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.
CNet reports that TCL was supposed to demonstrate a novel smartphone design next week (at the cancelled MWC event) that uses an "expandable" sliding OLED display. The idea is basically the same as in the first crop of foldable OLEDs - provide a phone that can open up to a tablet-size device:
Apparently TCL was supposed to show a working demonstration. Such a design will likely require a screen that is folded in two places or some sort of rollable display - which is possible but more difficult to actually commercialize compared to a screen that folds inwardly or outwardly in a single position.
Samsung recently announced its latest flagship phone series, the Galaxy S20. Our display measurement friends from DisplayMate tested the new display - and unsurprisingly it turns out that the new Samsung Display AMOLED displays are very impressive - and they earn DisplayMate's highest ever display performance grade.
DisplayMate tested the Galaxy S20 Ultra, with its 6.9" 1440x3200 (511 PPI), 120Hz, Dynamic AMOLED display. The display has "close to text book perfect" calibration accuracy and its performance is visually indistinguishable from perfect. The new Samsung OLED display is setting or matching 12 smartphone display performance records.
Yesterday Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Flip, its 2nd foldable smartphone, features a 6.7" 1080x2636 inward foldable HDR "Dynamic AMOLED" display. The external display is a small 1.1" 112x300 Super AMOLED. The Galaxy Z Flip will ship on February 14th, starting at $1,380 in the US.
Besides the new form factor, the Z Flip uses an ultra-thin glass cover - unlike the Galaxy Fold which used a plastic one. At least according to The Verge, this makes for a big improvement - it feels better, can't easily be "marked-up" by a fingernail and there's no visible crease. The Z Flip also feels much more refined - with no creaking and with a solid-feeling hinge.
Yesterday Motorola started shipping its $1,500 foldable OLED phone, the Razr 2019. The Razr 2019 features a 6.2" 2142x876 (21:9) foldable AMOLED display that folds inside, produced by BOE. There's also a regular external 2.7" 600x800 AMOLED used when the phone is closed.
Initial reviews are appearing online. Android Central's Nirave Gondhia tested one such phone, and he says that the Razr's screen feels fragile, even more so than the screen of his Galaxy Fold. While he likes how the device folds, he says that as the screen shifts along the hinge, the feedback on the screen feel strange and it feels as if the screen could be damaged by the folding over the long term.
LG Display posted its financial results for Q4 2019, with a lower-than-expected loss of $361.6 million and revenues of $5.4 billion - a 10% increase over last quarter, driven by a rise in sales of OLED TVs and smartphone OLEDs.
LGD has given an optimistic forecast for 2020 as it sees higher demand for its OLED TV and mobile P-OLED panels. LGD expects its OLED TV panel revenue to "rise steeply" as its Guangzhou OLED TV fab increases its production - LGD now says it expects the fab to start mass production in March 2020.
In May 2019 OnePlus launched the OnePlus 7 Pro - a flagship smartphone that features a large 6.67" 90Hz 1440x3120 Fluid AMOLED - a 90Hz Super AMOLED (produced by Samsung Display).
OnePlus now officially announced that its next phone (the OnePlus 8) will feature a high-end AMOLED, developed in collaboration with Samsung, that will feature a refresh rate of 120Hz, a peak brightness of 1,000 nits, 10-bit color support and a 2K+ resolution. OnePlus again brands its Super AMOLED displays as Fluid Display. The touch sample rate will be 240Hz and the phone will include a hardware MEMC smooth-video accelerator.
Huawei's Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro smartphones, released in September 2019, sported AMOLED displays made by Samsung Display (rigid 6.62" 1080x2340) and BOE (flexible 6.53" 1176x2400, the Mate 30 Pro).
According to a report from Korea, Huawei will soon launch its next flagship phones, the Mate 40 and Mate 40 Pro - and the flexible OLEDs used in the Mate 40 Pro will be supplied by Samsung and LG Display (50% split). This is an interesting achievement by the Korean OLED makers and likely quite a blow for BOE. Apparently BOE could not match Huawei's requirement for this curved OLED display.
IHS Markit says that smartphone AMOLED shipments reached 146 million in Q3 2019 - a record high, and up from 93 million in the second quarter. LTPS LCD shipments reached 144 million - and this is the first quarter in which AMOLED shipments surpassed LTPS LCD shipments. a-SI LCD is still the leading technology with shipments of 177 million.
Following the increased demand for AMOLED displays, Samsung Display regained its leading position in the market (with a 29% market share), replacing BOE. The third largest suppler is Tianma.
New images were leaked on Chinese media, showing a new foldable phone design - that is reportedly made by Samsung. This could be the company's upcoming second foldable phone (the Galaxy Fold 2 perhaps?).
The design looks somewhat similar to the clamshell Motorola Razr 2019 - but in Samsung's design (if this is indeed a Samsung phone) there is only a very small external display for notifications - which looks to be a white PMOLED.