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 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.
The latest flexible OLED news:
Samsung Electronics reported its financial results for Q4 2018, with revenues of KRW 59.27 trillion ($53 billion USD), down 10% from Q4 2017. Samsung's operating profit of KRW 10.8 trillion ($9.6 billion) was down 29% from 2017.
Samsung Display reported a decline in rigid smartphone OLED display sales - due to rising competition from LCD panels. Demand for flexible OLEDs was strong. In Q1 2019, OLED display sales will remain weak - but Samsung says that flexible OLED demand will pickup in the second half of 2019.
LG Display reported its financial results for Q4 2018 - it reported an operating profit of ₩279 billion ($250 million USD) due to strong shipments of IT panels and OLED TVs. LGD however gave a weak outlook to 2019 (for its LCD business).
LGD says that it will invest $7.1 billion in 2019 in capacity expansion, and $3.5 billion in 2020. It will divert all of its investments into OLED displays - with 60% going to large area OLED TV production and 40% going to small/medium pOLED production.
Last week Xiaomi unveiled a new prototype smartphone that uses a tri-foldable OLED display. The demonstration looks very nice, although the company did not disclose any information or specification.
Digitimes claims that Visionox is the supplier of the foldable OLEDs. Visionox is also the supplier of the foldable OLEDs used by Nubia for its upcoming (?) Alpha foldable device.
DSCC sees a slow recovery in SDC's flexible OLED utilization rates, details its smartphone OLED prices and production costs
DSCC released its cost and prices estimates for Samsung's smartphone OLEDs. For rigid OLEDs production costs range from $23 for a 5.5" FHD AMOLED to $32 for a 7.21" 2244x1080 one (see chart below). For some of its rigid OLEDs, SDC enjoys a high operating margin of 30%.
Flexible OLEDs are of course much more expensive - a 5.5" 2560x1440 panel costs almost $70, while a 6.46" 2688x1242 panel costs around $90 (as can be seen in the chart below). As in rigid OLEDs, the larger displays have a higher operating margin (up to 26% for the 6.46" panel).
You can compare DSCC's production costs estimates with the recently released IHS production costs here. IHS estimates a 5.7" rigid OLED at $18.62 (DSCC: 5.8" at $23) and a 5.8" flexible OLED at $22.61 (DSCC: 5.5" costs $70 - that's quite a difference!).
LG Display had an impressive booth at CES 2019, show off the company's latest display technologies - and most of these were OLED displays, of course. LGD sent us this nice video that shows the main displays at their booth:
The video shows LG's flower OLED installation made up from four curved 65" OLED TV panels, the 88" Crystal-Sound-OLED (CSO) panel with the built-in speaker, LG's new 65" Crystal-Motion OLED (which features an MPTR of 3.5 ms - the world's fastest according to LGD) and finally LG's latest 55" transparent OLED panels.
Chinese electric vehicle maker GAC has unveiled a new concept car called the ENTRANZE EV Detroit Auto Show. The new concept is a 7-person multi-purpose utility vehicle:
GAC's new ENTRANZE VE concept uses several OLED displays, including large flexible OLEDs on both sides of the instrument panel.
DSCC says that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10 will come in three models:
- The Galaxy S10 Light will use a 5.75" 2340x1080 flexible AMOLED display
- The Galaxy S10 will sport a 6.11" 3120x1440 flexible AMOLED
- The Galaxy S10 Plus will sport a large 6.44" 3120x1440 flexible AMOLED
DSCC also details the production cost and panel price at SDC, for the large GS10+ 6.44" AMOLED display - and how it changed from Q1 2018 (with a forecast of up to Q4 2019).
DSCC: BOE managed to triple its flexible OLED production yields, increases capacity to over 1 million flexible OLED panels per month
Market research firm DSCC says that BOE managed to dramatically increase its yields - which have tripled to over 30% by the end of 2018. The company is expected to continue and improve its yields which will reach, according to DSCC, to almost 60% by the end of 2019.
The increased yields enabled BOE to increase its flexible OLED production at its first B7 line from 125,000 units per month in Q3 2018 to almost 1 million panels per month in Q4 2018. BOE's main customer is Huawei - with its Mate 20 Pro. The increased yields means that panel production costs are falling - and DSCC actually expects BOE's production costs to fall below SDC's by the end of 2019 as BOE's fab costs are subsidized - as can be seen in the image below.
OLED-Info's flexible, VR/AR, microdisplays, automotive and graphene OLED market reports updated to January 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 January 2019.
- 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!
Earlier this month we reported that BOE started to construct its 3rd 6-Gen flexible AMOLED production line in Chongqing's Liangjiang district (the B12 line). The Chongqing line will join BOE's first flexible 6-Gen OLED fab in Chengdu (the B7) and its second line in Mianyang.
BOE now announced plans for another large investment in a new flexible OLED fab, this one in Fuzhou, Fujian. This fab will be similar to BOE's other fabs - a 6-Gen (1500×1850 mm) line with a capacity of 48,000 substrates. The investment will total 46.5 billion Yuan (about $6.75 billion USD). This fourth line will bring BOE's total flexible OLED capacity to 192,000 monthly substrates.