OLED is a new display technology, used to create thin, power efficient and bright displays. Today OLEDs are used in mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras and even TV sets - as OLEDs are considered the best display technology ever.
Apple's OLED iPhone
Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone X was the company's first OLED Phone - with a 5.8" 1125x2436 (458 PPI) flexible Super AMOLED display that covers almost the entire front of the phone, HDR, dual lens camera, a Hexa-core A11 Bionic CPU, 3GB of RAM and 64/256 GB of storage.
The iPhone X carries a high price tag, starting at $999. iPhone X sales were lower than expected, which caused problems at Apple's suppliers, including Samsung Display who produces the OLED displays for Apple.
The OLED Apple Watch
The iPhone X is not Apple's first product to adopt an OLED display, though. In April 2015 Apple launched its first wearable device, the Apple Watch which used a flexible AMOLED display (made by LG Display). All Apple Watch products to date continue to use LGD's flexible OLEDs. OLED displays are especially suitable for wearable devices - as the displays are thinner and lighter than LCD displays, and are more power efficient (especially if you tweak the UI to suit the special OLED properties).
Apple OLED MacBook Pro
Apple's MacBook Pro range of high-end laptops started adopting an OLED Touch Bar instead of the traditional function keys in 2016. The display itself is either a 13" or a 15" LCD.
The OLED strip is supported by most of Apple's applications and can show commonly used emojis in messaging applications, bookmarks while you browse and other context-activated options. It also includes a Touch ID sensor that is activated for example when you wish to pay online (on supported web stores). Apple released an API to developers can support the Touch Bar in third-party applications.
The latest Apple OLED news:
LG Display is currently producing flexible AMOLED displays for Apple's smartwatches in its E2 4.5-Gen line in Paju. The company hasn't been able to improve its financials as LCD prices are under pressure, and following a recent managerial shuffle, it is now reported that LGD is considering shutting down its E2 line.
The E2 production capacity is around 20,000 substrates per month, but it is less economical than LG's larger OLED lines, the E5 and E6 lines which are 6-Gen lines. LG will reportedly move production from its E2 line to its larger lines.
Ireland-based OLED IP company Solas OLED has filed a lawsuit in the US (Texas) against Apple for patent infringements. The lawsuit mentions three patents (USPTO# 6072450, 7446338 and 7573068) that relate to the OLED stack, structure and circuitry (for example one of the patents relates to the formation of a backplane on a polyimide substrate).
Apple is of course not the producer of the OLED displays - but Solas says that Apple is accused of "making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing products that infringe the claims" of its patents. Apple's OLED suppliers are Samsung (for the iPhone and MacBook Pro Touch bar devices) and LG Display (for the Apple Watch display).
Yesterday Apple announced its 2019 iPhone and Watch Lineup - with all the devices but one with OLED displays. We'll start with the iPhone 11 Pro which uses a 5.8" notch-type 2436x1125 (458 PPI) AMOLED display and features Apple's latest A13 Bionic chip, 64/256/512GB of storage, a triple camera setup, HDR, FaceID - and is water and dust resistant.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is quite similar, but it offers a bigger display - a 6.5" 2688x1242 AMOLED (same PPI - 458). Both phones will ship on September 20. The iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999 while the iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at $1,099.
According to a report from Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, LG Display has passed Apple's quality requirements and has started to produce AMOLED displays for Apple's next generation iPhone, to be announced in September.
According to JoongAng Ilbo, Apple aims to ship around 65 million units of its new smartphones, and has contracted LGD to produce between 6 to 7 million panels, around 10% of Apple's total needs. The rest will be produced by Samsung Display. LGD will produce the displays at its E6 production line in Paju, Korea.
Back in early 2017 it was reported that Apple is in discussions with BOE Display to supply OLED displays for future iPhones. Up until now Samsung was the exclusive iPhone AMOLED supplier, but a new report from Japan suggests that BOE and Apple's talks are still ongoing.
In fact the Nikkei Asian Review says that Apple is "aggressively testing" BOE's flexible AMOLED displays. The NAR claims that Apple will decide whether to add BOE as a supplier by the end of 2019. Such a deal will be a great step forward for BOE toward its goal to become a leading AMOLED supplier.
DSCC updated its foldable OLED market forecasts, saying that it now expects the market to grow slower than it anticipated earlier this year. In 2019 DSCC sees 360,000 foldable panels produced in 2019, with less than 250,000 actual devices sold. By 2023, the market will grow to over 68 million units (a CAGR of 272%) generating over $8 billion in revenues.
Smartphones will remain the leading devices to adopt foldable OLEDs throughout the forecast period, and starting in 2020 DSCC sees clamshell designs with at least a 60% unit share. DSCC sees ultra-thin glass as becoming a significant player, with Samsung adopting SCHOTT UTG starting in 2020. Ultra-thin glass enables an aggressive folding radius, scratch resistance, hardness and a similar touch experience to current glass based displays.
END: RiTDisplay and PlayNitride to supply Apple with MicroLED displays for its next-gen Watch device
Apple is currently using an LGD 1.57" 394x324 LTPO AMOLED display (1.78" 448x368 on the larger 44mm version) in its latest Watch smart wearable device. Apple's involvement in Micro-LED displays started in 2014 when it acquired LuxVue, and it was always assumed that Apple's main aim for the new display technology is to adopt it in wearable devices.
According to a new report from Taiwan, PlayNitride and RiTDisplay are in talks with Apple to supply microLED displays for Apple's next-generation Watch wearable. A micro-LED display could offer much higher brightness and efficiency compared to an AMOLED display, both of which could be highly desirable in wearable devices.
Japan Display (JDI) announced that it has finally secured the 80 billion Yen (around $740 million) bailout plan. The large investment will come from the China-based Harvest Group, Hong Kong-based activist investor Oasis Management and an unnamed JDI customer - which is likely to be Apple.
Japan Display says that it plans to hold a shareholders meeting on August 29th to formalize the bailout plan.
Samsung reports its financial results for Q2 2019, includes a one-time $684 million payment (could be from Apple)
Samsung Electronics reported its financial results for Q2 2019. The company's operating profit totaled ₩6.5 trillion (around $5.6 billion). Interestingly Samsung reported a one-off gain of $684 million, which could be Apple's compensation for lower-than-agreen-on iPhone OLED panel orders.
Samsung's smartphone sales have been lower than expected, which is one of the factors behind the earnings miss. CLSA analysts expect Samsung Display's to enjoy a 47% growth in OLED sales in the next quarter as demand from Apple, Samsung and Chinese smartphone makers is expected to increase in Q3.
DSCC published an interesting note, detailing the world's top 10 devices by flexible AMOLED sales in the first half of 2019. The list contains only three vendors: Samsung, Apple and Huawei.
Total flexible AMOLED revenues for these ten devices are almost $4.7 billion, and Samsung phones account for 53% ($2.5 billion). Apple has only 2 leading models, but accounts for 30% of the revenues ($1.4 billion) and Huawei phones generated $723 million in flexible AMOLED revenues.