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:
Huawei's Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro smartphones, released in September 2019, sported AMOLED displays made by Samsung Display (rigid 6.62" 1080x2340) and BOE (flexible 6.53" 1176x2400, the Mate 30 Pro).
According to a report from Korea, Huawei will soon launch its next flagship phones, the Mate 40 and Mate 40 Pro - and the flexible OLEDs used in the Mate 40 Pro will be supplied by Samsung and LG Display (50% split). This is an interesting achievement by the Korean OLED makers and likely quite a blow for BOE. Apparently BOE could not match Huawei's requirement for this curved OLED display.
Motorola says that due to unexpected high demand, it is delaying the launch of its $1,500 foldable OLED phone, the Razr 2019. The company did not announce a new launch date (previously it was December 26th) but says that the company "does not anticipate a significant shift from our original availability timeline".
Motorola says that "Since its announcement in November, the new motorola razr has received unparalleled excitement and interest from consumers. Demand has been high, and as a result, has quickly outgrown supply predictions".
IHS Markit says that rigid AMOLED is the leading smartwatch display technology, with a market share of 36% (in Q4 2019) - up from a market share of only 14% in the beginning of 2019. Rigid AMOLEDs enjoy the fastest growth of all display technologies.
All OLED displays together (PMOLED, AMOLED and flexible OLEDs) take up a market share of 69%. The market share of PMOLED displays shrunk from 51% in 2018 to 19% in 2019 as rigid AMOLEDs starts to be adopted where PMOLED displays once were. To learn more about the PMOLED market and its future, see our PMOLED Market Report.
Visionox announced that it is supplying the highly-curved 2.07" 326 PPI 430 nits AMOLED display for Huami's next-generation Amazfit X smartwatch, which will be released in Q1 2020.
Huami, which is a subsidiary of Xiaomi, is enjoying great success with its wearable devices. In 2018 it has shipped 27.5 million smartwatches - surpassing even Apple. This could be an excellent design win for Visionox.
Cadillac announced that the 2021 full-size luxury SUV Escalade will adopt a 38-inch curved OLED display. Cadillac says this OLED will enables bold imagery, perfect blacks and the largest color range available in the automotive industry.
The 38" OLED will sport "twice the number of pixels of a 4K TV". As it seems to be a very wide format, it could be a resolution of 8192 x 2160 or something like that. As this is the first time a 38" OLED is discussed, we do not know who is developing this display. A large number of companies are developing and producing automotive OLED displays - to learn more about this exciting new OLED market, click here.
Coca Cola has embedded flexible OLED lighting panels in 8,000 bottles in Singapore, as part of a new Star Wars promotion campaign.
Each device also includes a small battery - enough for around 4,000 seconds of light. Inuru provided the OLED technology for this beautiful (if wasteful) application.
UBI Research posted an interesting note. The company says that rigid OLED shipments (237 million) command a 79.2% market share of the entire OLED smartphone market, up from 64.5% in 2018.
Display makers have mostly invested in flexible OLED production - but currently there is higher demand for the lower cost rigid OLEDs. All rigid OLED lines are currently in full capacity and UBI suggests that we may see some companies converting flexible OLED lines to rigid OLED production - or that we'll see new investments in rigid OLED production.
Sharp started producing flexible OLEDs in low volume in August 2018, and have adopted these displays in its own smartphones. According to report Sharp Sharp understands it cannot compete with Korean and Chinese companies with both technology and price and has halted smartphone OLED production (although it still develops advanced OLED technologies and will continue to produce OLEDs for other applications).
We now offer Sharp's flexible OLED displays at the OLED marketplace, at a clearance sale. These are high-end 6.18" 1440x2992 flexible AMOLED displays with on-cell touch, and we have 15,000 such panels available at a great price. Check out more information over at the OLED Marketplace, or contact us now.
BOE held its annual Innovation Partner Conference in Beijing, and the company's chairman said that the company aims to produce at least 70 million flexible AMOLED panels. This is a sharp increase from what BOE estimated only last month.
BOE has been known to make aggressive targets - it first aimed to produce 30-50 million AMOLED panels in 2019, but eventually the number of panels in 2019 will be around 20 million.
In 2017 Samsung Display started to build its largest OLED production fab, the A5 fab in Asan. The fab was supposed to have a monthly capacity of 180,000 to 270,000 monthly substrates (Samsung's A3 line has a monthly capacity of 135,000 substrates).
Following lower demand for OLED panels and increased competition from China, Samsung stopped constructing the A5 fab, but a new report from Korea now suggests that Samsung is now starting to construct the A5 fab as demand for OLED displays is picking up.