The new Galaxy S4 from Samsung Electronics joins a growing trend of premium smartphones featuring enhanced active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) panels, spurring the market for these high-quality displays to more than double by 2017.
AMOLED Shipments Growing
AMOLED display shipments for mobile handset applications are expected to grow to 447.7 million units in 2017, up from 195.1 million units in 2013, according to insights from the IHS iSuppli market research firm. Within the mobile handset display market, the market share for AMOLED displays is forecast to grow from 7.9% in 2013 to 15.2% in 2017, as presented in the figure below. AMOLED’s market share for 4” or larger handset displays employed in smartphones is set to increase to 24.4% in 2017, up from 23.0% in 2013.
“Because of their use in marquee products like the Galaxy S4, high-quality AMOLEDs are growing in popularity and gaining share at the expense of liquid crystal display (LCD) screens. These attractive AMOLEDs are part of a growing trend of large-sized, high-resolution displays used in mobile devices. With the S4 representing the first time that a full high-definition (HD) AMOLED has been used in mobile handsets, Samsung continues to raise the profile of this display technology,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, director for mobile & emerging displays and technology at IHS.
There are numerous smartphones with 1920*1080 displays on the market, including, 4.8” HTC One, 5.0” Sony Xperia Z, 5.0” ZTE Grand S, 5.0” OPPO Find, 5.5” LG Optimus G Pro and 5.5” Lenovo IdeaPhone K900. Only Samsung uses a full HD AMOLED panel on its Galaxy S4.
Samsung Tackles Technical Issues
The high-resolution mobile handset display market is currently dominated by low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) TFT-LCDs, which accounts for the entire full HD mobile handset display market.
Reaching the high-resolution point with true pixel densities greater than 300 pixels per inch (ppi) has been a challenge for AMOLED displays, as it is difficult to achieve dense pixel arrangements using the conventional fine metal mask (FMM) process while still securing enough display brightness and not compromising power consumption.
Samsung Display, however, was able to enhance AMOLED display performance by implementing two new technologies in addition to its existing FMM process. The maker succeeded in increasing the lighting area in AMOLED panels with its new structure of Pentile matrix, and it used phosphorescent material for the green subpixels, allowing better light management and lower energy consumption.
As a result, the AMOLED display was able to achieve a denser pixel arrangement, boosting its pixel density to greater than 400ppi and resulting in 1920*1080 Full HD display in the Galaxy S4.
Galaxy S4 will be the first Full HD AMOLED display offering in the market. However, material lifetime, color balance and limited supplier base still need to be addressed for a larger market presence of OLEDs and stronger competitiveness against LTPS TFT-LCDs.