IHS: Apple is developing a new LTPO backplane, may introduce it in future iPhones

IHS posted an interesting article which details a new backplane technology that Apple is developing. So-called Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide (LTPO) combines both LTPS TFTs and Oxide TFTs (IGZO, Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide). LTPO is applicable for both OLED and LCD displays.

Apple LTPO OLED backplane (IHS slide)

In LTPO, the switching circuits are using LTPS while the driving TFTs will use IGZO materials. This could lead to a power saving of around 5-15% compared to the currently-used LTPS backplanes. The main drawback of LTPO, however, is that the IGZO TFTs are larger and so the display density may be compromised. IHS says that Apple may introduce this into future iPhones - but it also says that LTPO will be limited to low-density displays at first which is a bit confusing.

IHS sees flexible AMOLEDs taking over rigid ones in 2020

According to IHS, flexible AMOLED shipments reached 157.6 million units in 2018 - about 38.9% of the total AMOLED market (rigid + flexible). Flexible OLEDs will grow at a much faster rate than rigid OLEDs, and shipments will exceed those of rigid OLEDs by 2020 (335.7 million units). In 2022 over 400 million flexible AMOLED panels will be produced, compared to around 340 million rigid AMOLEDs.

Flexible AMOLED shipment forecast (2015-2022, IHS)

IHS sees demand for flexible OLEDs by smartphone brands that want to diffrentite their products using curved displays and full-screen ones. Foldable displays are also expected to be a key technology for mobile devices in the foreseeable future.

IHS: LGD is the world's leading AMOLED producer for wearables, followed by SDC, EDO, AUO and BOE

IHS says that LG Display is the world's leading AMOLED supplier for smartwatches and wearables. In 2017 LGD shipped 10.64 million AMOLED displays for smartwatches - and it holds a market share of 41.4% (the total market was 25.7 million units in 2017). LG is the exclusive supplier of AMOLED displays for Apple's watch.

Apple Watch Series 2 photo

Samsung Displays is the 2nd wearable AMOLED Producer, with a 34.8% market share. Everdisplay has a 16.2% share and AU Optronics shipped 5.7% of all wearable AMOLED shipments in 2017. BOE is the fifth largest AMOLED wearable maker with a market share of 1.5%.

IHS: notch-type OLEDs cost 25% higher than regular OLEDs, due to yield loss

IHS estimates that a notch-design increases the production cost of a smartphone display (whether LCD or OLED) by more than 20%. A notch-type 5.9" OLED (like in the iPhone X) costs $29, 25% higher than the cost of a regular 5.8" OLED.

Full display vs notch-type cost comparison (May 2018, IHS)

IHS explains that cutting the notch results in yield loss, which is the main driver of the higher costs (the panel itself, of course, is also larger before cutting the notch in the comparison IHS makes). In theory, cutting a plastic OLED is easier than the glass-based LCDs, and IHS forecasts that manufacturing costs for notch OLEDs will fall far more rapidly than the costs of notch LCDs.

IHS: the market for under-the-OLED fingerprint sensors will surge from 9 million units in 2018 to over 300 million in 2022

IHS says that smartphone makers are expected to increase their adoption of under-the-display fingerprint sensors. In 2018, 9 million such smartphones will be sold, but the market will grow extremely quickly and will reach over 100 million unit in 2019. By 2022, over 300 million such phones will ship.

Display fingerprint module shipments (2018-2022, IHS)

Under-the-display sensors are currently only applicable to OLED displays. Chinese phones makers (such as Vivo and Huawei) already started shipping the first phones to adopt this technology. IHS estimates that looking forward, the market will be led by Samsung and Chinese smartphone makers such as Vivo, Huawei and Xiaomi.

IHS: AMOLED area shipments to reach 22.4 million sqm in 2024

IHS estimates that AMOLED shipments (by area) reached 5 million square meters in 2017, and the market will grow to 22.4 million sqm by 2024.

AMOLED shipment area (2015-2024, IHS)

Growth in 2017 was driven by a doubling of AMOLED TV panel area shipments (from 800,000 sqm in 2016 to 1.6 million in 2017). By 2024, IHS expects OLED TV shipments to reach 12.5 million units.

IHS Market - demand for Oxide TFT backplanes grew 101% in 2017

IHS Markit says that demand for Oxide-TFT backplanes has surged over 100% in 2017, led by both LCDs and AMOLED TVs. The demand is expected to continue its growth although at lower rates and will reach 6.8 million billion sqm in 2020 (up from 1.7 billion sqm in 2017).

Oxide backplane demand, OLED+LCD (2016-2020, IHS)

OLED TV Oxide-TFT backplanes shipments (all from LG Display) grew 106% in 2017 while demand for LCD panels (mostly produced by Sharp) grew 98%, mostly led by Apple's adoption of Oxide-TFT LCDs in its iPads and notebooks.

IHS lowers its 2018 smartphone AMOLED market forecasts

IHS Markit announced that it is lowering its smartphone AMOLED market forecasts, following lower-than-expected iPhone X sales (mainly because of its high price). IHS says that OLED makers will need to lower production costs of both rigid and flexible AMOLED panels in order to compete with lower priced high-end LCDs.

Smartphone display shipments by technology (2016-2018, IHS)

IHS expected flexible OLED shipments to reach 167 million panels in 2018 - up 34% compared to 2017, but a much lower amount then the company's previous estimates. Total (rigid + flexible) OLED shipments in 2018 will grow 14% to 453 million.

IHS: OLED material revenues resumed growth in H2 2017, will reach $1.5 billion in 2020

IHS Markit says that OLED materials (emitters + stack materials) revenues reached $355 million in the second half of 2017, up 20% from the first half of the year. This followed a year and a half of stagnation in revenues (sale volume increased, but this was offset by price reductions).

OLED materials revenue forecast (2016-2020, IHS)

IHS expects the OLED materials market to continue growing in the near future, and revenues in the 2020 will reach about $1.5 billion. The growth will be driven by further Apple OLED adoption and increased OLED TV production.

IHS: OLED makers in China to more than double their capacity each year from 2018 to 2020

IHS estimates that Korean OLED makers (Samsung and LGD) will halt their OLED capacity expansion in 2018, but will resume adding capacity in 2019. Meanwhile China-based makers will continue their fast expansion plans in 2018-2020, and total AMOLED production capacity in China will grow from 228,000 sqm in 2016 to 8.3 million sqm in 2020, that's a CAGR of 145%!.

Newly-installed AMOLED capacity by country (2016-2020, IHS)

Interestingly IHS sees no real OLED production in Japan at least until 2020.

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