Article last updated on: Aug 10, 2019

Foldable OLED displays are exciting - as these displays will enable new device form factors - such as phones that open into tablets, smart bands that open into smartphones and more. In 2019 the first such products are finally arriving on the market!

Samsung Galaxy X prototype photo

The first foldable smartphones

In 2013, Samsung kicked off the foldable OLED market, sort of, when it announced its YOUM flexible OLED brand, showing off several flexible OLED prototypes - including a foldable phone/tablet. Samsung never used the YOUM brand name again, but Samsung has continued to develop its foldable OLED technology.

In 2015 we started hearing the first reports of Samsung's Project Valley. Samsung hoped to release its first foldable device in 2016, but the company faced many challenges including problems with the substrate and the software and user interface. In 2019 Samsung finally introduced the first device, the Galaxy Fold - which was launched prematurely, though, which compelled Samsung to halt production, fixed some design issues - and hopefully the company will finally launch the device again in September 2019.

Samsung Galaxy Fold photo

Samsung's first foldable device uses two screens - a large 7.3" 1532x2152 (361 PPI) foldable AMOLED that folds inside, and a smaller 4.5" 840x1960 AMOLED that is used when the phone is closed. Samsung brands the display as the Samsung Infinity Flex Display. The Galaxy Fold is relatively thick and bulky - and is expensive (around $2,000).



Other companies are also developing such devices - Royole is already shipping a "developer" edition of the FlexPai phone/tablet, with its 7.8" 1920x1440 (308 PPI) AMOLED display that fold outwards.

In February 2019 Huawei launched its first foldable smartphone, the Mate X with a 8" 2200x2480 foldable AMOLED display that folds outwards. Huawei said it will launch the Mate X by the end of June, but now the company says it is now planning to release it in September.Huawei Mate X folding photo

In September 2019 Nubia unveiled the Alpha - smartband that turns into a smartphone - with a foldable OLED display. Nubia started shipping this device in China in early 2019. Xiaomi has also teased a beautiful tri-folded OLED smartphone.

In May 2019 Lenovo demonstrated a prototype 13.3" foldable OLED ThinkPad laptop - with LGD providing the display. Lenovo said that it developed this device for over three years, and hopes to launched a commercial one in 2020.

Foldable OLED developers

Samsung Display is not the only display maker to develop foldable OLED technologies. China's BOE Display seems to be another leading foldable OLED developer. In May 2018, BOE demonstrated several impressive new technologies, including a 6.2" 1440x3008 foldable (1R) OLED display with a touch layer and a foldable 7.56" 2048x1535 OLED. According to reports, BOE is working with three companies, including Huawei, with four different devices under development. BOE is likely to be the display supplier for Huawei's Mate X.

In September 2018, Chinese smartphone maker Nubia unveiled its first foldable device, the Nubia Alpha. The Alpha uses a tall and slim foldable OLED and turns from a slim phone to a wearable smartwatch. The device is now shipping in China. The producer of the Nubia Alpha's display is China-based Visionox. Visionox is also supplying the OLEDs to Xiaomi's prototypes.

Nubia alpha photo

The foldable OLED market

It seems that 2019 will be the year of the foldable OLED. Market analyst firm DSCC estimates that by 2022 the market for foldable OLED will reach 63 million units, up from 3 million in 2019 (a CAGR of 173%).

Foldable OLED shipment forecasts (2019-2022, DSCC)

Flexible OLEDs Market Report

If you want to fully understand the flexible and foldable 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
  • Foldable OLED plans and forecasts
  • 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!

The latest foldable OLED news:

Samsung is ramping up its foldable OLED production. Or is it?

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.

Samsung Galaxy Fold photo

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.

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.

The Flexible and Foldable OLED Market Report:

  • 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!

CNet tests the Galaxy Fold and shows that it lasts 120,00 aggressive folding cycles

Samsung recently re-launched its foldable OLED smartphone, the Galaxy Fold - and now the first reviews are coming in. CNet posted an interested video in which they put the Galaxy Fold to a folding cycles test, using a what seems to be an aggressive machine that folds and unfolds it quickly.

The Galaxy Fold lasted for 14 hours - or 120,000 folds. Samsung says its own tests show that the smartphone lasts for over 200,000 folds. So the CNet test falls short of that - but I have to say that CNet's machine seems rather more aggressive than a normal folding would be...

TechCrunch got a Galaxy Fold for review... and the screen got damaged within one day

Samsung recently re-launched its foldable OLED smartphone, the Galaxy Fold. The company took several months to redesign and make the phone more durable... but it seems as if things are perfect yet.

Screen damage at TechCrunch's Galaxy Fold (September 2019)

TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater got a review unit, and the screen got damaged within one day (27 hours, to be precise) of normal use - see photo above - there's a large defect at the center of the photo. Brian said he took good care of the device - just as Samsung suggests. Ironically, when Samsung launched the phone in April, Brian got a unit that worked okay for a few days (until Samsung collected the device back).

Samsung says there is unexpected demand for its Galaxy Fold phone in Korea

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.

Samsung Galaxy Fold photo

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.

An early review says that Samsung's Galaxy Fold is still highly fragile

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.

Samsung to start shipping the Galaxy Fold in Korea tomorrow

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. The company finally announced that it will start shipping the Galaxy Fold tomorrow, on September 6. Samsung will start rolling out its first foldable smartphone soon in more countries, including Europe and the US.

Samsung Galaxy Fold photo

It took Samsung around three months to re-design the phone and fix all the issues. Samsung updated the design and also upgraded the construction to better protect the device from external particles. Samsung also took the time to improve the user interface of its new, and optimized more apps and services for its unique foldable UX.

A leaked slide shows TCL is planning a foldable OLED smartphone for 2020

A leaked TCL smartphone roadmap shows that the China-based phone maker is planning to release a foldable AMOLED smartphone called FlexTab towards the end of 2020. The company is also aiming to release phones with edge-type flexible OLEDs earlier in the year.

TCL 2020 smartphone roadmap leaked slide
We do not know if this leaked image is authentic, but we do know that TCL demonstrated several foldable OLED prototypes earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress.

Huawei delays its foldable OLED Mate X smartphone again, will ship by November 2019

In February 2019 Huawei launched its first foldable smartphone, the Mate X with a 8" 2200x2480 foldable AMOLED display that folds outwards. Huawei originally said it will launch the Mate X by the end of June, but Huawei later said it plans to release it in September and now the company again delays the launch saying that the phone will launch by November.

Back in June Huawei said that it needs more time to test the device and make sure it is durable. It is likely that Huawei is still testing the device - or that Huawei did find some problems and now needs to fix these. It is also possible that the US ban on Huawei is behind this decision. In an

AUO to demonstrate its first ink-jet printed OLED, a 17.3" 120Hz 4K display

AU Optronics has been developing OLED ink-jet technologies for many years, according to reports, and has setup a 3.5-Gen pilot ink-jet OLED printing line. Today AUO announced that the company is going to showcase its first ink-jet printed OLED panel at Touch Taiwan 2019.

AUO inkjet printed 17.3'' 4K OLED display prototype photo

AUO will demonstrate a 17.3" 4K (225 PPI) OLED display that was produced using an ink-jet printing process. AUO says that the display features a 120Hz refresh rate, a wide color gamut and high brightness (that AUO did not yet specify). AUO will also showcase 5.6" foldable OLEDs that can be folded inwards or outwards for customized design according to client requirements. The display's folding radius is 4 mm and it can be folded over 200,000 times. AUO will also demonstrate a 12.1" LTPS Micro-LED prototype, which seems to be the same one shown in 2018.

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