OLEDs will give Mini LEDs a hard time, until microLEDs mature

April 06, 2018 // By
According to a market research from WitsView, a division of TrendForce, Mini LEDs should target niche markets as they won't be able to compete economically with OLEDs in smartphones

The sales of iPhone X turned out to be less than market expectation, so Samsung has lowered the utilization rate of OLED production lines and the tight supply of OLED panels over the past two years has also been eased, notes WitsView. Apple has initiated the trend of OLED panels, and it is estimated that the penetration rate of OLED panel in smartphones will reach 46% by 2021.

Mini LED technology is overwhelmed by OLED’s technology maturity and competitive costs, so it might be hard for Mini LED to grow in the smartphone market in short term.

WitsView points out that, current supply of OLED panel from Samsung was occupied by iPhones and high-end Samsung smartphones, while the yield rate of other OLED panel makers remains low. As the result, mobile phone vendors have been trying to find alternatives for their flagship models. Mini LED is considered a feasible option because it is comparable to OLED in terms of high colour saturation, high contrast, and support to HDR. However, the advantages of OLED are more obvious. OLED can be thin, light and bendable as it does not need backlight

In addition to high colour saturation, high contrast, and fast response time, the biggest advantage of OLED panels is its features of self-emitting and bendable, allowing phone vendors to be more flexible in thickness and appearance design of phones.

But Mini LED can serve as a transitional product before microLEDs are fully ready to enter mass production. With the original LCD structure unchanged, the size of LED chips is reduced to 100 to 300 micrometres, and the LEDs are placed in the backlight modules through the matrix arrangement method. In a 5.5-inch FHD display, the LEDs can be as many as 2,000 to 10,000. Smaller number of LEDs needs longer optical distance, making the devices thicker. The large number of LEDs can reduce the required optical distance and improve the uniformity, making the entire device thinner, but will cause heat dissipation problems and make the cost higher. As present, how to achieve the balance remains the bottleneck for manufacturers.