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:

Omdia sees 73 million foldable AMOLEDs displays shipped in 2025

Omdia says that the global foldable OLED display market will grow from 700,000 units to 3.9 million in 2020 (a 5X increase) - and will continue its fast growth to reach 73.1 million in 2025.

TCL foldable OLED device prototype, MWC 2019

Omdia says that the main challenge of the foldable OLED market is the reliability of the displays - mainly the cover, the touch sensor and the polarizer films. Display makers will need to adopt new technologies such as ultrathin glass covers (UTG), touch sensors on TFE and color filters on TFE

DSCC sees 5 million foldable OLEDs produced in 2020, over 77 million in 2025

DSCC says that the future will bring significant growth for foldable OLED displays - fueled by lower panel prices as production increases and yields improve, lower device prices and improved display reliability as devices improve.

DSCC sees meaningful improvements in devices starting in the second half of 2020. In 2020 around 5 million foldable devices (mostly smartphones) will ship, generating almost $1 billion in revenues. From 2020 to 2025, foldable display shipments will rise to 77 million units (a CAGR of 132%) and revenues will reach almost $8 billion (CAGR of 113%).

Huawei says it lost $60 million on its Mate Xs foldable smartphone in two months

Huawei launches its Mate Xs foldable smartphone in February 2020, with a 8" 2200x2480 foldable AMOLED display (produced by BOE). Huawei's consumer business CEO, Yu Chengdong, says taht even though the Mate Xs costs $2,400 the company lost around $60-70 million on this smartphone since its launch.

Huawei Mate X photo

The Mate Xs is an updated Mate X, with the same display and form factor, but with upgraded specifications.

OLED-Info's foldable, flexible, VR/AR, transparent, microdisplays and automotive OLED market reports updated to April 2020

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 April 2020.

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!

Samsung Electronics is looking to develop its own ulta-thin glass cover for foldable smartphones

Samsung Electronics's 2nd foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Z Flip, sports an ultra-thin glass cover, which replaced the polyimmide one used in its previous foldable, the Galaxy Fold. The UTG glass cover is produced by Korea-based Dowoo Insys, who processes Schott's ultra thin glass.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip photo

According to a new report from Korea, Samsung Electronics wants to develop its own UTG cover, as it feels the Dowoo Insys UTG is still not robust enough and the company also wants to increase production yields and reduce costs. SE is already in talks with several glass suppliers for this project.

Royole announces new foldable OLED displays with much improved specifications

Chinese OLED developer Royole announced its next-generation (3rd-Gen) fully flexible OLED displays, which it refers to as "Cicada Wing". Royole says that these new displays deliver significant improvements over its previous generation displays. The new displays have a material stack of over 100 layers.

Cicada Wing displays, compared to Royole's 2nd-Gen flexible OLEDs, offer 5X higher contrast, 50% higher brightness, 20% faster response time and a better color shift. It also offers a low brightness decay (Royole says it is 3.5X better then competing foldable OLEDs).

SDC expects demand for foldable OLEDs to soar, will increase production capacity to a million panels per month

Korean ETNews reports that Samsung is expecting higher demand for foldable OLED displays, and the company decided to increase its monthly production capacity from 260,000 units to around 600,000 by the end of May 2020, and over a million displays by the end of the year.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip photo

ETNews also reports that Samsung Electronics is planning to launch its third foldable smartphone later in 2020, and Chinese phone makers are also requesting foldable displays from SDC.

SDC: our ultra-thin glass is more durable than polyimide for foldable OLEDs

Earlier this month Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Flip, its 2nd foldable smartphone - and the 6.7" 1080x2636 inward foldable HDR "Dynamic AMOLED" display uses a flexible glass cover, as opposed to SDC's previous foldable OLEDs that used a flexible polyimide cover.

Samsung UTG logo

Samsung now says that it is branding its ultra-thin-glass foldable OLEDs as Samsung UTG. I'm not sure what to say regarding Samsung's slogan "Tough, yet Tender" which seems to be taken out of a completely different industry.

Motorola's foldable Razr 2019 is a week old - and reports of screen damage continue

In early February Motorola started shipping its $1,500 foldable OLED phone, the Razr 2019 - with its 6.2" 2142x876 (21:9) inside-foldable AMOLED display, produced by BOE. Initial reports suggested that the screen feels fragile - even more so than the screen of the Galaxy Fold.

Motorola Razr 2019 photo

Phone Radar now reports that only a week after getting the device, the plastic display is peeling off at the fold. iFixit tested the device, and scored it 1 out of 10 in terms of durability and fixability - and a simulated test suggested a failure at the hinge mechanism.