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.
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, LG, Huawei 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.
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.
Samsung started shipping its flagship tablet the device, the Galaxy Tab S5e - Samsung's thinnest tablet yet at 5.5 mm. The S5e features a 10.5" WQXGA (2560x1600) Super AMOLED display with a 81.8% screen-to-body ratio.
DSCC says that OLED market revenues will grow from $26.5 billion in 2018 to $28.7 billion in 2019 and over $52 billion by 2023. The largest application will remain smartphone displays, but several other applications will generate over $1 billion in 2023 - TVs, tablets, notebooks and monitors. By area of production, TV displays will surpass smartphone displays in 2021.
Samsung is still (and will remain so) the dominant AMOLED display producer, even though its market share will drop from 97% in Q1 2018 to 81% in Q4 2019. In Q1 2019 Visionox surpassed LGD to become the 2nd largest AMOLED producer (but most of Visionox's panels are low-end 5.5-inch panels). DSCC expects LGD to regain its number 2 position in the second half of 2019. BOE is the third player and will remain so following its supply agreement with Huawei.
Huawei launched its first foldable smartphone, the Mate X with a glorious 8" 2200x2480 foldable AMOLED display that folds outwards. When closed, the phone operates as it has two displays - a 6.6" 1148x2480 on the front and a smaller 6.38" 2480x892 display on the back (which makes room for the cameras).
The Mate X specifications include 5G connectivity, a Kirin 980 octa-core chipset, 8 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage, a NM memory slot and a quad camera setup with Leica optics.
Samsung finally officially launched its Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone device. The Galaxy Fold features a 7.3" 1536 x 2152 foldable Infinity Flex AMOLED display that folds inside, in addition to a secondary cover display - a 4.6" 840×1960 Super AMOLED.
Besides the exciting foldable display, the phone/tablet device features an octa-core chipset, 12 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage, a large battery, triple camera setup on the back and dual front cameras.
BlurBusters posted an interesting article that uses high-speed video (960fps) capture to show the advantages of OLED displays over LCDs in terms of response time.
In the video above, you can see the almost instantaneous response times of the 10.5" 2560x1600 Super AMOLED display of Samsung's Galaxy Tab S4. In the video below, you can see the response time at 960fps of Apple's MacBook Pro 2015 (IPS LCD). Blurbusters explains that the Gray-to-Gray (GtG) response time of the OLED is around 0.1 ms - far better than the 5 ms one of the LCD.
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%).
Looking 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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.