BOE Display, founded in 1993 in Beijing China, is one of the world's leading display maker, producing both LCDs and OLEDs. BOE also produces LCD backlighting units and solar panels.
BOE has been producing small glass-based OLEDs for some time, but the company's focus is currently in flexible and foldable OLEDs. In October 2017 BOE started to produce flexible OLED displays at its first flexible OLED line, the Chengdu B7 6-Gen fab. The annual capacity of the B7 line, when complete and at 100% yields, will be 45,000 monthly 6-Gen substrates, or about 90 million smartphone OLEDs
In addition to the B7 fab in Chengdu, in October 2016 BOE announced another 6-Gen OLED fab, in Mianyang, with a similar capacity. In March 2018, BOE announced plans for a third 6-Gen OLED fab, this one in Chongqing. In December 2018, BOE announced plans for its fourth line in Fuzhou. BOE is also building an OLED Microdisplay fab in collaboration with OLiGHTEK.
BOE's latest OLED prototypes and panels
In May 2018 BOE demonstrated its latest flexible and foldable OLEDs at SID 2018. BOE's foldable prototype was a 6.2" WQHD (1440x3008, 538 PPI) panel that features a fold-radius of 1R and include a touch layer. BOE also demonstrated a foldable tablet (which they call a Phonblet, I am not sure if this term will catch), which includes a larger 7.56" foldable OLED. This panel features a resolution of 2048x1535 (338 PPI).
The latest BOE OLED news:
Yesterday Motorola started shipping its $1,500 foldable OLED phone, the Razr 2019. The Razr 2019 features a 6.2" 2142x876 (21:9) foldable AMOLED display that folds inside, produced by BOE. There's also a regular external 2.7" 600x800 AMOLED used when the phone is closed.
Initial reviews are appearing online. Android Central's Nirave Gondhia tested one such phone, and he says that the Razr's screen feels fragile, even more so than the screen of his Galaxy Fold. While he likes how the device folds, he says that as the screen shifts along the hinge, the feedback on the screen feel strange and it feels as if the screen could be damaged by the folding over the long term.
IHS says that smartwatch display shipments continue to rise, and reached 57 million units in Q3 2019. IHS expects total shipments in 2019 will reach 195 million units - up 31% from 2018 (149 million units).
IHS also revealed the breakdown by display maker. The leading producer by far is BOE Display, followed by LG Display (who produced all of Apple's OLED wearable displays in Q3 2019, but this is now changing) and then Truly.
Huawei's Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro smartphones, released in September 2019, sported AMOLED displays made by Samsung Display (rigid 6.62" 1080x2340) and BOE (flexible 6.53" 1176x2400, the Mate 30 Pro).
According to a report from Korea, Huawei will soon launch its next flagship phones, the Mate 40 and Mate 40 Pro - and the flexible OLEDs used in the Mate 40 Pro will be supplied by Samsung and LG Display (50% split). This is an interesting achievement by the Korean OLED makers and likely quite a blow for BOE. Apparently BOE could not match Huawei's requirement for this curved OLED display.
DSCC updated their display industry forecasts, saying that as LCD prices continue to fall it revises the capacity forecast downward by 6% as Display makers are delaying and cancelling LCD investments. DSCC's OLED capacity forecast is also reduced by 4% - and is now growing at a CAGR of 19% from 2016 to 2025 (the main reason is the cancellation of Visionox V2 phase 2 and LGD's E6 Phase 3).
DSCC says that OLED TV roadmap is still not clear as Chinese makers are not ready to commit to OLED TV production. DSCC does see next-generation TV capacity coming online in the future - which could be inkjet-printed OLEDs, OVJP, MicroLEDs and other potential technologies. But the next-generation display market is certainly not clear yet and DSCC sees an extended forecast during which demand will outpace supply (especially as average TV size continues to grow).
In March 2017 OLED maker BOE Technology and OLED microdisplay maker OLiGHTEK announced a new $170 million joint-venture to produce OLED microdisplays for the consumer VR and AR markets
Once complete, BOE's fab will have the largest capacity in the industry - but this is not enough for BOE. Yesterday it was reported in Chinese media that BOE plans to build a second, larger OLED microdisplay fab in Yunnan. BOE will invest $257 million while a state-owned development group will invest $28 million. BOE will also raise $200 million from external sources. Total investment in the new fab will total $486 million.
IHS Markit says that smartphone AMOLED shipments reached 146 million in Q3 2019 - a record high, and up from 93 million in the second quarter. LTPS LCD shipments reached 144 million - and this is the first quarter in which AMOLED shipments surpassed LTPS LCD shipments. a-SI LCD is still the leading technology with shipments of 177 million.
Following the increased demand for AMOLED displays, Samsung Display regained its leading position in the market (with a 29% market share), replacing BOE. The third largest suppler is Tianma.
Yesterday BOE held its Innovation Partner Conference (IPC) at the Beijing APEC Center and the company unveiled a 55" 8K (160 PPI) OLED TV prototype produced by inkjet printing. The panel achieves a maximum brightness of 400 nits and a color gamut of 95% DCI-P3.
BOE inkjet-printed 55" 4K OLED TV (2018)
This is BOE's 2nd inkjet printing OLED TV prototype, the first one being a 55" 4K panel presented at BOE's 2018 IPC. These displays were both produced at BOE's R&D production line in Hefei that uses Kateeva's inkjet deposition equipment.
Last month Huawei finally launched its first foldable smartphone, the Mate X with a 8" 2200x2480 foldable AMOLED display (produced by BOE) that folds outwards. One of the first reviews was posted by CNet's Andrew Hoyle - who spent one day with this $2,400 device - and liked it a lot.
The OLED itself seems to be a great display - Andrew says that it is a bright, vibrant and sharp display. When open, the 8" display is great for videos and images. Andrew also loves the folding mechanism works like a charm, and says that the device is a joy to use. Compared to the Galaxy Fold, he says that the Mate X is much thinner when closed which is important - and it is also much more usable when closed as it has a much larger display.
BOE held its annual Innovation Partner Conference in Beijing, and the company's chairman said that the company aims to produce at least 70 million flexible AMOLED panels. This is a sharp increase from what BOE estimated only last month.
BOE has been known to make aggressive targets - it first aimed to produce 30-50 million AMOLED panels in 2019, but eventually the number of panels in 2019 will be around 20 million.
BOE announced on its official Weibo channel that it supplies the foldable OLEDs to the Huawei Mate X and the Motorola Razr. We already know that BOE produces the 8" 2200x2480 foldable OLED used in the Mate X, but we did not know that BOE supplies the 6.2" 2142x876 foldable display used in the new Razr.
This is a bit of a surprise - as Motorola, on its official specs, says that the Razr uses a pOLED display which is an LGD brand.