Flexible display market to grow 100 times

According to an analytical report by the Omdia center for global technology research, the foldable OLED displays that entered the market in late 2019 triggered a wave of innovation in smart phone form factors. Now relatively small devices can have big screens.

The company’s recent report, Omdia Foldable Display Technology & Market 2020, claims that the demand for flexible displays operating on organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) will increase 100 times by 2025.

In 2019, the year when first foldable phones came out, the foldable OLED display market sold 700K items globally. It is expected that in 2020 the market will expand to 3.9 mio items and in five years soar to 73.1 mio.

The foldable smart phone market emerged in 2019 with latest releases by Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo and Royole. However, the supply was limited due to very high prices and unreliability of the devices that could be easily broken.

Despite these issues, manufacturers are improving the technology for their product lines and using foldable AMOLED displays more often. The active matrix organic light-emitting diode technology is an improved version of OLED thanks to an advanced active matrix consisting of thin-film transistors.

“Foldable AMOLEDs are triggering a wave of innovation in smartphone form factors, allowing small devices to support very large displays,” said Omdia senior analyst Jerry Kang. “Foldable displays are currently difficult to mass produce with high reliability and low cost due to their extreme mechanical and optical properties. As a result, smartphone makers are using foldable displays with lower resolutions than they employ in their flagship models, which enables manufacturing at lower costs and with better yields than high-resolution display panels.”

The expert said that smart phone manufacturers are currently using foldable displays with a lower resolution than in their flagship models.

“The foldable display market could grow much more rapidly if the reliability of foldable cover lenses, touch sensors and polarizer films is improved,” the analyst said. “To enhance foldable display durability, panel suppliers need to adopt innovations including ultrathin glass covers (UTG), touch sensor on thin-film-encapsulation (TSP on TFE) and color filter on thin-film-encapsulation (CF on TFE).”

According to Omdia, foldable displays form a small part of the flexible OLED market. In 2020, foldable displays comprised only 1.3% out of 312 mio OLEDs sold in 2020.

“This small percentage provides great opportunities for the growth of foldable displays in the next few years as the manufacturers begin to solve their production problems,” the report concludes.

By Yekaterina Vorobyova

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