Digitimes - Apple will introduce two new OLED iPhones in 2018

Apple's iPhone X sales were lower than expected, which resulted in a reduction of OLED display orders from SDC (from an estimated 40 million in Q1 2018 to 20 million). Several reports also suggested that Apple may decide to only introduce one new OLED iPhone model in 2018 (the larger 6.5" one, with panels made by LGD).

Apple iPhone X photo

One of these reports came from Taiwan's Digitimes, but a new report from Digitimes suggests that Apple does plan to upgrade its OLED iPhone X in 2018. According to Digitimes, Apple will introduce a slightly larger 5.9" OLED model. In total Apple will buy 110-130 OLED panels in 2018, for all three OLED models (the 2017 iPhone X, the 2018 5.9" iPhone XI and the larger 6.5" OLED iPhone XI plus).

Samsung aims to ship 43 million Galaxy S9 phones in 2018

Yesterday reports from Korea suggested that pre-orders for the Galaxy S9 in Korea are 30% lower compared to the pre-orders of the Galaxy S8 in 2017. The Korea Herald, however, today says that Samsung believes it will sell more Galaxy S9 phones than it did with the GS8.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus photo

The Korea Herald says that Samsung told its suppliers that its target is to sell 43 million GS9 (and GS9 plus) phones in 2018. In 2017, Samsung shipped 41 million GS8 and GS8 plus phones. In 2016, Samsung shipped 48 million GS7 phones, so even if it reaches its target of 43 million GS9 phones, it will still lag behind The GS7.

Galaxy S9 pre-orders in Korea are 30% lower than the S8 preorders in 2017

According to reports from Korea, pre-orders for the Galaxy S9 in Korea are 30% lower compared to the pre-orders of Samsung's Galaxy S8 in 2017. Yonhap news says that Korea's three largest carriers distributed only 180,000 GS9 phones, while at the same time last year these three companies distributed 260,00 GS8 phones.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus photo

Samsung did not yet disclose any pre-sales data. The GS9 has a flexible 5.8" 1440x2960 (570 PPI) Super AMOLED display (6.2", 529 PPI, on the S9 Plus). DisplayMate says that this display is the best mobile display ever tested, surprassing in quality the 5.8" flexible AMOLED used in the iPhone X.

DisplayMate: the Galaxy S9 has the world's best ever mobile display, setting several new display performance records

Samsung introduced its Galaxy S9 flagship phone a couple of days ago, with its flexible 5.8" 1440x2960 (570 PPI) Super AMOLED display (6.2", 529 PPI, on the S9 Plus).

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus photo

Display measurement experts from DisplayMate already tested the new display (with a pre-production GS9), and published a comprehensive report. As expected, Samsung continues to improve its OLED displays, and the GS9 again is announced by DisplayMate to be the world's best ever mobile display, better than the iPhone X OLED.

Doogee launches a phone with a Visionox 6.21" notch-type AMOLED display

China's Visionox introduced a new AMOLED display, a 6.21" 2160x1080 panel that has a notch-type design (similar to the OLED used in Apple's iPhone X).

Visionox 6.21'' notch-type flexible AMOLED panel

China's smartphone maker Doogee used this display in its new flagship Doogee V smartphone. The display enabled Doogee to achieve a very high screen-to-body ratio of 94.85%. The front of this phone has no physical buttons, and Doogee implemented an under-the-OLED fingerprint sensor under this 6.21" AMOLED.

Vivo shows a flexible OLED phone concept with almost no bezels

Vivo demonstrated a new concept device called the APEX, that includes several new innovative technologies. The most impressive is the front display, which is a 5.99" 2160×1440 flexible OLED display that is almost completely covers the front of the phone - the top and side bezels measure just 1.8 mm and the bottom is 4.3 mm.

Vivo APEX concept photo

This is an impressive design - but it causes some problems - for example there is no room for a selfie camera, and Vivo solved this via a pop-out camera unit (which looks like the popping flash units in pocket cameras). The design also leaves no room for a speaker - and Vivo designed a new Screen SoundCasting technology which vibrates the whole display, similar in a way to LG's CrystalSound TVs.

DSCC: it may be hard to justify the extra cost of flexible OLEDs compared to rigid OLEDs and LCDs

Display analyst firm DSCC posted an interested article stating that the latest range of bezel-less LCDs are very similar to the high-end flexible OLEDs in form (not in contrast or image quality), to the point that mid-smartphone makers find it hard to justify the extra cost of a flexible OLEDs. The following table graphs shows the current price gap between flexible OLEDs and LCDs:
Price of a smartphone flexible OLED vs rigid-OLED vs LCD (DSCC, Feb 2018)While a flexible OLED does enable a higher display-to-body ratio (82.9% on the iPhone X, for example), a high end LCD comes pretty close - the Oppo F5 reaches 78.1%.

CLSA sees lower demand for OLED displays in China in 2018, updates on OLED production ramp-up

Financial analysts from CLSA released an interesting short report about OLED demand in China. According to IDC, OLED smartphone shipments in China was down 6% in Q4 2017 (compared to Q4 2016) to 36 million units - in line with total Chinese smartphone weakness (-8% in the same period). Total OLED smartphone shipments in 2017 reached 128 million, up 8% compared to 2016. OLED penetration was up only 1% (to 15%) in 2017.

Oppo R11s photo

CLSA sees lower demand in 2018 and 2019 compared to early estimates - 175 million in 2018 and 225 million in 2019. That's 11% (2018) and 20% (2019) lower than CLSA's earlier estimates. CLSA is less optimistic than before regarding the ramp-up at Tianma, Truly and CSoT.

Chinese OLED makers shipped almost 10 million OLED panels in 2017

Market research company Sigmaintell estimates that China-based display makers shipped 9.8 million OLED displays in 2017, mostly for smartphone applications. Everdisplay was the largest producer in terms of units, shipping 3.8 million displays (enjoying large orders from Huawei and Hisense), while Visionox was the top vendor in terms of display area shipped (30,000 square meters, out of a total 78,000 sqm produced in China in 2017).

Everdisplay HQ and 5.5-Gen Fab photo

Looking into 2018, Sigmaintell sees a large increase in production volume in 2018. Visionox landed orders from ZTE and Xiaomi and is expanding its production capacity, and BOE is also expected to increase shipments from its flexible 6-Gen AMOLED fab that will enter full capacity in Q2 2018. Finally, Tianma is also expected to increase production having won orders from Asustek Computer.

Reports from Korea suggest that Apple decided to discontinue the iPhone X

We already heard several reports that Apple is reducing its OLED display orders from Samsung (from an estimated 40 million in Q1 2018 to 20 million) - following lower than expected iPhone X sales.

Apple iPhone X photo

New reports from Korea now suggest that Samsung display also announced to its own suppliers that it will not order any more parts for the iPhone X in H2 2018. It could mean that Apple is aiming to introduce new OLED phones in 2018, but the Korean reports say that it is also likely that Apple is not looking to introduce a new OLED iPhone in 2018 at all.