According to a new report published on Monday, with the release of Samsung's foldable smartphone early next year, demand for flexible OLED panels will rise. Competitors will be trying to take market share away from Samsung, the early leader in supplying phone manufacturers with this technology. For example, China's BOE is looking to become a source of flexible OLED panels to Apple at the exact time the latter is trying to move away from relying on Samsung. And LG Display is looking to launch its limited run of small to mid-sized flexible OLED panels by the middle of next year. That would be ahead of schedule.
Most of the folding smartphones to be released next year will require the flexible OLED panels to fold inward. Creating these panels is less complicated than producing screens for outward folding handsets. But there still are concerns. One question is whether these phones and their displays will be able to stand up to the heavy wear and tear from the constant opening and closing of the display by users. Additionally, the report mentions that dust could be a problem as it gets trapped inside the fold of a flexible OLED screen.
Samsung said last week that it would supply such displays to Chinese competitors like Oppo and Xiaomi. In fact, samples of these flexible screens have reportedly been delivered already to the two manufacturers. Samsung says that the reason it is willing to do this is to expand the ecosystem of foldable phones, helping consumers feel comfortable owning such a device. The company is expected to ship 1 million flexible OLED panels next year with the figure rising to 5 million by 2020.