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 is 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 supplier, including Samsung Display who produces the OLED displays for Apple.
It is still not clear what are Apple's plans for 2018, but it seems likely that Apple will introduce three new iPhones this year. The main model will still use an LCDs, but there will be two higher-end OLED models - a replacement for the iPhone X with a 5.8" AMOLED and a larger 6.3" or 6.5" variant. According to reports Apple wanted LG display to supply it with the larger OLED displays, but it is not clear whether LG Display will be ready with the quantities and quality Apple requires this year.
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:
Japan Display (JDI) announced that it has finally secured the 80 billion Yen (around $740 million) bailout plan. The large investment will come from Chin-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.
According to a report from Korea, when Apple secured its flexible AMOLED supply from Samsung for the iPhone X (and later XS and XS Plus) it committed to a minimum order quantity. As sales of the iPhones were slower than expected, the company did not reach its MOQ, and is now facing penalties of hundreds of millions of dollars.
It seems as if Apple is reluctant to pay the penalty (which isn't a big surprise) and is offering some alternative routes for Samsung - including the option of ordering OLED displays for future iPads or laptops (this coincides with a report from Korea last month).
Japan Display was supposed to get a $2.1 bailout deal led by Taiwan's TPK and the Harvest Group. TPK was supposed to invest $230 million, but the display maker announced that it decided not to invest in Japan Display after all. JDI also says that it has not yet received a positive commitment from other potential investors.
JDI did disclose that it approached Apple for help (JDI is a major LCD supplier to Apple) and Apple is considering to waive its debt, guarantee display orders and also invest around $185 million directly in JDI.
Respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that he expects Apple to switch to an all-OLED iPhone lineup in 2020 - with a high-end 6.7" and 5.4" models and a lower-end 6.1" one. The higher-end modules will also support 5G connectivity.
This confirms WSJ's report from January 2019. It is estimated by most analysts taht Apple's 2019 iPhone lineup will sport similar displays to its 2018 one (i.e. OLED on high-end modules and an LCD on the lower-end one).
In February 2019 Samsung Display started to mass produce its new 15.6" 3840x2160 OLED display panels, and some of the first 2019 OLED laptops are already shipping.
Korea-site The Elec says that according to its sources, Apple is "considering adoption" of OLED displays in its Pro laptop and tablets lines. The iPad Pro will adopt an 11" OLED while the MacBook Pro will adopt a 15.6" one.
According to Reuters Japan Display has signed a deal with Apple to supply OLED screens for Apple's 2019 Watch device. Reuters gets its information from "two sources familiar with the matter".
Samsung Electronics announced that it expects its first quarter earnings to be below market expectations - due to weakness in its display and memory businesses.
Samsung says that LCD prices have dropped more than expected and demand for its flexible OLED also declined. Analysts from Susquehanna Financial Group estimate that a weak smartphone market and a "dramatic" decline of Apple iPhone OLED orders caused Samsung Display's revenue to decline around 50% compared to Q4 2018.
Korea's ETNews reports that Samsung has shipped foldable OLED display samples to both Apple And Google. According to the report, the displays sent to Apple were 7.2" in size (just slightly smaller than the Galaxy Fold OLED display).
This is hardly a surprise - it's highly likely that all smartphone brands are now looking into foldable displays for next generation devices - and all leading brands are also likely to want to design prototypes and start looking at displays.