Following the arrival of the initial wave of foldable smartphones in 2019, the global market for foldable active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) display panels is set for explosive growth in 2020, with shipments soaring by 455 percent this year.
Worldwide foldable AMOLED display shipments will rise to 3.9 million units in 2020, up from 700,000 in 2019, according to the Omdia Foldable Display Technology & Market – 2020 report. Shipments will continue to rise at a fast pace over the next five years, reaching 73.1 million in 2025.
“Foldable AMOLEDs are triggering a wave of innovation in smartphone form factors, allowing small devices to support very large displays,” said Jerry Kang, senior principal analyst at Omdia. “The foldable-display smartphone market was initiated in 2019, with the introduction of models from Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo and Royole. However, shipments were limited last year due to the extremely high pricing and low reliability of these models. Despite these challenges, smartphone OEMs are making increasing use of foldable AMOLED displays in 2020, as they propagate the technology through their product lines.”
With their shipments constrained, foldable displays will account for only a tiny proportion of the flexible OLED market this year, representing just 1.3 percent of the 311.9-million-unit flexible OLED business. This leaves plenty of growth opportunity for foldable displays in the coming years as they resolve their manufacturing issues.
“Foldable displays are currently difficult to mass produce with high reliability and low cost due to their extreme mechanical and optical properties,” Kang said. “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.”
Since 2019, six devices with foldable displays have been launched in the market. However, most of these devices had their release date postponed, or suffered damage issues. To address these challenges, panel suppliers and smartphone manufacturers are striving to improve the reliability of foldable displays in order to boost demand for foldable displays.
“The foldable display market could grow much more rapidly if the reliability of foldable cover lenses, touch sensors and polarizer films is improved,” Kang 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).”