Sharp is gearing up for AMOLED panel production because Apple might ditch LCD screens

An AMOLED panel flexing for the camera.

An AMOLED panel flexing for the camera.


It's been kind of a news pattern lately. Hot display panel maker that happens to do business with Apple invests in AMOLED screen production lines. Industry analysts jump the gun and proclaim it's all done for supplying Apple with AMOLED screens for next or next-next year's iPhones. Bang! Internet explodes! Honestly, we're not sure the two are necessarily correlated, but hey, if knowledgeable analysts insist it's so, then we'll have to roll with it!

So here it goes – in the zenith of Apple device assembler Foxconn's reported $3.5 billion acquisition of Japanese technological powerhouse Sharp, the later has begun installing new production lines dedicated exclusively to AMOLED smartphone panel making. Why. Because – wait for it – Apple is reportedly lining up suppliers to equip its future iPhones with AMOLED screens. Now who would have thought?

For the record, Taiwanese trade digest DigiTimes reported that Sharp has set up three production lines that supposedly boast a collective production capacity of 9.85 million 5.5-inch AMOLED panels per month. More specifically, the lines will produce 13 000, 11 500 and 34 500 glass substrates respectively.

Over the years, AMOLED screens have evolved to provide generally better visibility under direct sunlight than the LCD IPS screens Apple traditionally uses, in addition to punchier colors, deeper blacks, and significantly reduced power consumption due to the absence of backlight. The Apple Watch is currently the only Apple device that uses OLED panels, but that's said to be changing in 2018, as the iPhone maker is looking to switch to AMOLED screens.

Not only does the technology allow for very good image quality nowadays, but AMOLED panels have also become cheaper to produce than LCD ones. IHS Technology claims that production costs of AMOLED and LCD panels in the first quarter of 2016 have gone down to $14.3 and $14.6, respectively, based on the cost for a 5-inch Full-HD Smartphone. Thus, an onslaught of AMOLED screens across low and mid-range phones seems like a legitimate possibility in the coming months. The decreased cost also makes for a good time for those money-conscious Cupertinians to grab themselves an AMOLED bargain for the 2018 iPhone's volume production!

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59 Comments

1. hafini_27

Posts: 942; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

Nice. I love Amoled.

7. sgodsell

Posts: 6655; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

AMOLED is superior to any LCD, and has been that way for years. It even uses less energy so it will make users batteries last longer. Not to mention AMOLED panels are the only ones that allow bending and folding. Apple is always slow to adopt the best tech.

10. Unordinary unregistered

Apple has had Amoled on their watches since day 1. It's not that they're slow. It was pretty hard to supply the iPhone with amoled before when it wasn't cheaper, when you're selling the most amounts of a single flagship, the fastest amount of time. On a watch, that not everyone will buy, that is 1/8th the size... Well. Do the math

24. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

+1 on the post.

49. Bm888

Posts: 517; Member since: Jul 06, 2015

And Apple will reinvent the display to.. "retina plus"... :-P

58. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Seriously? Funny how Samsung screens have been AMOLED since the S3 and original Note, yet until the S6, the galaxy S was 599 on VZW. lol Maybe typical LCD panels weer cheaper than AMOLED, but not Apple's IPS display. Those are more expensive because they require special tooling to cram so many pixels into a smaller panel and it required software to correct what you actually saw on the screen. Don't believe the hype. I'm not saying the display didn't drop in price. I am saying that many OEM like LG and Samsung both were using them and their phones cost the same or even less than an iPhone for quite a while. In fact, the S7 is the first time I've seem a Galaxy S above $600

65. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

I paid 572 for mine

74. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

They had AMOLED since the Galaxy S. Not S3 :/

38. jove39

Posts: 2137; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

"...It even uses less energy..." This is true only when displaying blacks...when whites are displayed LCD is more efficient.

52. Romantico3pe

Posts: 155; Member since: Sep 14, 2015

Amoled is trash compared to lcd .every Samsung device i have owned has suffered from burn in. The s6 was my last samsung phone. It got burned in, in less than a month by having google maps on 8 hours a day, amoled is garbage

57. jove39

Posts: 2137; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Not many people are aware of this -ve affect.

59. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

LIES LIES LIES LIES LIES. Unless you have never turned your screen off, you woudlnt even own a Samsung long enough to get burn-in. I have my original Galaxy S3 and S4 and they dont have any burnin and I knwo from videos exactly what to look for. Maybe its because my phone sis on 24/7. I actually put it down because i have a life. Ever Samsung I have owned I usually have for 1 year. But I use my S3 for 1 year, then mty mom use dit for 2 years. My wife had her S4 for one year, then my sister used it for 2.5 years and both have no burn-in and I know my sister who didnt have a tv for at least one year used the S4 to watch lots of movies. Still I see no burn-in. I am not saying it has never happened to anyone. But it is so rare it isnt even worth talking about. Super AMOLED appears to not have this issue unless you're just rough with your device.

60. alexp999

Posts: 77; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

Unfortunately it's not lies, just the inherent nature of having individually lit pixels that degrade over time, the same issue with plasma TVs. On an LCD even the LEDs making up the backlight will degrade but they only affect the overall brightness. On an OLED display the LEDs will degrade unevenly depending on what has been shown on the display like the status bar and buttons etc. It is impossible to prevent this on displays like OLED you can only reduce the affect by increasing the life of the display so it does not degrade so fast. Every Amoled display will wear unevenly unless it is only displaying a single colour it is just a matter of time and how sensitive your are to screen abnormalities as to when you notice it.

