Low-Cost Mobiles Push On-Cell Touch Growth

Vastly more on-cell TFT LCD touch panels were shipped in the first six months of 2014 than all of 2013. NPD DisplaySearch data shows that total shipments in Q1 and Q2’14 exceeded 20 million, while Q1-Q4’13 reached just 4.7 million. The massive growth is due to the technology’s adoption in the entry- and mid-level smartphone market. Shipments are expected to reach 129 million units by 2018.

Embedded touch comes in several types: in- and on-cell LCD and on-cell AMOLED, for instance. Together, these technologies accounted for 20% of all mobile phone displays in 2012; 29% in 2013; and are expected to represent 32% this year.

Despite the significant growth of embedded touch panel shipments, “individual manufacturer shipment shares still depend on Apple and Samsung, as they are the biggest customers for in-cell TFT LCD and on-cell AMOLED”, said DisplaySearch’s Calvin Hsieh. Other brands tend to use on-cell LCD.

More features and functions are expected at lower price points in today’s smartphone market. Brands such as Motorola and Huawei have been forced to change their product strategies to deal with these expectations. One notable change is the adoption of embedded touch – specifically on-cell LCD touch with single-layer patterning (SLP) – in low-cost units. Panel makers including Innolux, CPT, Hannstar and Tianma use SLP to lower costs and raise yield rates.

“On-cell TFT LCD certainly can help embedded types increase their share of shipments; however, add-on types still possess sufficient supplier sources, affordable prices, and flexibility”, Hsieh said.