Article last updated on: Aug 25, 2019

OLED is an emerging display technology that enables beautiful and efficient displays and lighting panels. OLEDs are already being used in many mobile devices and TVs, and the next generation of these panels will be flexible and bendable.

Different kinds of flexibility

When we talk about flexible OLEDs, it's important to understand what that means exactly. A flexible OLED is based on a flexible substrate which can be either plastic, metal or flexible glass. The plastic and metal panels will be light, thin and very durable - in fact they will be virtually shatter-proof.

The first range of devices that use flexible OLED displays are not really flexible from the user perspective. The device maker bends the displays, or curves it - but the final user is not able to actually bend the device. These first-gen flexible OLEDs are adopted many premium smartphones, for example the Samsung edge-type Galaxy phones or Apple's iPhone X and Xs. Besides the beautiful designs, a flexible OLED has several advantages especially in mobile devices - the displays are lighter, thinner and more durable compared to glass based displays.

Second generation flexible OLED displays can be bent by the user - these can be used for example to create foldable smartphones - the first range of which are expected to hit the market by the end of 2019.



The latest flexible OLED news:

Researchers develop a method to 3D Print transparent OLED displays

Researchers from Korea's Yonsei University has developed a 3D printing technique that can be used to deposit transparent OLED displays on any shape. The new technique 3D prints both the support structure and the 3D screen electronics.

OLED 3D printing stack scheme (Yonsei University)

The method is based in Digital Light Processing (DLP) system that prints the transparent plastic frames, and then uses an electrohydrodynamic jet (e-jet) printer to create the OLED layers as seen in the image above.

Huawei to ship the Mate X foldable OLED smartphone on November 15, announced the Mate Xs

In February 2019 Huawei announced its first foldable smartphone, the Mate X with a 8" 2200x2480 foldable AMOLED display that folds outwards. Huawei hoped to launch it in the summer of 2019, but it faced several delays. Yesterday Huawei finally announced that the Mate X will start shipping on November 15th.

The price of the Mate X will be 16,999 Yuan (around $2,400) - even higher than Samsung's $2,000 Galaxy Fold. Obviously this is a premium device for early adopters. The 8" foldable AMOLED display is produced by BOE.

Samsung to supply Apple with 40-50 million iPhone OLED displays in H2 2019

According to a new report from Korea, Samsung Display will supply around 40-50 million flexible AMOLED displays to Apple in the second half of 2019. Apple's latest iPhone lineup was met with positive market response (this was already reported earlier this month by Bloomberg).

Apple iPhone 11 Pro photo

According to the report, Samsung supplied Apple with 3.9 million OLEDs in July, 8.4 million in August and 9.9 million in September. Apple's original plan was to order 6.9 million panels in September but demand was stronger than expected.

Samsung is ramping up its foldable OLED production. Or is it?

Samsung recently re-launched its foldable OLED smartphone, the Galaxy Fold - and the $2,000 smartphone seems to be selling well. In September it was reported that Samsung is seeing strong demand in Korea, and now there is a report from Korea that Samsung Display is ramping up its foldable OLED production.

Samsung Galaxy Fold photo

According to the Korea Herald, SDC has produced 40,000 foldable in August, and had planned to increase that to 67,000 units in September. But it actually produced 92,000 foldable panels in September, and it plans to increase production rate to 102,000 units in October and 99,000 units in November. Samsung's foldable OLED capacity is 3,300 units per day - so it is pretty much running at full capacity now.

The Fraunhofer FEP Monarch flexible transparent OLED lighting kit - hands on review

In 2018 the Fraunhofer FEP institute announced it is starting to offer a design kit that includes several flexible and transparent OLED lighting panels. The Monarch Kit includes several colored butterflies samples, and the researchers were kind enough to send us one such kit for a short review.

So first of all, these OLEDs look beautiful. They shine a beautiful uniform colored light and are very nicely done. There's not much functionality, but it shows the potential of flexible OLED lighting quite nicely.

OLED-Info's foldable, flexible, VR/AR, transparent, microdisplays, PMOLED, automotive and graphene OLED market reports updated to October 2019

Today we published new versions of our market reports - that cover the flexible, VR/AR, microdisplays, automotive, PMOLED and graphene OLED markets. OLED-Info provides comprehensive niche OLED market reports, and our reports cover everything you need to know about the niche market, and can be useful if you want to understand how the OLED industry works and what this technology can provide for your own industry. The reports are now updated to October 2019.

The Flexible and Foldable OLED Market Report:

  • Why flexible displays and lighting panels are so exciting
  • What kind of flexible displays are currently on the market
  • All about the foldable OLED market and industry
  • What the future holds for flexible OLEDs
  • How to acquire flexible OLEDs for your products

The report package provides a good introduction to the flexible and foldable OLED market - present and future. It details both flexible displays and lighting technologies. Read more here!

Sharp demonstrates a 12.3" automotive AMOLED prototype

Sharp demonstrated a flexible 12.3" 1920x720 AMOLED display for automotive applications. The displays uses an IGZO backplane, and Sharp says that it intends to use external compensation to improve the uniformity in the display.

Sharp 12.3'' automotive IGZO AMOLED prototype

Sharp demonstrated the display at the 2019 Vehicle Displays and Interfaces Symposium - at which apparently this was the only OLED on display. According to Display Daily's Ken Werner, OLED displays are finding it difficult to penetrate the automotive display market.

Here are Fraunhofer's modular flexible OLED lighting strips

A few days ago the Fraunhofer FEP institute announced that it developed OLED light strips made from tiled flexible OLED lighting panels, and now we have these nice looking strips on video:

The video was taken at Fraunhofer FEP's booth at the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 in Darmstadt, Germany. The strips, produced in a sheet-to-sheet process can be connected without creating visible interruptions to the active surface. This makes it possible to produce infinitely long OLED light strips. Each segment can be controlled individually - so that different dimming or dynamic signalling can be achieved.

Xiaomi shows a concept smartphone with a flexible OLED wrapped around the edges

Update: it turns out that the display is actually wrapped around almost the entire device, see new video below:

Xiaomi is teasing a new smartphone design, with a concept model it calls the Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha. The phone uses a flexible OLED wrapped around the edges.

This is similar to Samsung's edge OLED smartphone designs which has been in production for many years - but Xiaomi is taking it one step further with the display wrapping completely around the edges.

Samsung says there is unexpected demand for its Galaxy Fold phone in Korea

Samsung started shipping its first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold, on September 6 in Korea, and the company now says that demand for this innovative (and highly expensive at $1,980) phone was strong.

Samsung Galaxy Fold photo

Around 4,000 units where sold within ten minutes, and Samsung will now allocate more Galaxy Fold units for the Korean market. Samsung will start offering the phone outside of Korea soon - and in all it hopes to ship around 1 million units within one year of the launch.