BOE Continues to Tout its Flexible OLEDs
December 11, 2017
In a seemingly endless stream of images coming out of Chine, BOE’s OLED demos continue to flood the trade press, with the latest set extolling the virtues of the company’s 6.18” OLED display with a tiny notch, similar to that of the iPhone X. The accompanying article with this latest batch states that ‘common sense’ says that the cost of this screen should be lower that Samsung’s product of the same level, but then adds, “if it can be successfully mass produced”.
The pictures below are for a 2992 x 1440 (expanded 2K) resolution display, with a ppi of 537, and a 390-nit brightness and, we assume, are expected to compare with the current offerings from Apple and Samsung, which are noted in the next table. While the promotional value of these demos is high, particularly when seen by the state and regional funding sources that financed BOE’s OLED production facilities, we note again, that Samsung Display’s experience with small panel OLED displays is years ahead of others, and their ability to manufacturer displays based of flexible substrates follows that same trajectory. That is certainly not to say that BOE or others cannot catch up to Samsung’s current offerings, but making assumptions that this will happen quickly is a bit premature.
BOE’s potential flexible OLED customer base will likely be Chinese smartphone brands that are looking to both use domestic suppliers (less) or gain some pricing leverage with a display producer (more), which they will not have with Samsung Display, but while BOE moves such displays from demo to high volume manufacturing, SDC will not be standing still and recent ‘leaked’ photos of potential Galaxy S10 (or Note 10) smartphones reveal that Samsung is working on a completely bezel-less and rounded smartphone that would leapfrog current models, although the upcoming S9 will likely still have a small bezel (~90% screen to body ratio). We note that much, or maybe ‘most’ of the speculation concerning anticipated smartphone characteristics proves incorrect and we certainly don’t hold out any of the current speculation as truth, but we do note that if Samsung is to release a new Galaxy smartphone at CES, they would likely be starting production currently, and we would expect ‘leaks’ to proliferate. In order to maintain the Chinese nationalistic pride that is currently playing out, we would expect considerable further hype from the Chinese press toward the potential for Chinese dominance of the OLED industry, which we would warn investors to take with a grain of salt currently.
Table 1: Screen Characteristic Comparison - Selected Flagship Smartphones