OLED displays use organic materials that emit light when electricity is applied. OLEDs enable emissive, bright, thin, flexible and efficient displays - and so OLEDs are set to replace LCDs in all display applications - from small displays to large TV sets.
AMOLED displays today are used in many applications - and are most common in smartphones. Samsung for example uses AMOLED displays in most of its high-end phones, including the latest Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus and the Note 9. Apple's new iPhones, SmarthWatches, and the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar are all using AMOLEDs. Other AMOLED devices include smartphones from Huawie, Sony, Xiaomi and others.
AMOLED displays are also used in OLED TVs - which are mostly available from LG. OLED TV screens range from 55" to 77" (88" 8K ones are coming in 2019), and are considered to be the best TV panels ever produced. In 2019 we will have the first rollable OLED TV - LG's 65" Signature OLED R.
AMOLED: Active Matrix OLED
The term AMOLED means Active-Matrix OLED. The 'active-matrix' part refers to the driving electronics, or the TFT layer. When you display an image, you actually display it line by line (sequentially) as you can only change one line at a time. An AMOLED uses a TFT which contains a storage capacitor which maintains the line pixel states, and so enables large size (and large resolution) displays.
AMOLED vs PMOLED
A PMOLED uses a simpler kind of driver electronics - without a storage capacitor. This means that each line is turned off when you move to the next line. So let's say you have 10 rows in your display - each row will only be on 1/10 of the time. The brightness of each row has to be 10 times the brightness you'd get in an AMOLED. So you use more voltage which shortens the lifetime of the OLED materials and also results in a less efficient display. So while PMOLEDs are cheaper to make than AMOLEDs they are limited in size and resolution (the largest PMOLED is only 5", and most of them are around 1" to 3"). Most PMOLEDs are used for character display, and not to show photos or videos.
Flexible, foldable and rollable AMOLEDs
One of the main advantages of AMOLED displays is that they can be made flexible. Flexible AMOLEDs are already popular for many years in smartphones and wearables, and in 2019 we will experience the first foldable devices and rollable screens.
Several companies are developing large transparent AMOLED displays - and in past years we've seen many prototypes - including a large 55" Full-HD transparent TV. But this technology is not commercial yet, mostly it seems because there are no useful applications that will convince the display makers to mass produce such panels.
Looking to buy an AMOLED display?
Are you looking to adopt an AMOLED display for your device? Several producers are already making panels - including Samsung Display, LG Display, EverDisplay, Truly, Visionox and more. AMOLEDs on the market range from small 1-inch ones for smartwatches through large OLEDs used in tablets and laptops - to large TV panels.
OLED-Info offers the OLED Marketplace, the world's most comprehensive OLED catalog. Just browse the available panels, and let us help you secure the best supplier for your needs.
The latest AMOLED news:
Many device makers have been seeking 2 to 4 inch AMOLED displays for a long time, as most display makers are focusing on either smartphone-sized displays or wearable ones. We have some good news on that front - China's Everdisplay has started to produce 1.91" 240x536 AMOLED displays, and these are now available in the OLED Marketplace.
These new small AMOLED displays can be great for many applications - if you are interested in this display for your device or new project, contact us now, or check out more information over at the OLED Marketplace.
Sharp demonstrated a new 6.18" 1440x3040 foldable AMOLED prototype. The company says that it can withstand over 300,000 bending cycles. The demonstration panel folds inwardly, but Sharp apparently says it can also bend outwardly.
In June 2018 Sharp started to produce flexible OLED displays in low volume and in October 2018 the company launched its first phone to sport its own panels - the Aquos Zero smartphone - that has a notch-type 6.2" 1440x2992 display.
Pulse-Width Modulation, or PWM, is the most common way to adjust the brightness of an OLED display. PWM is the easiest way to achieve high quality brightness control, but it has some serious drawbacks - such as flicker that may cause eye strain and headaches. Some people suffer greatly from PWM-controlled displays.
