from last year, as orders Huawei are shrinking.
Last year DSCC estimated that the foldable OLED market will grow to 94 million panels by 2025. DSCC now updated its forecasts, and lowered its estimates to 75.6 million units in 2025.
DSCC sees Apple starting to adopt foldable OLEDs in 2023, which will boost the total market and will lead to other companies adopting foldable displays. DSCC expects foldable and rollable panels to grow at an 87.5% CAGR from 2020 to 2025. Smartphones will dominate with a market share of over 92% during the entire forecast period.
Apple's latest iPad Pro tablets use a mini-LED backlit LCD (which Apple refers to as Liquid Retina XDR). This relatively new display technology is seen as a way to achieve almost OLED-quality contrast ratio and an improved power consumption as the thousands of small LEDs enable very small dimming zones.
While most reviews of the new display are quite positive, some users are complaining of "blooming" - the edges of bright objects on dark backgrounds tend to 'bleed' as the dimming zone is not small enough.
Trusted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that Apple is developing its first foldable smartphone, planning to release it in 2023. The company plans to sell up to 20 million units in the first year of production.
The Apple foldable smartphone's current design uses a 8-inch 3200x1800 display. Samsung Display is expected to be the exclusive supplier of this high-end display.
In past years Apple had to pay millions of dollars to Samsung Display as a compensation for lower smartphone OLED orders. Apple is committed to buy a certain amount of displays, and this payment is a fine due to lower orders.
Due to lower OLED orders in 2021, analysts estimate that Apple, again, will have to compensate Samsung. The main fault is with lower sales of Apple's iPhone 12 mini. In total, according to reports, Apple reduced its OLED Orders for the iPhone 12 series by 20% to 75 million units in the first half of 2021.