Foldable OLED displays can be bent by the user. These innovative displays enable new form factors, such as - such as phones that open into tablets, smart bands that open into smartphones and laptops with large displays. In 2019 the first foldable smartphones were launched, and after a rocky start, device markers are now introducing new devices to market as analysts expect increased adoption in the future.
In 2019 Samsung finally introduced the first device, the Galaxy Fold - which had a problematic launch. Since then Samsung followed up with several new foldable phones, for example the Galaxy Z Fold 2 which sports an internal foldable display at 7.6" 1768x2208 HDR10+ 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED and also a larger 6.23" 816x2260 Super AMOLED cover display. Samsung also launched the clamshell-style Galaxy Z Flip.
Several companies offer foldable phones besides Samsung, including Motorola, Huawei and others. Huawei for example launched the Mate X2 in 2021, which features an inside-folding AMOLED display, a 8-inch 90Hz 2480 x 2200 one. There is also an external 6.45-inch 1160 x 2700 90Hz (240Hz touch sampling rate) AMOLED display.
Foldable OLED laptops
Foldable OLED laptops is another promising market segment. In 2021 Lenovo started shipping the $2,499 foldable ThinkPad X1 Fold laptop, with its 13.3" 2048x1536 foldable OLED display (produced by LG Display). Hopefully more companies will follow suit and we'll see more such devices on the market soon.
The foldable OLED industry & market
If you want to learn more about the foldable OLED technology, industry and market, 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:
DSCC sees a $63 billion OLED market in 2026, driven by high demand for laptop, monitor and tablet displays
DSCC has released its latest OLED market forecast, and the company forecasts a 8% CAGR revenue growth, with the market reaching $64 billion in revenue in 2026. The growth will be fueled by high demand for laptop, monitor and tablet displays. The smartphone and OLED TV market will also continue to grow.
DSCC sees a 31% CAGR shipment growth for laptop displays, to reach around $2.4 billion in 2026, and a 95% CAGR unit growth for monitor OLED displays, which will reach $1.3 billion in 2026 (up from $200 million in 2022). This is fast growth for monitor OLED displays, but slower than DSCC previously estimated, due to competition for miniLEDs, rigid OLED capacity that will be used for laptops and tablets and lower demand to mirroring display monitors.
At CES 2022, TCL unveiled a new clamshell foldable phone concept it refers to as TCL Flex V, which the company hopes to commercialize with a relatively low price tag of around $600-$700.
This seems to be an early stage project, but the current prototype shown at CES used an OLED display that looks to be around 6-inch size with a resolution of 1080x2400. There's also a small external display for when the phone is closed. The phone has a Snapdragon 765G chipset and dual cameras on the back.
Samsung Display showed new foldable and rollable OLED device prototypes at CES 2022, using the new Flex branding it launched in November 2021.
So first up with have the Flex Slidable, which is a smartphone type device that opens up to a wider display. The second display is the Flex S which is a foldable device that folds twice, once inwardly and once outwardly, in an "S" shape.
As demand for foldable phones is increasing, Samsung Display is reportedly planning to add three more module production lines in Vietnam to expand its capacity. Once these three new lines are added, SDC will have 10 foldable OLED module production lines in Vietnam.
SDC's current monthly foldable OLED module production capacity is around 1.5 million units, and these new lines will expand SDC's capacity to 2 million units. SDC expects to install the new equipment in 2022. This will help the company reach its target of 18 million foldable OLED panel shipments next year.
DSCC says that Q3 2021 was a record quarter for foldable smartphones - with shipments growing 215% from Q2 2021 and 480% from Q3 2020 to reach 2.6 million units. Samsung Electronics controls the market with a 93% share, followed by Huawei (6%).
DSCC expects the growth to continue and shipments in Q4 will reach almost 4 million units. Looking at specific models, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 has a 60% share, followed by the Galaxy Z Fold 3 with a 23% share.
UBI Research estimates that Samsung Display will increase its foldable OLED panel production from ~8 million units in 2021 to 18 million panels in 2022. This will enable Samsung Electronics to increase its foldable phone shipments from around 7 million in 2021 to over 14 million in 2022.
As SDC's foldable panel capacity increases, the company will also have to increase is foldable OLED module production capacity, and the UTG glass processing capacity at Dowoo insys. subsidiary.
UBI Research estimates that Samsung Display shipped 124.76 million smartphone AMOLED panels in Q3 2021, an increase of 24.6% from the previous quarter, enjoying high demand from Apple for its iPhone 13 series.
SDC produced and shipped 62.63 million rigid panels (or about 50% of its total shipments), for low-end and mid-tier smartphones. Flexible OLED shipments were 58.2 million units (out of which 39.31 million went to Apple), and foldable OLEDs shipments reached 3.93 million units.
LG Chem developed a PET-based foldable OLED cover film, says it is more durable than Polyimide and UTG
LG Chem announced that it has developed a new PET-based foldable OLED cover film. LGC says its new film is thinner and more durable than both polyimide films and Ultra-Thin Glass, currently used in foldable OLEDs.
LG Chem designed new materials, which are coated on both sides of the PET film to strengthen its heat resistance and mechanical properties. The company says the new film withstands over 200,000 folding cycles.
At the iMID 2021 conference in Korea, Samsung Display demonstrated a speaker that uses a 12.4" folding-out AMOLED display:
The AI-powered speaker device connects to your phone and can unfold to show a larger image.
Samsung Display announced its latest OLED panel, the Eco²OLED, which increase light output by 33% compared to SDC's previous OLED panels. The increase light translates into a power consumption reduction of up to 25%.
For the Eco²OLED panel, Samsung finally managed to commercialize a polarizer-free OLED, after many years of R&D. The first phone to adopt this display will be Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Fold 3. Interestingly Samsung says that the new design also enabled it to incorporate a high-quality under-the-display camera as more light is entered through the OLED.