Device makers are seemingly starting to acknowledge this. Xiaomi has added DC-Dimming as an alternative to PWN in its Mi 9 smartphone (6.39" 1080x2340 AMOLED display) and its Black Shark 2 gaming phone (which uses the same display). OnePlus confirmed that it is also looking at adding a DC-Dimming option in a future OS update.
In February 2019 Samsung Display started to mass produce its new 15.6" 3840x2160 OLED display panels, and finally we have the first laptop to ship with such a panel - Dell is now offering its 2019 Alienware m15 laptop. The 15.6" OLED display is a $350 extra compared to the regular 15.6" FHD LCD (according to Digitimes, the price gap between these two displays should have been closer to $60).
SDC is targeting premium laptops, as these ultra high resolution panels are optimized for gaming, graphic design and video streaming. At CES we saw three companies that announced 15" OLED laptops - HP with its Spectre x360, Lenovo with the Yoga C730 and Dell with the XPS 15, Dell G7 15 and the Alienware m15 which is indeed now shipping.
IHS says that recent years have seen a drastic growth in smartwatch shipments - the market grew from 9.4 million units in 2014 to 149 million units in 2018. In just one year, shipments grew 42% from 2017 to 2018.
This rising demand for smartwatches has of course created a rising demand for displays. OLED displays are leading this segment - with around 80% of shipments in 2018 (the rest are mostly LCD displays). AMOLED display shipments were around 42 million and PMOLED shipments reached around 75 million.
HP introduced its 2019 Spectre x360 15 high-end laptop in CES 2019 - including a top-of-the-line variant that sports a 15.6" 4K AMOLED display. HP originally aimed to start shipping it in March 2019, but this did not happen and according to Anandtech, the company says it now hopes to start shipping it on April 19.
Interestingly Anandtech also says that HP will release an updated HP Envy laptop which will also sport the same AMOLED display. We do not have more details on the new Envy laptop yet.
Market analysts from CLSA say that in 2018 BOE shipped 2.7 million flexible OLED displays to Huawei, its main customer. These were produced at BOE's Chengdu B7 6-Gen OLED fab, which has reached yields of over 75% (DSCC estimates that BOE's yields are around 50%).
CLSA says that BOE will soon start ramping the second phase of its B7 line, and the company expects to ship 30-50 million AMOLED panels in 2019. CLSA says that this is a highly aggressive target - and they believe actual shipments will only be 12.9 million in 2019.
A report from China suggests that Samsung sold over 500,000 units of its new flagship Galaxy S10 smartphones in China in only 7 days. it tok 30 days to achieve the same number of sales for Samsung's GS9 smartphone in 2018. Within two weeks of its launch, the GS10 is sold out in Hong Kong.
Reviews on Samsung's GS10 has been very positive, and Samsung expects to sell 40-45 million units in 2019.
As Samsung, BOE and Visionox are already starting to produce foldable OLEDs (for Samsung Electronics, Huawei and Xiaomi and Nubia, respectively), AUO is not be left behind, and the Taiwan-based display maker announced it is working with clients to develop foldable OLEDs, with aims to start production in the second half of 2019.
AUO is developing an in-folding display (similar to Samsung's Galaxy Fold). According to CLSA, AUO is developing its foldable OLEDs in collaboration with Lenovo. AUO aims to produce these OLEDs in its 4.5-Gen AMOLED AFPD fab in Singapore - which commenced low-volume AMOLED production in 2013. AUO is currently producing mostly wearable glass-based OLEDs in its AFPD fab.
ETNews reports that BOE has developed a new technology that integrates a touch layer inside a flexible OLED display (on touch) - a similar technology to Samsung's Y-OCTA. BOE is reportedly aiming to integrate the technology to its B11 production line in Miyangyang.
Y-OCTA panels are thinner than Samsung's previous flexible Add-On Touch panels - and the optical features are also better as the touch layer is below the polarizer. Samsung estimates that Y-OCTA also cuts production costs by around 30%.