OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) is a display technology that is brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than an LCD display. OLEDs deliver the best picture quality ever and OLED displays have been used in smartphones, wearables and TVs.
Why are OLED displays better than LCDs?
- In OLED displays, each pixel emits light independently (in LCDs, there is a white backlight).
- The contrast ratio of OLEDs is much better than in LCD
- OLEDs offer a much faster refresh rate and better viewing angles (great for games!)
- OLEDs are thinner and lighter than LCDs, and can be made flexible, foldable, rollable and transparent.
- OLEDs are more efficient, as only lit pixels draw energy. A smart user interface can result in very power efficient OLED displays!
2019 - OLED laptops finally arrive
OLEDs are already very successful in smartphone displays (over 500 million panels produced annually, adopted in smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Sony and others), OLED TVs and wearables. While in early 2016 several laptop makers announced the first OLED laptops (such as the Lenovo X1 Yoga with its 14" 2550x1440 AMOLED and the HP Spectre X360 with its 13.3" 2560x1600 AMOLED display), these laptops were produced in small quantities and quickly discontinued.
In early 2019, Samsung finally announced it start mass producing OLED displays for laptops. The first displays will be 15.6" UHD (3840x2160) AMOLED panels that feature high contrast ratio, extreme color accuracy, full HDR compatibility, a very wide color gamut and remarkable outdoor visibility (for more details on Samsung's 2019 15.6" AMOLEDs, click here). SDC is targeting premium laptops, as these ultra high resolution panels are optimized for gaming, graphic design and video streaming.
Following Samsung's announcement, three companies quickly announced 15" OLED laptops - HP with its Spectre x360, Lenovo with the Yoga C730 and Dell with the XPS 15, Dell G7 15 and the Alienware m15. It is likely that at least some of these laptops will start shipping in March 2019 when SDC will actually start supplying the panels. Click here for our complete list of laptops with OLED displays.
What the future holds
If this first wave of OLED laptop displays will be successful, it is likely that Samsung will release more laptop displays - including smaller 13.3" OLEDs and 14" OLEDs. In addition we are looking forward to seeing laptops with flexible OLEDs and also ones with transparent displays (not sure why is that a good idea, but it sure looks great):
Image retention (burn-in)?
One of the major drawbacks of an OLED display is that because each pixel is driven independently and because the lifetime of an OLED emitter is limited, image retention (known as burn-in) is a real problem. A much-used pixel is less bright than a pixel that hasn't been driven a lot (for a more technical explanation, click here).
In computer user interface this is a problem - as some UI elements are quite fixed (toolbars, icons, etc). There are some technologies to handle this problem - for example by measurement and compensation. As OLED lifetime improves, image retention is also less visible - and it appears that as of 2019, the situation is improved enough that Samsung believes OLED can be adopted successful in laptop displays.
The latest OLED Laptop news:
UBI Research says that shipments of OLED displays reached 577.88 million in 2020, up 3.7% from 2019. Total OLED revenues in 2020 increased only 0.7% to $32.68 billion as average panel price was lower in 2020 (mostly in the smartphone market).
The main growth in the OLED industry in 2020 came from smartwatches and TVs markets. Smartphone and tablet display shipments actually decreased in 2020. In 2020, new market emerged - automotive displays, laptop displays and foldable devices.
Lenovo started shipping the $2,499 foldable ThinkPad X1 Fold laptop, and the first review is in. The ThinkPad X1 Fold is a Windows 10 Pro laptop that features a 13.3" 2048x1536 foldable OLED display (produced by LG Display). The X1 Fold features an Intel Core i5 chipset and a wireless keyboard.
T3 posted a review of this ground breaking device. The verdict in short? Very cool foldable display, it is a clever device - but the performance is not stellar and the display isn't bright enough.
Earlier this month we reported that China-based AMOLED producer EverDisplay (EDO) has become a public company. We have been a bit early, but the company is progressing on its IPO registration and has released some more information regarding is business.
The company is raising 10 billion Yuan ($1.5 billion USD) and most of these funds will be used to construct the company's new 6-Gen AMOLED line. As you can see in the image above, almost all the company's OLED panels are used in smartphones and wearables. But in 2020 the company also started to produce laptop and tablet displays - EDO recently started to make 11", 12.8" and 15.6" rigid and foldable AMOLED displays for laptop devices. We list many EDO OLED displays in the OLED Marketplace.
DSCC posted an interesting post with its latest views and forecasts on the OLED material market. The company expects AMOLED stack material sales to grow at a 18% CAGR in the next five years, from $294 million in 2019 to $2.46 billion in 2024. Compared to its previous estimate, DSCC sees higher sales as demand for OLED TVs and OLEDs in the IT market (tablets and notebooks) is increasing.
DSCC also posted an analysis of LGD's new evo OLED material stack. Compared to LGD's "standard" WOLED stack, the evo adds an emitting green layer to improve the brightness by 20%. This of course adds an extra material cost to the panel price.
The Elec reports that Samsung Display is planning to build a production line for notebook OLEDs, at its A4 factory in Asan, Korea. The Gen-6 production line will have a capacity of 30,000 monthly substrates.
SDC plans to start ordering production equipment in the summer of 2021, which means that the equipment will be installed within the year, or in early 2022. SDC is already producing laptop displays, so it expects the ramp up to be relatively quick.
Samsung Display announced it will start to produce 90Hz OLED laptop displays by the end of the first quarter of 2021. The first display panel to support this new refresh rate will be 14-inch in size
SDC hopes that its new AMOLED display panels will introduce a 'major shift' in the laptop market. It believes that even though a 90Hz display will require a high-end graphics card, consumers will demand the new display as the experience benefits will be impressive. Samsung says that its 90Hz OLEDs will be on par with 120Hz LCDs in terms of moving images blur.
Samsung Display is introducing a new OLED display technology, called "Samsung Blade Bezel" - which includes an under-the-display camera embedded within a laptop display. This enables reducing the bezels:
We have already seen similar technology from Visionox adopted in smartphones - but the performance is disappointing. A few months ago ZTE announced the first smartphone with an under-the-OLED camera - the The Axon 20 5G.
Samsung Display announced that the company plans to introduce more than 10 different AMOLED displays for the laptop market in 2021. The company will launch displays ranging from 13.3-inch to 16-inch to meet customer demand.
Samsung Display started producing 15.6" 4K AMOLED displays in 2019 for the laptop market, which kickstarted the OLED laptop market as several leading makers (including HP, Lenovo and Dell) started to offer high-end OLED laptops. Since then SDC added more OLED laptop displays to its lineup, and other OLED producers (such as EDO and BOE) started to offer laptop panels as well.
DSCC estimates that foldable OLED panel shipments will reach 3.1 million units in 2020, an increase of 454% from 2019. Revenues in 2020 will reach $462 million. DSCC decreased its estimates following the US restrictions on Huawei which prevented the launch of the Mate X2. The market will grow to 94 million panels by 2025 (a CAGR of 97% from 2018).
In early 2020 Lenovo announced the foldable ThinkPad Fold laptop, and the company is now starting to accept pre-orders for this innovative device which starts at $2,499.
The ThinkPad X1 Fold features a 13.3" 2048x1536 foldable OLED display that is produced by LG Display. LG's collaboration with Lenovo was announced in May 2019 - but interestingly in November 2019 BOE also said that it is collaborating with Lenovo and that it supplied Lenovo with the 13.3" foldable OLED it used in the prototype ThinkPad X1 foldable laptop it demonstrated in May 2019.