While LCD technology has been dominant in mobile phones for more than 15 years, IHS expects OLEDs to become dominant in smartphones in 2020. AMOLED displays with LTPS backplanes will represent 36% of all smartphone displays shipped in 2020, passing a-Si and LTPS TFT-LCD screens.
OLEDs are more difficult to produce and use more complicated materials and processes than LCDs; they also require a focus on yield rate management. Despite this, the technology is increasingly attractive for smartphone brands, says David Hsieh of IHS. The thinner and lighter design, as well as better colour performance and flexibility, are strong draws.
Samsung Electronics is currently the dominant adopter of OLED technology in mobile devices. However, demand is rising from Chinese makers such as Oppo, Meizu and Huawei. Apple is also expected to use OLED screens in an upcoming iPhone. The thinner and lighter OLED displays, using plastic instead of glass, have drawn Apple’s attention. Hsieh said that the adoption would be “a milestone for OLED in the display industry.”
AMOLED manufacturing capacities are being ramped up by Samsung Display, LG Display, JDI, BOE, Tianma, GVO, Truly and CSOT. IHS expects global AMOLED manufacturing capacity to rise from 5 million m² in 2014 to 30 million m² in 2020.
“Many display manufacturers were investing in LTPS LCD, thinking it would overtake a-Si technology,” said Hsieh. “However, many of the fabs under construction, especially in China, have had to change their plans to add OLED evaporation and encapsulation tools, because OLED penetration has been more rapid than previously expected.”