LG to release OLED smartphone

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LG to release OLED smartphone

LG Electronics’ premium smartphone, set for release in September, will include an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display, putting it in direct competition with the Samsung Electronic phones that have already adopted the display type.

LG’s recent series of flagship phones, including the G6, had liquid crystal displays (LCDs). The upcoming V30 will sport an OLED FullVision display, a patented term LG has coined to describe minimized bezels. The display will feature a plastic substrate instead of a glass substrate that can break easily.

The new phone is scheduled to be showcased in Berlin on Aug. 31, a day before the IFA tech fair kicks off. It will be LG’s first OLED smartphone since the LG G Flex 2 in 2015. LG came up with the curved model that sported a 5.5-inch flexible plastic OLED to test the market potential of the display type but has since stuck with LCD screens.

In an OLED display every pixel provides its own illumination, whereas all of the pixels in an LCD are illuminated by an LED backlight. That means OLEDs can be very thin, leading to thinner devices. OLEDs have other benefits such as brighter displays and better power efficiency.

The shift from LCD to OLED “marks a move by LG to extend its OLED leadership from the premium TV sector into the premium smartphone space,” said an LG spokesman. “Beyond their slim profile and excellent visuals, OLED displays in smartphones are ideal for VR applications, one of the key growth areas in the smartphone industry.”

Samsung has been ahead of LG and other smartphone producers in using OLED displays. Samsung Display’s trademarked OLED screen type is called Amoled, short for active-matrix organic light-emitting diode. Amoled has been used in smartphones since 2008. The Super Amoled display, a variant of Amoled, is featured in the latest flagship Galaxy S8. Amoled can be used on any display size and has a faster refresh rate than conventional OLEDs.

LG’s choice of OLED over LCD came as OLED is poised to become a smartphone industry standard starting this year. According to forecasts from industry experts, Apple’s iPhone 8, its 10th anniversary edition expected to debut in September, will switch from the current LCD display to Amoled from Samsung.

Nikkei Asian Review quoted IHS Markit analyst David Hsieh as saying in April that Samsung is likely to be the sole display supplier for Apple and is expecting to produce as many as 95 million units for Apple in 2017.

Samsung also supplies OLED displays to Huawei, the world’s third-largest smartphone producer. The Chinese giant said earlier it would scale up OLED smartphones from 2 percent to 8 percent of its smartphone portfolio.

Samsung Display is the most dominant player in small to medium sized OLED panels, with a 95 percent global market share, according to UBI Research in February. But its share of the market is expected to slide to as low as 72 percent by 2020, the market researcher predicts, as LG Display and other Chinese and Japanese rivals are gearing up to mass produce full-scale mobile OLEDs.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]
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