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:
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.
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.
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.
- 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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
In April 2019, after early reviewers reported that that the foldable screen in their Galaxy Fold devices broke down after a day or so, Samsung decided to delay the release of its foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold. Samsung started shipping the re-designed and improved Galaxy Fold in Korea on September 6.
Samsung took three months to re-design and fix all the issues in the Fold smartphone, it updated the design and upgraded the construction to better protect the device from external particles. An early review now says that the Galaxy Fold may be improved, but it is still not durable enough.
The Fraunhofer FEP institute developed OLED light strips made from tiled flexible OLED lighting panels. The new strips can be produced in any length and will be on display next week at the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 in Darmstadt, Germany.
The Fraunhofer FEP produces the flexible OLED panels in a sheet-to-sheet process, and in such a way that they 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.
BOE says that it shipped 9.1 million AMOLED displays in the first half of 2019 - better than expected as Huawei increased its OLED penetration to 24% in Q2 2019 (up from 9% in Q2 2018). BOE though warns of weak demand for flexible OLEDs and the company lowered its 2019 fully-year guidance to 30 million units (down from 30-50 million).
BOE further announced that it will delay the phase 3 of its Chengdu B7 6-Gen OLED fab due to the weak flexible OLED demand. CLSA estimates that BOE ships more than 60% of Huawei's flexible OLED displays. Over 90% of BOE's OLED revenue is attributed to Huawei, but BOE aims to add one or two new customers starting in Q4 2019.