An OLED display uses a new technology called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). OLED screens are brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than LCD or Plasma.
OLEDs are made by placing thin films of organic (carbon based) materials between two conductors. When an electrical current is applied, a bright light is emitted. Since the OLED materials emit light, a backlight is not required (unlike LCDs).
OLEDs in mobile phones
Mobile phones that boast OLED screens are rapidly becoming more prevalent, with over 500 million AMOLED screens produced in 2018 - mostly to satisfy demand from mobile phones. Samsung has been using AMOLEDs in its high-end phones for many years, and most phone makers are also starting to adopt OLED displays (including Apple, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Lenovo, Motorola, and others.
BOE says that its current flexible OLED market share is around 20%. The company says that it plans to increase its market share to 40% by 2024 - and become the world's leader in flexible OLED production by then. BOE estimates that the flexible OLED market will generate $49.7 billion in revenues in 2024.
Samsung started to adopt ultra-thin glass covers for its foldable AMOLEDs, instead of polyimide, as it says UTG offers higher durability. In the Galaxy Z Flip, Samsung used a UTG cover produced by Korea-based Dowoo Insys, who processes Schott's ultra thin glass for Samsung Display.
In April 2020 it was reported that Samsung Electronics wants to develop its own UTG cover technology, as as it feels that Samsung Display's UTG is still not robust enough and the company also wants to increase production yields and reduce costs. Now there are new reports from Korea that say that Samsung Electronics is collaborating with Corning in this new UTG project.
ZTE announced the Axon 20 5G, the first smartphone with an under-the-OLED camera. The Axon 20 5G features a full-screen 6.92-inch 1080x2460 90Hz AMOLED display and will ship in a few days in China for around $320.
The Axon 20 5G also sports an under-the-display fingerprint sensor - and ZTE says that it includes an "under-the-OLED" sound, which could mean that the OLED acts as a speaker membrane (in a similar way to LG's Crystal Sound Technology), but it is not clear exactly.
Xiaomi announced that it will start producing smartphones that adopt the company's Under-Display Camera technology next year. Xiaomi says that this is actually the company's third-gen under-the-OLED camera technology, that hasn't been adopted in mass market products yet.
Xiaomi says that it's latest development enabled the front camera to be completely disguised. This was achieved by a new pixel arrangement (with a large aperture ratio) developed by Xiaomi, and the optimization of the camera algorithms.
UBI Research estimates that OLED smartphone display shipments reached 87 million units in Q2 2020 (down 23.1% compared to Q2 2019, and down 17% compared to Q1 2020).
The drop in rigid OLED smartphone display shipments was 40.3% from Q2 2019 to Q2 2020 - due to a drop in mid-tier smartphone production in China. Flexible OLED shipments actually rose 38% from last year as you can see in the chart below.
The display measurements experts at DisplayMate tested a Note 20 Ultra phone, and reports that Samsung again improved its OLED display performance (it "raises the bar significantly higher", in fact) and this high performance display will be the competitive baseline for all upcoming smartphone displays.
Samsung Display announced a new OLED technology, called Adaptive Frequency that enables variable refresh rate in AMOLED displays - ranging from 10Hz to 120Hz. Running OLEDs at low refresh rates when possible can reduce the power consumption of the display (over all applications) by up to 22%.
This new display technology was applied for the first time in the Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G smartphone, announced earlier this month, with its 6.9-inch 1440x3088 Dynamic AMOLED.
Next up is the company's 2nd generation Galaxy Z Fold 2 that is an update to the original fold with a larger internal foldable display at 7.6" 1768x2208 HDR10+ 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED and also a larger 6.23" 816x2260 Super AMOLED cover display. The Fold 2 also improves the hinge design and sports an ultra-thin-glass cover (like the Galaxy Z Flip).
LG Display reported its financial results for Q2 2020 - with revenues up 12% over last quarter, as the company enjoyed an increase in demand for IT panels (monitors, notebooks, tablets). But lower demand for TVs and lower utilization at its POLED fabs increased LGD's operating loss.
LG Display says it expects its Q3 revenues and operation profit to improve - as mass production of OLED TV panels in Guangzhou finally started, and the company will ship pOLED panels to Apple's iPhone 12 in the next quarter. LG maintains its 4.5-5 million OLED TV panel shipment forecast for the whole of 2020.