Apple's slow iPhone X adoption to impact AMOLED panel demand

April 19, 2018 // By Julien Happich
After showing triple-digit growth in 2017, flexible AMOLED panel is only expected to grow 34 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, according to IHS Markit's latest report Smartphone Display Intelligent Service.

Although flexible active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) panel shipments for smartphones are expected to continue growing in 2018, the pace will be much slower than expected, says the market research firm.

With the adoption by Apple’s iPhone X, shipments of film-based, flexible AMOLED panels for smartphones more than tripled in 2017 to 125 million units from 40 million units in 2016, and it was expected to see continued strong growth in 2018. However, sales of the iPhone X have not met market expectations, mainly because of the $1,000-plus price tag, which is partially attributed by a more pricey display panel.

“The weak demand for the iPhone X has made smartphone brands revisit their AMOLED panel purchasing plans,” said Hiroshi Hayase, senior director at IHS Markit. Now, flexible AMOLED panel shipments for smartphones are expected to reach 167 million units in 2018, up 34 percent from 2017, much slower than the expected almost double growth.

Apple seems to re-examine the percentage of its iPhone models using AMOLED panels and those using low-temperature-poly-silicon (LTPS) thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT LCD) panels for 2018. Major Chinese smartphone brands, such as Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi, also appear to continue applying LTPS TFT LCD panels instead of switching to AMOLED for their 2018 models, while Samsung Electronics plans to keep using flexible AMOLED panels for the Galaxy S9 this year.

As a result, demand for AMOLED smartphone panels by switching from TFT LCD panels is expected to slow down. According to the new report, shipments of total AMOLED panel shipments for smartphones are forecast to grow 14 percent to 453 million units in 2018, from 397 million units in 2017. Glass-based, rigid AMOLED panel shipments are expected to grow at a single digit pace to 285 million units in 2018.


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