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 annually - 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 adopting OLED displays (including Apple, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Lenovo, Motorola, and others).
OLED displays are advancing quickly, and today smartphone AMOLED displays outperform LCDs in all parameters - except the price which is still at a premium.
UBI Research estimates that Samsung Display shipped 124.76 million smartphone AMOLED panels in Q3 2021, an increase of 24.6% from the previous quarter, enjoying high demand from Apple for its iPhone 13 series.
SDC produced and shipped 62.63 million rigid panels (or about 50% of its total shipments), for low-end and mid-tier smartphones. Flexible OLED shipments were 58.2 million units (out of which 39.31 million went to Apple), and foldable OLEDs shipments reached 3.93 million units.
Our friends at DisplayMate posted an in-depth technical review of the iPhone 13 Pro Max display. The 6.7-inch 1284x2778 10Hz-120Hz 1200 nits LTPO AMOLED receives DisplayMate's highest display performance grade of A+.
DisplayMate says that the new display outperforms the display adopted by Apple in last year's iPhone 12 Pro Max. The iPhone 13 Pro display's new adaptive 120Hz refresh rate which results in a 25% boost to power efficiency. The new display is also brighter by 27% and enjoys a higher absolute color accuracy. The size of the notch was also reduced by 20%.
According to reports from Korea, Apple has given BOE a "conditional approval" for iPhone panel supply. BOE hasn't been able to meet 100% of Apple's requirements, but it is now given time to fix these issues, and may be able to become a supplier to Apple if all goes well.
Even if BOE manage to satisfy Apple, it will take some time and so it is likely that it won't receive large orders for the iPhone 13 series. Apple currently buys all of its iPhone AMOLED panels from Samsung Display and LG Display. BOE aims to supply the panels for the standard iPhone 13 (not the Pro series).
Apple introduced its latest iPhones, with four models, all featuring AMOLED displays. We'll start with the iPhone 13 which features a 6.1" Super Retina 1200 nits 1170x2532 (460 PPI) AMOLED display. The iPhone 13 mini offer similar specifications, with a 5.4" 1080x2340 1200 nits AMOLED (476 PPI) displays.
DSCC says that demand for Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is very strong in Korea, with pre-orders in the first seven days reaching over 900,000 units. Demand in India is strong as well.
DSCC sees Samsung's foldable OLED production volume up dramatically from July compared to last year. In fact the volume in July was higher than the combined volume of the production in January-July 2021. From August 2021, DSCC sees production of over 1 million foldablephones per month.
DSCC says that OLED shipments in the second quarter of 2021 rose 36% over last year (but decreased 10% compared to Q1 2021). New smartphone launches by Samsung, Apple and Google will drive the growth at the second half of 2021.
Samsung Display is still the leading smartphone OLED producer, with a market share of 73.5% in Q2 2021. BOE was at second place with a 6.7% share.
According to reports from China, TCL will start supplying smartphone AMOLED panels to Samsung Electronics. TCL is already supplying LCDs to Samsung (for both phones and TVs), but this is the first time it will supply OLEDs as well.
Samsung is looking to lower its smartphones production costs, and so it widens its OLED supply chain. Up until now, the company relied 100% on AMOLEDs produced by Samsung Display, but earlier this year it started to buy OLED panels from BOE.
Samsung Display announced its latest OLED panel, the Eco²OLED, which increase light output by 33% compared to SDC's previous OLED panels. The increase light translates into a power consumption reduction of up to 25%.
For the Eco²OLED panel, Samsung finally managed to commercialize a polarizer-free OLED, after many years of R&D. The first phone to adopt this display will be Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Fold 3. Interestingly Samsung says that the new design also enabled it to incorporate a high-quality under-the-display camera as more light is entered through the OLED.
Samsung announced several new OLED devices, including its two new foldable smartphones. First up is the Galaxy Z Fold3, which features a 7.6-inch 1768x2208 120Hz 1200 nits foldable Dynamic AMOLED X2 display, and a 6.2-inch 120Hz 832x2268 external AMOLED display. The foldable phone sports Samsung's first under-the-display selfie camera.
Samsung says that the new Galaxy Fold has an improved hinge design and is more durable compared to previous generation devices. The second phone is the Galaxy Flip3, which features a 6.7-inch 120Hz 1200 nits 1080x2640 foldable Dynamic AMOLED display, and an external 1.9" 260x512 Super AMOLED display.