Handset Makers Increase OLED Screen Demand

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A new report has found demand from the likes of Samsung and Nokia may mean LCD screens are poised to the same way of CRT televisions

A new report from iSuppli shows that this year’s release of smartphones featuring Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (AM-OLED) screens has demand for this technology on the rise.

The Samsung Impression and Nokia N85 are among the new smartphones encouraging the growth of OLEDs — the flexible new “green screens” that are energy efficient, colour friendly and easier to recycle than LCDs.

According to the US analyst firm, shipments of OLED displays for the main screens of mobile handsets – versus the exterior screens of mobile phones, where they’ve been used in the past – is expected to increase by a factor of eight between 2009 and 2015, rising from 22.2 million units to 178 million units.

“AM-OLEDs deliver superior-quality images compared to conventional LCDs, especially in terms of contrast and response times,” said iSuppli principle analyst, Vinita Jakhanwal, in a statement.

“They also consume less power, extending battery life. With smartphones increasingly being used by consumers as their primary Internet-access devices, the ubiquity and extended operation times yielded by AM-OLEDs make them an attractive choice for such cell phones.”

In addition to consuming less power than LCDs, the greener OLEDs have fewer sub-components and contain no mercury or other dangerous metals, making them easier to recycle, reports iSuppli.

In addition to use in smartphones – such as the Samsung Impression and Omnia II, and the Nokia N85 – iSuppli expects AM-OLEDs to be used as 2.2-inch and 2.6-inch QVGA main displays for conventional mobile. An article yesterday in The New York Times further describes how OLEDs are being adopted by lighting designers, who appreciate how long-lasting, energy-efficient and bendable they are – not to mention their ability to illuminate in a range of colours.

iSuppli expects global shipments of OLEDs for the main displays of cells phones to rise at a compound annual rate of 41.4 percent from 2009 to 2015, compared to 8 percent for 2009 to 2013 for all types of handset displays.

OLED shipments are expected to reach 57.3 million units in 2011, 76.4 million units in 2012, 101.5 million units in 2013 and 132 million units in 2014, before reaching 2015’s expected total of 178 million units.

Another factor expected to drive growth is a change in pricing – today, a 2.6-inch diagonal AM-OLED screen in a smartphone can cost $0.55 (33 pence) more per unit than an equivalent LCD screen. It’s hoped that prices will fall as the number of suppliers increases. Limited numbers of suppliers and factories are “the only factors limiting greater penetration,” stated the analyst report.

Starting in 2010, it’s expected that main screens, not secondary screens, will be the higher-volume application of OLEDs, a trend likely to continue into 2015.

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