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.
At the end of last month, Xiaomi introduced its first foldable OLED device, the Mi Mix Fold smartphone, with a main 8.01-inch HDR10+ 1860x2480 AMOLED display that folds inwardly, and an external 6.52-inch 90Hz HDR10+ 840x2520 AMOLED display.
The Mi Mix Fold is now shipping in China, starting at around $1,500. According to Xiaomi, it has sold around 40,000 units in the first minute - generating over $61 million in revenue for the smartphone maker.
Chinese smartphone producer TCL unveiled an interesting new smartphone prototype (concept?) called the Fold ‘n’ Roll.
As you can see in the video, the device has a 6.87-inch OLED display when fully folded. It can open up (out-folding) into a 8.85-inch display, and then it can open even further to a 10-inch tablet-like device using a rolling mechanism. The display itself is produced by TCL's CSoT subsidiary.
LG Electronics announced that it will close its mobile phone business unit. LG has lost around $4.5 billion in its smartphone business over the past five years, as competition, especially from China, is strong. LG's global smartphone market share is around 2% and the company did not manage to find a buyer for its money-losing unit.
In the past few years LG aimed to focus on high-end phones with new designs, especially the Explorer series of next-generation phone designs and technologies. The first Explorer phone was the LG Wing, a unique smartphone that sports dual displays in a swivel revolving display design. The Wing sports a main 6.8-inch 2460x1080 flexible LGD P-OLED display and another 3.9-inch 1240x1080 G-OLED (LG's rigid OLED brand) display.
DSCC posted an interested article that details Samsung's upcoming polarizer-free OLEDs, which it brands as POL-LESS OLEDs. The first OLEDs to adopt this new structure are expected to be adopted in Samsung's Galaxy Fold 3 later this year.
In past years Apple had to pay millions of dollars to Samsung Display as a compensation for lower smartphone OLED orders. Apple is committed to buy a certain amount of displays, and this payment is a fine due to lower orders.
Due to lower OLED orders in 2021, analysts estimate that Apple, again, will have to compensate Samsung. The main fault is with lower sales of Apple's iPhone 12 mini. In total, according to reports, Apple reduced its OLED Orders for the iPhone 12 series by 20% to 75 million units in the first half of 2021.
Samsung also announced that in the past the company's priority was to improve the image quality and the design of its OLED displays. Moving forward, SDC will focus on lowering the power consumption of its OLED displays. SDC will do so by developing low-power materials and "optimizing power-efficient technologies".
Last month Huawei started shipping its second-generation foldable smartphone, the Mate X2, and the first review, from Android Authority is in. And the reviewer really likes the device - saying it may even be better than Samsung's own foldable smartphones.
The inner-folding 8-inch 90Hz 2480 x 2200 AMOLED is said to be beautiful, and it is completely flat when open - with a really minimal bezel that can barely be seen. According to the reviewer, that's a huge improvement over all other foldables they used. The phones feels very solid, in fact, and the hinge seems much more durable than before.
According to reports online, there's a global chip shortage, that is already effecting some industries - and is not threatening the supply of Samsung's smartphone AMOLED displays.
It seems as if high demand for chips due to the covid-19 pandemic, a water shortage in Taiwan and heavy snow in Texas all combined to create a shortage is chip supply. Samsung's Austin plant, which makes Qualcomm chips used in AMOLED drivers, has been halted since February 16th and this creates concern for Samsung's ability to supply enough AMOLED displays to satisfy demand.
According to Trendforce, smartphone brands will increase adoption of AMOLED displays in 2021, which will lead to a 39% market share for AMOLED displays in the total smartphone display market - up from 31% in 2019.
AMOLED displays are increasingly replacing high-end LTPS LCD displays in the high-end part of the smartphone market. The market share of lower-end a:Si LCD is quite stable.