iPhone 8 will kickstart a revolution in OLED displays

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iPhone 8 concept
Apple is already driving an OLED boom.
Photo: iDropNews

iPhone 8 will drive mass adoption of OLED displays as rival smartphone makers fight to compete with Apple, new research shows.

Rumors have already accelerated the development of new displays for other brands, and it’s thought that 50 percent of all handsets will feature an OLED display by 2020.

Apple is expected to switch to OLED with a dramatically different iPhone 8 this fall to celebrate the iPhone’s tenth anniversary. It will likely be the only iPhone with an OLED display for 2017, but by 2019, every smartphone Apple makes could have one.

OLED displays are seen as superior than LCD displays, which Apple has been using since the iPhone’s debut, in mobile devices because they can deliver greater contrast, increased brightness, and more vibrant colors. They’re also more power-efficient.

An LCD display has a separate backlight, and it has to be lit to show anything — even dark images. However, OLED displays can light individual pixels, and black pixels do not light at all. That’s why they offer “always-on display” features that don’t drain too much battery life.

Samsung has been using OLED displays in its smartphones for years, and they are widely regarded as the best money can buy. It’s thought the South Korean company will be supplying Apple with these displays for iPhone 8, but LG could take over later.

Whatever the case may be, OLED display makers are going to be busy in the coming years. TrendForce says that expansions from Chinese and Korean panel makers will see OLED penetration in the smartphone market increasing to 50 percent by 2020.

“Apple’s move has been closely watched by its competitors,” said Boyce Fan, research director of WitsView. “The reveal of the next iPhone’s specifications has accelerated the deployment of AMOLED displays for other smartphone brands. Panel makers, especially those from China, are hastily building up their AMOLED manufacturing capacity as well.”

Some display makers have even altered their expansion plans to prepare for this shift. BOE and Tianma, which are building new facilities that were reserved for LTPS panels, are now turning them into OLED factories.

This isn’t the first time Apple has kickstarted a trend. In smartphones alone, Apple drove the adoption of touchscreens, fingerprint scanners, mobile payments, and more.