61. Unordinary unregistered

Lmfaooo!!!! All I read there was "WAAAAA WAAAAA WAAAAA"

66. Romantico3pe

Posts: 155; Member since: Sep 14, 2015

sorry but it does burn in. i have to use my phone as navigation device everyday for 8 hours a day and let me tell you that in fact it does burn in. once i switched to lg g4 i never saw any burn in or ghosting. It is a fact AMOLED DOES BURN IN sooner or later it does; until they fix this issue AMOLED IS TRASH PERIOD.

73. Andr01d

Posts: 63; Member since: Mar 08, 2016

Actually, my mother received a SGS 5 (AT&T gold color) from her sister and it arrived with a very heavy burn-in, it has the mother**ing facebook page all over the screen, mostly when showing white colors, heck, you can even see the facebook logo and name and everything... Also, another thing that bothers me a lot about AMOLED is the fact that it has a very poor color reproduction, sometimes it has a blueish or yellowish tone depending on the manufacturers liking and an OK brightness output. When comparing 2 phones that use SUPER-AMOLED displays, I can sure tell that LCD is superior on side-by-side tests, the phones with the AMOLEDs where the original MOTO X and the SGS 5 vs the Iphone 4 and the MOTO X PURE, the LCD is superior on almost every test except the min brightness for obvious reasons, but while maxed out, the LCDs win by a lot. (Except the Iphone since it has an older and crappier display)

63. ph00ny

Posts: 1976; Member since: May 26, 2011

What in the world? You do understand that LCDs have the issue with burnins/image retention issues too specially if you use stationary images for a long periods of time in most likely the highest brightness setting you can find

70. Skimshaddy

Posts: 126; Member since: Feb 23, 2016

You must have been smoking something there. If this is the case, all those used galaxy selling on eBay would have burn in screen lol.

71. stanislav

Posts: 136; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

The best displays with widest color gamut are LCDs, check eizo

3. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1337; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Since it is cheaper why wouldn't Apple go this route in order to maximize its profits? However now they have to eat a little bit of crow ( at least those of us that kept bashing Samsung's Amoled displays) for years many belittling Amoled as being inaccurate in colored reproduction and susceptible to burn in. Now Apple is rumored to make the move and all of the pundits will now trumpet the virtues of Amoled. We will hear that old refrain of " Apple waits to a technology is mature and then implement it better than anyone" The truth of the matter ( that I now see, if this is true) is not that a technology is perfected by costly R&D for Apple but it is Matured in price meaning it got cheaper to produce. " I can't blame them for that as that is what corporations do - produce cheaply and sell high to make a profit. But now people must admit that that is a strategy Apple masterly employ. How will they implement Amoled better than Nokia, Motorola and Samsung?

6. sgodsell

Posts: 6655; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

For years AMOLED has been far superior to LCD. Especially since it uses less power than any LCD display. Plus the burn in crap is just that crap. When I had a Nexus S I saw burn in on that device, but the last 4 years I have not seen any burn in with any of the AMOLED panels in my devices. So AMOLED is superior to LCD.

4. iLovesarcasm

Posts: 589; Member since: Oct 20, 2014

iFans 2010-2014: "AMOLED is too saturated and inaccurate colors, and burns easily"

25. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

iFans right after iPhone use AMOLED: "iAMOLED is the best screen ever"

27. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

Well it's now 2016......it's still way to over saturated for my taste but the blacks and the battery savings is enough to offset that. Also, it's the only display that you can bend. I'm not one who ever bashed the tech though. I've been waiting to get me a 4K OLED TV, but that price though!

32. natypes

Posts: 1110; Member since: Feb 02, 2015

I think you need to check the color reproduction of the Samsung S6, S7 and Note variations. They are some of the most color accurate screens there are.

75. mooseolly

Posts: 5; Member since: Jan 13, 2012

Dude , there are screen modes on the Galaxy S6 and S7. If you hate oversaturated colour you can just change the mode to "basic" instead of "adaptive" which will produce one of the most accurate colours ever.

72. stanislav

Posts: 136; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Its true, first amoled that was not compleat peace of s**t was in the Note 4, and they are still more inaccurate than some LCDs.

5. JMartin22

Posts: 2311; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

This is good for AMOLED as a developing display technology. Another major fabricator other than Samsung will spur greater development and advancements more rapidly; due to competition in the market this is a win. AMOLED could finally have high-end LCD-like whites and still be as power efficient as them. One of OLEDs last great challenges as a maturing technology is power efficiency around 65% APL or higher and organic polymer longevity. Seeing how dim your screen gets after a full year of moderate use, due to the organic compounds burning out is never good. Super AMOLED displays panels from the Galaxy Note 5 and onward seem to be a bit better due to more efficient materials.

18. tedkord

Posts: 17050; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

The GS5 on have had more accurate whites than the iPhone that came at the same time.

41. JMartin22

Posts: 2311; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

Yet they looked horrible and yellowish/greenish next to an iPhone. Partially due to the calibration, but mostly due to the low brightness, since AMOLEDs are still very inefficient at displaying majority white content. I've owned them all, dating back to the S II and anyone who says burn in is a very rare occurrence, needs to stop lying to themselves

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