Riding Samsung wave, AMOLED tech surges in Q2

Riding Samsung wave, AMOLED tech surges in Q2

Summary: The display technology is driven in large part by use in high-end Samsung smartphones and tablets.

Samsung's Galaxy S4 smartphone. (Photo courtesy Samsung)

Global shipments of active-matrix organic light-emitting diode, or AMOLED, display panels grew 16 percent in the second quarter of 2013, according to new research from the firm IHS, bringing total shipments from 45.6 million units last quarter to 53.1 million units in Q2.

Year over year, the growth is even more significant: 41 percent.

The boost comes courtesy of Samsung, which is both the largest producer and largest consumer of the technology. The company has included AMOLED displays in many of its high-end smartphones, including its flagship Galaxy S4, "driving the rapid growth of the small-sized AMOLED market," IHS's Vinita Jakhanwal says. As such, it's "responsible for most of the supply and demand for the panels."

The biggest single use of the technology is in the Galaxy S4, which accounts for 10 million five-inch panels per month, IHS says. The preceding model, Samsung's Galaxy S III, takes second place with a 4.8-inch panel.

Smartphones account for 97 percent of all AMOLED display use. In addition to Samsung devices, the display technology is present in Nokia's Lumia 900 and Motorola's flagship Razr model.

AMOLED technology is favored because of its clarity, light weight and high contrast ratio over technologies such as low-temperature polysilicon, or LTPS. The most prominent holdout of the technology is Apple, which has resisted using its strongest mobile competitor to supply the displays for its iPhone.

According to IHS figures, the average size of panels is gradually increasing, as is the price per inch, due to demand. Despite the popularity of smartphones, though, OLED represents a sliver of a display market that is dominated by conventional liquid crystal display, or LCD, technology.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Samsung

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • Apple, lawyers, and unintended consequences.

    One wonders how much Apple sales would be up if they had made a private deal with Samsung that included first dibs on the AmoLED technology rather than spending the hundreds of millions on suing them.

    A mediocre lawyer can beat a genius technologist every time. In the US.
    • AMOLED technology is quite mediocre if you will clear up from the marketing

      ... mantra from Samsung's giant advertisement budget (which is more than twice bigger than Apple's, and includes bribing software developers for voicing their "opinions", arranging fake commentators against competitors such as HTC and Apple, orchestrating fake outcries over non-existent issues, copying Apple advertisements from years ago, like they did it Galaxy Gear, fraudulently adjusting performance of its Galaxy devices in test, and many more nastiness).
  • Re: Apple

    I don't know a lot about these screen technologies, but I do know that I haven't liked the screens on any Samsung device that I've seen. The colours are all distorted - neon'ish.
    Apple's screens have great colour reproduction and I believe that is why they haven't changed technologies.
  • Such reasearches are impossible to do, so numbers are pointless

    Samsung's Galaxy S4 still did not reach 30 million sales level by now, by Ocrober, and yet IHS thinks that only in Q2 -- from April to July -- there were 30 million panels?

    As to AMOLED technology, it does not offer any better "clarity". It offers better contrast in the darkness because there is no backlight. In reality there is always ambient light and SGS4 screen was found to reflect much more light than iPhone 5/5c/5s screen (http://hi-tech.imgsmail.ru/hitech_img/d579742671877da9e77a1a263911f4d0/r/884x-/i/a9/cc/3aa392b3d290bd7cb4952dfe7d15.jpg), so actual contrast might be even WORSE.

    Also, AMOLED is energy-saving only when average brightness of the screen is less than about 20%. Otherwise it consumes MORE, not less (this is because organic LEDs have much lower efficiency than non-organic LEDs).
    • Old hat...

