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:
DisplayMate tested Samsung's latest OLED flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 10+, and (as expected) says that this is the world's best smartphone display. DisplayMate says that the Note 10+ set 13 new display performance records - including the world's highest absolute color accuracy and highest peak brightness (at 1,308 nits).
Other records set by the Note 10+ Dynamic AMOLED include the best image contrast accuracy, the smallest shift in color accuracy with image content, the largest native color gamut (113% DCI-P3 and 142% sRGB / Rec.709) and the lowest screen reflectance.
China-based OLED producer Visionox announced plans to establish a flexible and foldable OLED module factory in Guangzhou, China. Together with the local government, Visionox plans to invest 11.2 billion Yuan (around $1.6 billion USD) in this new factory.
Visionox did not provide any time frame for this new fab. The company is currently operating a 6-Gen AMOLED production line in Hebei (with a monthly capacity of 30,000 substrates) and has announced plans to establish a similar flexible OLED line in Hefei in a $6.3 billion investment.
Taiwan-based driver IC developer Novatek Microelectronics says that it expects shipments of AMOLED drivers will double from 3 million in Q1 2019 to 6 million in Q2 2019.
Novatek reported its financial results, saying that its last quarter was the best one in 11 years, as profits grew 34% from last year to $68.5 million. Growth at Novatek is fueled by strong demand for OLED drivers and TDDI chips.
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.
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).
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.
The Verge posted a review of one of the world's first 2019 OLED laptops, the HP 2019 Spectre x360 15. The reviewer loves the OLED display: "The Spectre x360 15’s display is tremendous, and I see no reason why someone would pick an LCD over this OLED, given the option. It’s absolutely worth the higher cost (Ed: around $400)."
HP's Spectre x360 15 features an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage. The OLED display is a 15.6" 3840x2160 panel produced by SDC. HP's Spectre x360 15 laptops are now shipping, the OLED models start at $2,299.
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.
Huawei launched its Watch GT smartwatch in October 2018, and the company announced it shipped over 2 million units so far. This is great news for Huawei - although its not clear how the recent US ban on Huawei will effect future sales.
The Watch GT has a 1.39" 454x454 round AMOLED display (likely made by AU Optronics) and features an optical 6-LED heart rate sensor, a GPS and a power-saving algorithm that allows the Watch GT to have a claimed 2-week battery life for frequent use mode. The Watch GT is now shipping starting at $199.99 (note: affiliate link to Amazon).
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).