Article last updated on: Feb 20, 2019

Foldable OLED displays are exciting - as these displays will enable new device form factors - such as phones that open into tablets, smart bands that open into smartphones and more. In 2019 we will finally see the first foldable smartphones on the market!

Samsung Galaxy X prototype photo

The first foldable smartphones

In 2013, Samsung kicked off the foldable OLED market, sort of, when it announced its YOUM flexible OLED brand, showing off several flexible OLED prototypes - including a foldable phone/tablet. Samsung never used the YOUM brand name again, but Samsung has continued to develop its foldable OLED technology.

In 2015 we started hearing the first reports of Samsung's Project Valley. Samsung hoped to release its first foldable device in 2016, but the company faced many challenges including problems with the substrate and the software and user interface. In 2019 the company is finally set to introduce its first device, the Samsung Galaxy F (F for foldable)

Samsung Galaxy X folding design image

Samsung's first foldable device will have two screens - a large 7.3" 1532x2152 (361 PPI) foldable AMOLED that folds inside, and a smaller 4.5" 840x1960 AMOLED that is used when the phone is closed. Samsung brands the display as the Samsung Infinity Flex Display. The Galaxy F is relatively thick and bulky - and will carry a very high cost and be produced in limited volume.



Other companies are also developing such devices - Royole is already shipping a "developer" edition of the FlexPai phone/tablet, with its 7.8" 1920x1440 (308 PPI) AMOLED display that fold outwards. Xiaomi has teased a beautiful tri-folded OLED smartphone and Huawei will unveil its first foldable smartphone in MWC 2019.

Foldable OLED developers

Samsung Display is not the only display maker to develop foldable OLED technologies. China's BOE Display seems to be another leading foldable OLED developer. In May 2018, BOE demonstrated several impressive new technologies, including a 6.2" 1440x3008 foldable (1R) OLED display with a touch layer and a foldable 7.56" 2048x1535 OLED. According to reports, BOE is working with three companies, including Huawei, with four different devices under development.

In September 2018, Chinese smartphone maker Nubia unveiled its first foldable device, the Nubia Alpha. The Alpha uses a tall and slim foldable OLED and turns from a slim phone to a wearable smartwatch. Nubia claims that the device will ship in China by the end of 2018. The producer of the Nubia Alpha's display is China-based Visionox. Visionox is also supplying the OLEDs to Xiaomi's prototypes.

Nubia alpha photo

Besides Samsung, Visionox and BOE, other display makers have demonstrated foldable OLEDs, but it seems that none are as mature as Samsung and BOE. LG Display has been reportedly collaborating with Apple, Google and Microsoft on this project (this hasn't been confirmed) but its plans are to release its first panel only in 2020. Tianma also demonstrated foldable OLEDs in 2018, and so did Everdisplay and Royole- but it does not seem as if these companies are ready to begin production in the near future.

The foldable OLED market

It seems that 2019 will be the year of the foldable OLED. Market analyst firm DSCC estimates that by 2022 the market for foldable OLED will reach 63 million units, up from 3 million in 2019 (a CAGR of 173%).

Foldable OLED shipment forecasts (2019-2022, DSCC)

Flexible OLEDs Market Report

If you want to fully understand the flexible and foldable OLED display and lighting markets, check out our Flexible OLED Market Report. This comprehensive report explains:

  • Why flexible displays and lighting panels are so exciting
  • What kind of flexible displays are currently on the market
  • What the future holds for flexible OLEDs
  • Foldable OLED plans and forecasts
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The report package also provides a complete list of flexible OLED developers and makers and their current (and future) products, and a lot more. Read more here!

The latest foldable OLED news:

Visionox confirms it supplies the prototype foldable and embedded-camera OLED displays to Xiaomi

In January 2019 Xiaomi unveiled a new prototype smartphone that uses a tri-foldable OLED display. The company did not disclose much information, but a report from Taiwan suggested that the OLED supplier for this prototype was Visionox.

In an interview with China Daily a Visionox VP confirms that Visionox supplied the foldable OLED prototypes to Visionox. He also says that Visionox supplied Xiaomi with the innovative OLED displays with under-the-screen camera (seen in the video below).

CSoT demonstrated new OLED display prototypes and technologies at SID DisplayWeek 2019

China-based display maker CSoT demonstrated several new OLED display prototypes and technologies at SID 2019, and this great new video shows these displays in action.

