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. 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 devices may indeed be flexible to the final user. Finally, when the technology is ready, we may see OLED panels that you can fold, bend or stretch. This may create all sorts of exciting designs that will enable large displays to be placed in a mobile device and only be opened when required.

Flexible OLED products

In October 2013, following many years of development and prototype demonstrations, both Samsung and LG Display finally started producing flexible AMOLED displays on plastic (polyimide) substrates. Both Korean companies are now mass producing such displays, which are being used in mobile phones and wearable devices - such as the Galaxy S7 Edge (shown below), the LG G Flex 2 and Apple's Watch.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge at MWC photo

Samsung Display is currently producing flexible OLEDs in two production lines, the 5.5-Gen A2 and the and the newer A3 6-Gen A3. Samsung is producing around 9 million flexible OLEDs per month - to satisfy demand for its mobile phones and wearables - and Samsung is working on expanding its capacity as demand soars and as Apple ordered around 100 million flexible OLED panels for its future iPhones.

LG Display currently produces plastic-based OLEDs in its Gen-4.5 fab, and is investing $900 million to build new production lines as it also aims to become a major flexible AMOLED producer.

Flexible OLED lighting

OLEDs can also be used to make white lighting panels. OLED is a diffuse area lighting source with unique characteristics. While OLED lighting is still in its infancy, many believe that flexible OLED lighting panels may provide designers with a new lighting source that will create stunning designs. Currently there are two companies that produce flexible OLED lighting - LG Display who is also constructing the world's first Gen-5 OLED lighting mass production line and Konica Minolta who's also developing an amibitious flexible OLED lighting fab.

Flexible OLEDs Market Report

If you want to fully understand the flexible OLED display and lighting markets, check out our Flexible OLED Market Report. This comprehensive report explains:

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

The report package also provides a complete list of flexible OLED developers and makers and their current (and future) products, and a lot more. Read more here!

Latest Flexible OLED news

Is LGD working with Apple to develop foldable OLED technologies?

Oct 11, 2017

According to the Korea Herald, LG Display started to develop a foldable OLED display specifically for Apple. LG Display is collaborating with LG Innotek who will develop a flexible printed circuit board for the display.

It is estimated that LG display will not be able to produce such a foldable OLED until 2020. This may be a bit late for Apple as Samsung Electronics hopes to release its first foldable phone in 2018. But Apple is very keen on creating a second source for its OLEDs as it does not want to rely on Samsung Display alone.

OLED-Info's flexible, transparent, VR/AR, microdisplays, automotive and graphene OLED market reports updated to October 2017

Oct 10, 2017

Today we published new versions of our market reports - that cover the flexible, transparent, VR/AR, microdisplays, automotive 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 2017.

The OLED for VR/AR Market Report:

  • Why OLEDs are adopted in almost all VR HMDs
  • What kind of displays are required for VR and AR applications
  • What the future holds for the VR and AR markets
  • Current and future VR and AR systems

The report package provides a great introduction to the emerging VR and AR market, and details the role that OLED displays will have. Read more here!

Flexbile OLEDs Market Report

BOE to ship its first flexible OLEDs (5.5-inch) to Huawei

Oct 10, 2017

Last month we reported that BOE aims to start producing flexible OLEDs at its new 6-Gen B7 fab in Chengdu by the end of October 2017. A new report from Korea's ETNews sheds some more light about BOE's plans.

BOE Flexible AMOLED prototype (2017 photo)

The annual capacity of the B7 line, when complete, will be about 90 million smartphone sized displays (45,000 monthly 6-Gen substrates). According to ETNews, BOE aims to produce 5.5" flexible OLEDs at first, and then add a 5.99" display in November. BOE's initial capacity will be very low - around 10,000 panels per month.

Google announces the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL OLED smartphones

Oct 06, 2017

Google announced its 2nd-generation own-brand smartphones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. The Pixel 2, produced by HTC, sports a 5-inch FHD (441 PPI) AMOLED display (made by SDC), a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64/128 GB of storage and a 12 MP camera.

Google Pixel 2 photo

The Pixel 2 XL, manufactured by LG, has similar features, but with a larger 6" QHD+ (537 PPI) OLED display. This screen is a flexible P-OLED produced by LG Display.

Smartkem and a leading OLED maker in China to co-develop and commercialize OTFT-based LCDs and OLEDs

Oct 04, 2017

UK-based OTFT developer SmartKem announced that it has signed a letter of intent (LOI) towards a commercialization partnership with a leading OLED market in China. This partnership will enable the development and industrialization of OTFT LCDs and OLEDs on plastic substrates.

OTFT Backplane (SmartKem)

SmartKem says that this LOI is just the first step in a joint commitment by SmartKem and the OLED maker to develop LCD and AMOLED solutions and a full commercialization of an OTFT-based display production.

Innolux starts producing small flexible AMOLED displays

Oct 02, 2017

Taiwan-based Innolux has started to produce flexible AMOLED displays, starting with a round 1.39-inch 400x400 (287 PPI) panel. The new AMOLED is aimed towards wearable (smart-watch) applications and is now in mass production.

It is great to see another display producer entering the OLED market. This is also the first flexible AMOLED on the market besides those made by Samsung and LG Display. Innolux is willing to sell these panels to low-volume customers, contact us for more details. You can also view the full technical specifications of the new AMOLED here.

Will Samsung's 2018 foldable phone fold inwards or outwards?

Sep 29, 2017

Samsung has been developing foldable display technologies for many years, and it seems that a foldable phone/tablet is always just around the corner. Samsung is getting closer to a commercial release, though, and earlier this month Samsung's Mobile Business group President says that it hopes to have a foldable phone in the market in 2018.

In-folding vs Out-folding smartphone designs

One of the interesting questions is what kind of device will Samsung launch? In 2016 we heard that Samsung is developing two basic device types - a phone that turns into a tablet and a phone that turns into a smartwatch. The focus currently seems to be on a phone/tablet device. But will it be out-foldable or in-foldable?

ITRI demonstrates an almost-commercial-ready foldable AMOLED prototype

Sep 28, 2017

Taiwan's ITRI institute demonstrated a new foldable AMOLED display prototype, saying that its technology is rapidly approaching "commercial standards". ITRI's new AMOLED panels offer excellent display quality, touch functionality.

ITRI says that its new AMOLED panels are also abrasion-resistant and folding resistant. In fact the panel can be folded up to 200,000 times with a folding radius of 3 mm. It can also withstand being subjected to 1kg of steel wool friction over 50,000 times.

Royole raises $800 million to finance its upcoming flexible OLED production line

Sep 27, 2017

Flexible OLED developer Royole has raised $800 million in its fourth financing round, from Bank of China, ICBC, Citiy Bank and others. Part of that round ($560 million) was in debt while the rest was in equity.

Flexible AMOLED prototype (Royole, 2017)

Royole's previous financing round was in November 2016 - when it raised $75.5 million at a valuation of $3 billion. It's likely that the current financing round is at an even larger valuation.

IHS: sales of flexible OLED displays more than double in Q2 2017

Sep 25, 2017

IHS estimates that sales of mobile flexible AMOLED displays reached about $2 billion in Q2 2017 - more than double compared to Q2 2016 ($886 million).

Samsung quad-edge flexible AMOLED (SID 2017)

Samsung still commands this market - IHS says that SDC had a market share of 98.3% in the second quarter. The second flexible OLED market is LG Display which is reportedly still struggling with yield and quality issues at its new E5 flexible OLED line and so has a low capacity. LGD will hopefully soon increase its capacity dramatically. Chinese OLED makers are now initiating flexible OLED production as well.

Kyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emittersKyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emitters