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.
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The latest AMOLED news:
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.
Exposure to blue light has been linked to many health issues - and one of the advantages of OLED displays and lighting panels has always been lower blue light emission compared to LED based technologies.
Samsung recently announced its latest AMOLED displays (adopted in the Galaxy S10 family of smartphones), and the company now says that its newest OLEDs produces considerably less blue-light emissions than any other mobile display in use today. Samsung's blue-light-eradicating advancement has just been certified by world-class German testing and certification body, TÜV Rheinland, which awarded Samsung's AMOLEDs its ‘Eye Comfort’ certification.
Samsung announced a handful of new devices, all with OLED displays. We'll start with the company's 2019 flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S10. It includes four different variants -
- Galaxy S10 5G: 6.7" 3040x1440 flexible AMOLED
- Galaxy S10+: 6.4" 3040x1440 flexible AMOLED
- Galaxy S10: 6.1" 3040x1440 flexible AMOLED
- Galaxy S10e: 5.8" 2280x1080 AMOLED (rigid?)
The S10 phones use Samsung's latest AMOLEDs, that are now HDR10+ certified, include an under-the-OLED fingerprint sensor (Qualcomm ultra-sonic) and cut-outs for the selfie cameras. Samsung calls these displays "Dynamic AMOLED" (due to the HDR support, probably) and "Infinity-O Display" due to the camera cut-outs.
LG Electronics says that it will introduce its first 5G smartphone (the V50 ThinQ 5G, which will probably use a pOLED display) in MWC 2019 next week - as it hopes this will help it rebound its smartphone business. At MWC it will also launch its G8 ThinQ with its Crystal Sound OLED.
Regarding foldable OLED technology, the LG's president says that it is still premature to release a foldable phone. The company says that its technology is ready - and in fact LG already introduced its rollable OLED TV which is even one step ahead of foldable technology. If consumer reaction to foldable smartphones is positive the company is "fully ready to respond".
In November 2018 Samsung unveiled its upcoming foldable smartphone, and according to reports it may officially launch this new product on February 20th (at the Samsung Galaxy S10 unveiling event). Samsung Vietnam accidentally published an ad showing several new technologies, including a foldable smartphone:
Samsung first foldable smartphone/tablet device will use two OLED displays - a large 7.3" 1532x2152 foldable AMOLED that folds inside, and a smaller secondary OLED (4.5" 840x1960). Samsung brands the foldalbe display as the Samsung Infinity Flex Display.
During the company's recent conference call, LGD's CFO, D.H. Seo, said that they expect to see some revenus from its automotive pOLED business "by the end of 2019".
Casio's interesting PRO TEK WSD-F30 smartwatch is is now shipping for $549 (note: affiliate link to Amazon). The PRO TEK is an Android Wear OS deviec that sports a round 1.2" round 390x390 AMOLED display with a monochrome transparent LCD on top that can be used to conserve battery life (up to a month with wireless off). The watch features a MIL-STSD-810 certification, GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
DSCC says that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10 will come in three models:
- The Galaxy S10 Light will use a 5.75" 2340x1080 flexible AMOLED display
- The Galaxy S10 will sport a 6.11" 3120x1440 flexible AMOLED
- The Galaxy S10 Plus will sport a large 6.44" 3120x1440 flexible AMOLED
DSCC also details the production cost and panel price at SDC, for the large GS10+ 6.44" AMOLED display - and how it changed from Q1 2018 (with a forecast of up to Q4 2019).
IHS details the production costs of smartphone OLED displays, say rigid OLEDs carry a 20% premium over LCDs
IHS released its LCD and OLED smartphone display cost model for Q3 2018. According to IHS, a 5.7" 2560x1440 rigid OLED costs $18.62 to produce, a full-display flexible curved 5.8" 2880x1440 OLED costs $22.61 and a Notch-type 5.9" 2438x1125 OLED costs $28.18 to produce.
It is not clear how IHS estimates yields - from our information SDC's production yields are much higher compared to the new makers such as BOE and LG Display - which means that yielded costs are much lower at SDC's mature OLED fabs.
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.