First up is a 31" 4K (3840 x 2160, 144 PPI) AMOLED that was produced using an ink-jet printing process on an IGZO substrate. The peak brightness is 200 nits and the refresh rate is 120 Hz. This seems to be the same panel announced in March 2018 by Joshua Printing Display Technology (established by CSoT and Tianma in 2016). The display has some noticable defects.

Visionox shows new foldable, flexible and automotive OLED Displays at SID 2019

China-based OLED producer Visionox has demonstrated several new OLED technologies at SID DisplayWeek 2019 last month, and the following great video shows the company's impressive booth and displays.

First up is a foldable OLED display that can be folded inwards and outwards. The panel's folding radius is 5 mm, and Visionox says that it can be folded over 200,000 times. The company did not disclose the exact size and resolution, though.

OLED-Info's foldable, flexible, VR/AR, transparent, microdisplays, PMOLED, automotive and graphene OLED market reports updated to July 2019

Today we published new versions of our market reports - that cover the flexible, VR/AR, microdisplays, automotive, PMOLED and graphene OLED markets. OLED-Info provides comprehensive niche OLED market reports, and our reports cover everything you need to know about the niche market, and can be useful if you want to understand how the OLED industry works and what this technology can provide for your own industry. The reports are now updated to July 2019.

The Flexible and Foldable OLED Market Report:

  • Why flexible displays and lighting panels are so exciting
  • What kind of flexible displays are currently on the market
  • All about the foldable OLED market and industry
  • What the future holds for flexible OLEDs
  • How to acquire flexible OLEDs for your products

The report package provides a good introduction to the flexible and foldable OLED market - present and future. It details both flexible displays and lighting technologies. Read more here!

Bloomberg: Samsung completed the Galaxy Fold redesign, will resume production soon

Bloomberg reports that Samsung Electronics completed its two-month Galaxy Fold redesign which fixed the problems that caused the foldable OLED to fail. Samsung will be able to resume production soon, but the company cannot yet commit to a new shipping date.

Samsung Galaxy Fold photo

Samsung had to re-engineer the Galaxy Fold hinge, to help protect the OLED display, and it also stretched the protective film to wrap around the entire scree which makes it impossible to remove it (which some reviewers mistakenly did).

CSoT demonstrates its first foldable AMOLED prototype

China-based CSoT demonstrated a foldable OLED prototype at SID DisplayWeek 2019, I believe this is the first time the company has shown a foldable display.

CSoT recently started pilot production at its 6-Gen LTPS flexible AMOLED production line in Wuhan and the company already achieved some design wins with "top-class" phone makers and is expected to start shipping OLED displays to its customers in Q4 2019. The Wuhan fab will have a monthly production capacity of 45,000 6-Gen substrates.

Huawei delays the launch of its foldable OLED Mate X smartphone

In February 2019 Huawei launched its first foldable smartphone, the Mate X with a 8" 2200x2480 foldable AMOLED display that folds outwards. Huawei said it will launch the Mate X by the end of June, but now the company says it is now planning to release it in September.

Huawei says that it needs more time to test the device and make sure it is durable. It is also possible that the US ban on Huawei is behind this decision.

LGD confirms it is Lenovo's 13.3" foldable OLED supplier

Earlier this month Lenovo demonstrated a prototype 13.3" foldable OLED ThinkPad laptop. We speculated that LGD is the display supplier, and yesterday LGD's CTO confirmed this.

Lenovo said that it developed this device for over three years, and hopes to launched a commercial one in 2020. InOctober 2018 it was first reported that LG Display is working together with Lenovo on a 13.3" foldable OLED laptop device, but that was not confirmed until now.

Lenovo demonstrates a foldable 13.3" Windows laptop

Update: LGD confirms it is supplying the 13.3" foldable OLEDs to Lenovo's prototypes.

Lenovo demonstrated a prototype foldable ThinkPad laptop, that features a 13.3" foldable OLED display. Lenovo says that it developed this device for over three years, and hopes to launched a commercial one in 2020.

The reporters at The Verge really liked the device, but noted that the hardware is clearly not finished - the folding mechanism for example did not feel sturdy (and we all know this is critical in a foldable device) and the display itself suffers from "remarkably poor viewing angles".