What is an OLED display?

OLED is short for Organic Light Emitting Diode, a device composed of thin carbon-based films placed between two electrodes that creates light with the application of electricity. Unlike other screen technologies, (like LCDs), which require backlighting, OLED displays are emissive devices - they emit light rather than manipulate transmitted external light.

OLEDs provide brighter, crisper colors and contrast on electronic devices and use less power than conventional light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or liquid crystal displays (LCDs) used today. This revolutionary technology is fit for various types of screens, like computer screens, mobile phones, tablets, TVs and more. OLED screens are light, thin, high-resolution and contain individually-lit pixels that make for true blacks and superior color contrast. Since they also consume much less power than LCDs and can be made flexible, it seems OLEDs are the choice of the future.

OLEDs do, however, have several downsides. For starters, they are currently relatively expensive due to high manufacturing costs - and the larger display, the larger the premium over LCDs. OLED are also quite sensitive to oxygen/water damage and may suffer from burn-in (an image that is displayed for a long time might leave a permanent mark on the screen). It’s important to say that with the extensive work being put into OLED technology, it is indeed improving very rapidly and these weaknesses will probably be dealt with in the future.

The current OLED tablet market

OLED displays are already very common on mobile phones (in fact about a quarter of all mobile phones now ship with an OLED - and that percentage is climbing as Apple, Samsung, Huawei Lenovo and others adopt OLED displays in their best smartphones).

OLEDs are just now starting to make inroads into the tablet market, though - as these larger displays carry a high premium over competing LCDs. The leading company that produces and adopts OLEDs is Samsung, and indeed the company's latest high-end tablets all use OLED displays.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, for example, introduced in February 2017 is a Android (v7) tablet that is optimized for gaming and entertainment. It features a 9.7" QXGA (2048x1536) Super AMOLED display, a quad-core Snapdragon 820 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, microSD slot and quad-stereo speakers. The Tab S3 is now shipping for $699 (Wi-Fi edition).



Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 photo

Another example is Lenovo's X1 Yoga 2017 edition - which is a hybrid tablet / laptop that has a 14" 2560 x 1440 display - either an LCD or an OLED. The OLED model (256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and an intel Core i7 CPU) costs $2349.

Lenovo X1 Yoga 2017 photo

Click here for a full list of the latest OLED tablets on the market.

Latest OLED Tablet news

DSCC: the OLED market will grow 19% in 2019 to reach $31 billion in revenues

DSCC estimates that the AMOLED market will grow 19% in 2019 to reach $31 billion, up from $26.5 billion in 2018. OLED revenues will continue to grow and reach $48.8 billion in 2022 (a CAGR of 16%).

OLED panel revenue by type, (2016-2022, DSCC)

Look at OLED unit shipments and area production, 2019 will see a 22% growth in unit shipments to 610 million panels and a 35% growth in area to 9 million square meters. Area shipments will grow faster than revenues as OLED selling prices will continue to decline - and as OLED TVs take up a larger share of the OLED market.

Samsung progresses with its inkjet printing OLED technology, to apply it to next-generation monitors and laptops

According to ETNews, Samsung Display has made significant progress with its OLED ink-jet printing process technology, and the company now aims to apply this technology to produce medium-sized panels for OLED laptops and OLED monitors. Samsung may also use this process to produce smaller tablet displays.

Kateeva YIELDJet TFE system photo

It seems that Samsung is aiming to settle on three main next-generation OLED technologies - evaporation (FMM) OLEDs for small-sized display, ink-jet OLED deposition for medium-sized panels and hybrid QD-OLEDs for large-area OLED TV panels. It's other display technologies are QD-LEDs for TVs and Micro-LEDs for next-generation small and large area displays.

OLED Automotive Market Report

Royole launches a foldable smartphone/tablet developer device

US and China based Royole launched the world's first foldable OLED device - the FlexPai phone/tablet. The FlexPai has a 7.8" 1920x1440 (308 PPI) AMOLED display, when unfolded, The display folds outwards, and when folded the device has three different displays (front, back and spine).

Royole FlexPai developer device photo

Royole is now accepting pre-orders for the "Developer Mode" device, starting at $1318 for the 128GB model. The first devices will ship in late December 2018. The company said the device has passed bending, twisting and tension tests over 200,000 times, and the display is much more durable compared to current displays (as it is not covered by glass).