      Times change. Although the pentile arrangement is the same the current display on the Note3 is better in every way that the display on the S4. Setting it on "movie" preset makes it also one of the most accurate displays in the mobile industry. DisplayMate had great words on the most recent AMOLED units, the same outfit that praised the iphone retina display for its qualities when it first appeared.
      AMOLED consumes more when white colours abound. On average it consumes less, especially using dark themes - dark is achieved by turning off the actual pixels.
      • DisplayMate was accurate, registering twice lower contract SGS4 screen ...

        ... versus iPhone 5s (5c/5) with situation of ambient lighting. Colour reproduction in non-standard (for Samsung's Android) settings are pretty accurate, though slightly worse than accuracy of iPhone 5s (5c/5), because the colour space does not really match sRGB triangle, it is slightly off. Reading books and browsing still kills battery due to low power efficiency of OLED vs LED.

        Overall, there is no incentive to switch to AMOLED whatsoever. It has advantages like being thinner and lighter and consuming less on the black background UI, but it consumes more otherwise and has way lower contrast in most of real life situations (which include ambient lighting).

        As with everything, no wonders, plus and minuses everywhere.
  • New television OLED displays the best ever seen

    The 2013 October issue of Consumer Reports states that the new OLED television displays have the best picture they have ever seen on a television.
    • Consumer Reports was only good for finding better vacuum cleaners in 1950s

      In last years they were a shame.

      Remember their ridiculous flip flop over iPhone 4 antenna "issue"? At first they said they had no issue at all, but then they wanted to get cheap PR so they retracted their recommendation and they wrote that iPhone 4's antenna issue is critical.

      In reality, of course, there was no issue. iPhone 4 went to sell like more than hundred million units UNCHANGED. Even when Apple offered "bumbers" for free for three months, only like 3% of buyers turned out to need them.

      So there is no weight in them declaring anything "the best" or "the worst" even if it actually true -- as they have no reputation, aside for being PR prostitute.
      • DDERSSS reply

        Well, well, DDERESS, what muck you toss around! In contrast, Samsung, LG and Sony must be of the same opinion as the team at Consumer Reports. Now, the top end television screens of all three manufacturers are OLED. The OLED screens have incredibly deep blacks, their colors are spot on, they have truly ghost free images, and they have the best 3D performance of any other Plasma, LED or LED/LCD screen on the market.
        The fact that iPhone 4 customers were able to work around the acknowledged iPhone 4 antenna boondoggle matters neither here nor there with regard to this matter.
        By the way, Samsung controls the majority of the world's patents on OLED.
        • Do you read to what you are replying to?

          I did not write that OLED televisions are bad. I wrote that CR declaring either "best" or "worst" has no meaning.

          And iPhone customers never actually had to deal with any workaround. This is hard fact, the last iPhone 4 with exactly the same hardware design as original was produced just couple of months ago, more than three years from the point when it was declared good, and then bad by CR.
  • Did you read what you are replying to

    Consumer Reports did not think the antenna issue critical until the magazine itself also encountered problems with the antenna signal. When they encountered issues of dropped calls, they suggested using tape to cover the lower left antenna gap. When they again tested the phone using Apple's "bumper" (notice the spelling) designed by Apple to resolve the problem, CR encountered no problem with this fix - so recommended the phone. Other magazines like PC World also identified the problem.

    Some say it was the legal challenge brought on by some consumers through Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff that also forced Apple to respond to the problem.

    It is a handsome shiny phone and works well with the "bumpers", a proper hand grip' or any other assortment of 3rd party skins and covers which the majority of iPhone 4 users have. The Apple iPhone received multitudes of free press over bountiful Apps and ease of use.
    • CR "thoroughly" tested iPhone 4 and find now antenna issues

      And even after initial reports on antenna issues appeared, they released statement that there was no issues.

      It was few days later when their editors flip-flopped and retracted recommendation.

      This story is just proof how cheap CR is, and how insignificant antenna issue was. None of testing laboratories detected any and described issues until they saw how to "short" antenna. This is the reason why iPhone 4 hardware design was selling crazy for years without single change, and only 3% of buyers ever needed bumbers even when they were offered by Apple for free.