Article last updated on: Aug 11, 2019

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.

HP Spectre x360 15 photo

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.

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S photo

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.

Further reading

The latest OLED Laptop news:

Lenovo starts accepting pre-orders for the foldable ThinkPad Fold

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. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold photo

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.

Asus launches four new laptops with AMOLED displays

Asus announced its new 2020 laptops, with four models that use OLED displays. The convertible laptops, ZenBook Flip S (UX371) and ZenBook Flip 13 (UX363) feature a "NanoEdge" 13.3" UHD AMOLED display. The ZenBook Flip 15 (UX564) is a larger convertible laptop that features a 15-inch 4K OLED NanoEdge display.

Asus Zenbook Flip S UX371 photo

The 2020 Asus ZenBook Pro 15 (UX535) is said to be the world's smallest laptop that features a 15.6" 4K OLED display. It also features 10th-generation Intel Core i7 and i5 H-series processors.

EDO starts producing tablet and laptop rigid and flexible AMOLEDs, available on the OLED Marketplace

China-based EverDisplay (EDO) has recently started to produce AMOLED displays for tablets and laptops. The first rigid AMOLEDs are a 11" 1728x2368 and 15.6" 3840x2160 4K rigid displays for tablets and laptops. The first flexible ones are a 12.8" 1888x1728 panel for tablet-like devices and a 15.6" 3840x2160 4K flexible AMOLED for laptops.

Everdisplay 6-gen flexible OLED fab Shanghai (render)

These new 11", 12.8" and 15.6" AMOLEDs are now available in the OLED Marketplace. This is great news from EDO, as up until now Samsung Display was the exclusive supplier of AMOLEDs for tablets and laptops. If you are interested in this display for your device or new project, contact us now, or check out more information over at the OLED Marketplace.

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.

Foldable OLED panel shipments forecast (2018-2025, DSCC)

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%).

DSCC details their 2020 OLED market estimates

DSCC says that OLED area shipments will grow in 2020 to around 10.5 million square meters, up from 8 million square meters in 2019 - a growth of around 31%. In terms of revenues, the OLED market will grow 35% in 2020 to reach $37.6 billion. DSCC says that in 2020, 731 million OLEDs will be produced (up 27% from 2019).

OLED panels area shipments (2016-2020, DSCC)

Smartphone revenues will reach $30.7 billion in 2019 (up 35% from 2019) while TV revenues will grow 28% to $3.2 billion. Smartwatch revenues will increase 11% in 2020 to $2 billlion. The revenues for all other OLED applications are expected to increase by 69% in 2020 to $1.6 billion, mainly driven by laptop OLED displays.

DSCC: 577 million OLED panels shipped in 2019, generating $27.9 billion

DSCC says that OLED panel revenues in Q4 2019 reached $8.1 billion, down 2% from Q3 2019 and pretty much the same as in Q4 2018. In terms of units, DSCC says that in Q4 2019 124 million smartphone panels were shipped, 31 million wearable panels and 998,000 TV panels.

OLED panel revenue (2016-2019, DSCC)

Smartphone revenues in Q4 2019 were down 2% from Q4 2018 (due to lower average sales price for both rigid and flexible panels, the number of panels actually increased 4%), and revenues for TVs were up 30% (to $752 million). Smartwatches remain the 3rd largest market for OLED panels, and experienced strong growth in 2019, but it seems as if the growth may have plateaued (in Q4 the revenues were down 7% from last year).

Lenovo unveils a 13.3" foldable OLED laptop, to ship mid-2020

Lenovo unveiled the world's first foldable laptop - the ThinkPad X1 Fold. This is a Windows 10 Pro laptop that uses a 13.3" 2048x1536 foldable OLED display. The X1 Fold features an Intel chipset (unspecified yet) and a wireless keyboard. The battery life should be about 11 hours.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold photo

Lenovo says the ThinkPad X1 Fold will ship in mid-2020 starting at $2,499. Lenovo reveals that LG Display is the producer of the foldable display.

Intel shows a foldable concept device with a 17.3-inch OLED display

Intel unveiled a new concept device called the Horseshow Bend, which uses a 17.3" foldable OLED display that folds into a 12" display. The device is based on Intel's upcoming "Tiger Lake" mobile processors.

Intel says that the Horseshoe Bend can be used in a number of postures for varying user experiences: laptop, all-in-one, lay-flat, canvas or book. It has also been developed with a detachable keyboard that fit seamlessly into the device when folded for easy transport.

Kyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emittersKyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emitters