ETNews: LGD and Lenovo are developing a foldable 13" tablet, will ship by the end of 2019

According to a report from ETNews, LG Display is collaborating with Lenovo to develop a foldable tablet. The tablet will use a 13" foldable OLED - which LGD aims to start producing in the second half of 2019.

The 13" display will be around 9" when folded. So this device will stay in the tablet size category when folded, this will not compete in the smartphone market. This is the first time we hear of such a device under development - which could make sense as a tablet is not used as much as a smartphone is - and so the number of supported folding cycles can be lower.

Who will win the foldable smartphone race?

In 2013, Samsung announced its YOUM flexible OLED brand, showing off several flexible OLED prototypes - including a foldable phone/tablet. Samsung never used the YOUM brand name again, but the foldable smartphone concept presented in 2013 (see image below) is still exciting consumers - and many of them are still waiting for Samsung to commercialize the technology.

Fast forward to 2015, and the first reports of Samsung's Project Valley started to surface. Samsung started to actually develop a foldable phone, with plans to release its first device in 2016. Samsung faced many challenges - and delays - in its foldable smartphone project (which was recently renamed to Project Winner) - including problems with the substrate and the software and user interface.

Samsung's unbreakable OLED display certified by the US Department of Labor

Samsung Display announced that its unbreakable smartphone panel has been certified Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the official testing company for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor. This display was first demonstrated at SID 2018.

This display is not aimed for just smartphones - SDC sees it being used in the automotive market, the defense market, portable game consoles and tablet PCs. The display is a flexible AMOLED on an "unbreakable" substrate with an overlay plastic window securely adhered to it.

ETNews: SDC will make 100,000 foldable OLEDs in 2018, 1 million in 2019

Samsung Display is expected to begin foldable OLED production towards the end of 2018, as Samsung Electronics plans to begin selling foldable phones in the beginning of 2019. A new report from Korea's ETNews gives some new information on Samsung's plans.

According to ETNews, Samsung will soon be ready to start producing foldable OLEDs in a new pilot line in its A3 flexible OLED line. In 2018 the company will only be able to produce 100,000 units, and in 2019 the capacity will be about 1 million. It seems that Samsung is in a hurry to have a product out, and is currently ready to start production with low yields and high production costs (according to GBI estimates, the first foldable phone/tablet will cost over $1,800).

DSCC: OLED equipment spending to continue and decline, strong demand to return only in 2020

DSCC updated its forecast for display equipment spending, saying that in 2018 OLED spending is expected to fall 28% compared to 2017 to $10.8 billion (while LCD spending will grow 22% to $11.4 billion). China-based display makers will account for 90% of all display related equipment spending in 2018.

Display equipment spending by technology (2016-2021, DSCC)

2019 will see another down year for OLED spending that will drop 31% to $7.4 billion (LCD spending is also expected to fall by 32%). Chinese display makers will again lead in spending (77% of the market).

BOE demonstrate its latest flexible and foldable OLEDs at SID 2018

China-based BOE Display had an impressive booth at SID, where it displayed the company's latest displays. The company's flexible and foldable OLED prototypes and panels took center stage, as BOE is ramping up its flexible OLED production and is also developing its next generation technologies.

BOE's foldable prototype was a 6.2" WQHD (1440x3008, 538 PPI) panel that features a fold-radius of 1R and include a touch layer. The display has a super narrow border, and is 0.21 mm thick. BOE says that it can withstand over 100,000 bending cycles.

UBI: foldable OLED devices could disrupt the tablet market

UBI Research says that foldable OLED display production will begin in 2019, and will quickly grow to over 28 million units shipped in 2022. The growth will be fast - but in total UBI sees the market remaining relatively small even at 2022, with most OLEDs on the marketing to remain flexible but not foldable.

Foldable OLED shipments forecast (2018-2022, UBI)

UBI says that if OLED makers will be able to launch and commercialize foldable OLEDs, it could seriously disrupt the tablet PC market. The company expects the first foldable phone to use dual 5.2" displays (7.2" display when open) on the inside, with an additional small "bar-type" display when closed.