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:
We are happy to announce that we now list a new panel at the OLED Marketplace - a BOE 5.99" 1080x2160 flexible AMOLED display with a flexible touch panel.
This is a high-end smartphone display (but can be used for other applications as well) that is now in production (at BOE's B7 line in Chengdu). Check out more information over at the OLED Marketplace, or contact us now.
TCL has unveiled two interesting foldable OLED prototype devices. The first one is a tri-foldable OLED smartphone, that has a 10" 3K AMOLED display that folds into a 6.64" one. The second is the sliding-expanding prototype we already reported on last month.
These are still very early prototype devices, reportedly the software is not taking advantage of the special display features.
SDC expects demand for foldable OLEDs to soar, will increase production capacity to a million panels per month
Korean ETNews reports that Samsung is expecting higher demand for foldable OLED displays, and the company decided to increase its monthly production capacity from 260,000 units to around 600,000 by the end of May 2019, and over a million displays by the end of the year.
ETNews also reports that Samsung Electronics is planning to launch its third foldable smartphone later in 2020, and Chinese phone makers are also requesting foldable displays from SDC.
CNet reports that TCL was supposed to demonstrate a novel smartphone design next week (at the cancelled MWC event) that uses an "expandable" sliding OLED display. The idea is basically the same as in the first crop of foldable OLEDs - provide a phone that can open up to a tablet-size device:
Apparently TCL was supposed to show a working demonstration. Such a design will likely require a screen that is folded in two places or some sort of rollable display - which is possible but more difficult to actually commercialize compared to a screen that folds inwardly or outwardly in a single position.
Yesterday Motorola started shipping its $1,500 foldable OLED phone, the Razr 2019. The Razr 2019 features a 6.2" 2142x876 (21:9) foldable AMOLED display that folds inside, produced by BOE. There's also a regular external 2.7" 600x800 AMOLED used when the phone is closed.
Initial reviews are appearing online. Android Central's Nirave Gondhia tested one such phone, and he says that the Razr's screen feels fragile, even more so than the screen of his Galaxy Fold. While he likes how the device folds, he says that as the screen shifts along the hinge, the feedback on the screen feel strange and it feels as if the screen could be damaged by the folding over the long term.
In December 2019 Cadillac announced that its 2021 Escalade will sport a 38-inch curved OLED display. Rumors suggested that LG is the producer of this display, and indeed Cadillac now unveiled the car and its next-generation display - and LG confirmed that this is indeed its P-OLED screen.
The displays, which will come standard on all 2021 Escalde versions, include an instrument cluster and infotainment systems, and enable several customizable displays which include AR navigation and night vision modes. There are actually three different displays - from left to right a 7" display, an 14" one and a 16.9" display. The center 14" is the instrument cluster and it is not-touch enabled (the other two do include touch).
Samsung is working on its next foldable phone, which according to leaks will be called the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. According to XDA's Max Weinbach, the new phone will be use ultra-thin flexible glass, instead of polyimide.
In November 2019 Samsung indeed signed an exclusive deal with Korea's Dowoo Insys to supply ultra-thin glass (UTG) for future foldable OLED devices. Samsung is aiming to switch to glass as its current foldable OLEDs which are protected by a plastic cover are highly prone for scratching and are very fragile.
TCL and Juhua Printing demonstrated a 31" FHD inkjet-printed rollable hybrid QD-OLED TV prototype. The display uses an IGZO (Oxide-TFT) backplane and TCL says that it has an aperture ratio of over 50%, brightness of 200 nits and a 90% DCI-P3 color gamut.
TCL's hybrid display technology (which TCL calls H-QLED) uses a blue OLED emitter coupled with red and green QD emitters. All three emitter materials are combined and printed using ink-jet printing technology.
Lenovo unveiled the world's first foldable laptop - the ThinkPad X1 Fold. This is a Windows 10 Pro laptop that uses a 13.3" 2048x1536 foldable OLED display. The X1 Fold features an Intel chipset (unspecified yet) and a wireless keyboard. The battery life should be about 11 hours.
Lenovo says the ThinkPad X1 Fold will ship in mid-2020 starting at $2,499. Lenovo reveals that LG Display is the producer of the foldable display.
Intel unveiled a new concept device called the Horseshow Bend, which uses a 17.3" foldable OLED display that folds into a 12" display. The device is based on Intel's upcoming "Tiger Lake" mobile processors.
Intel says that the Horseshoe Bend can be used in a number of postures for varying user experiences: laptop, all-in-one, lay-flat, canvas or book. It has also been developed with a detachable keyboard that fit seamlessly into the device when folded for easy transport.