The latest research from WitsView, a division of TrendForce, reveals that shipments of panels for smartphone displays for 2015 are expected to reach 1.82 billion units, and the total shipments for 2016 are forecast to grow 7% year on year to 1.95 billion units. Thin-film transistor (TFT) LCD smartphone panels manufactured with low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) and oxide TFT technologies are projected to account for 29.8% of the 2015 global smartphone panel shipments. Their share is forecast to expand further to 34.6% in 2016. Samsung Display Corp. (SDC) has been busily promoting the active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) technology, which is estimated to represent 12.1% of smartphone panels shipped worldwide in 2015. For 2016, the share of AMOLED products in smartphone panel shipments will have a chance to grow to 14%.
“More smartphones in the mid-range market are adopting Full HD (FHD) display, and panel makers continue to lower their prices for LTPS products while expanding their LTPS capacities,” said Boyce Fan, WitsView senior research manager. “Under the current circumstances, shipments of LTPS smartphone panels are expected to keep growing in 2016. At the same time, AMOLED panels will gain more grounds in the high-end smartphone market as well. Panels manufactured with the traditional amorphous silicon (a-Si) technology, by contrast, will continue to see their share in smartphone panel shipments get squeezed in the competition.”
Chinese smartphone vendors will drive the LTPS demand in the mid-range and high-end markets
Fan also noted that the global LTPS capacity for a long time catered mainly to Apple for its iPhone series, with the major suppliers being Japanese Display Inc. (JDI), LG Display (LGD) and Sharp. Other smartphone vendors could only secure surplus capacity for their high-end models. However, panel suppliers lately have been eyeing China as a target market for LTPS products on account of local smartphone brands’ rapid rise. First-tier panel suppliers are still ahead in terms of technology and shipment volume for their LTPS products. However, late market entrants – AU Optronics (AUO), Innolux, Tianma and BOE Technology (BOE) – are starting to expand their capacities and intend to increase their LTPS market share with aggressive pricing.
AMOLED panels present an opportunity for smartphone vendors to differentiate their products
The gradual homogenization of smartphone panel products has given the AMOLED technology a chance to expand its market share. Fan pointed out that AMOLED panels offer high color saturation along with being light, thin and efficient in power consumption. These are qualities that smartphone vendors can use to set their products apart from the competition. Moreover, SDC is pressing ahead with selling AMOLED panels to customers outside of the Samsung brand and has established itself in the supply chains of several Chinese smartphone vendors during 2015. Approximately 20% of the total AMOLED panel shipments from SDC in 2015 went to non-Samsung customers, according to WitsView’s projection.