Full high-definition (FHD) panels reached a record 21 percent of the smartphone display market in the third quarter (Q3) of 2015, due in large part to increases in active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) panel adoption by Samsung and others. Increasing demand from the Chinese smartphone market, and the popularity of the Apple iPhone 6S Plus, also added to growth in unit shipments of FHD panels that are able to show 1080p images, according to IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), a global source of critical information and insight. AMOLED displays comprised 18 percent of all smartphone display unit shipments in Q3 2015, up from 10 percent in Q3 2014.
The Samsung group has relied on AMOLED as an important differentiating feature in its proprietary Galaxy smartphones for six years, as it helps the company achieve better color performance, on-cell touch, and slimmer and lighter form factors. To expand market adoption, Samsung Display recently changed its smartphone display strategy to begin selling AMOLED panels to external customers.
Beginning in the second half of 2015, OPPO, Gionee, vivo, Meizu, Lenovo, Huawei and other smartphone brands, installed AMOLED in their devices. Meanwhile, products like the Google Nexus 6P, the Microsoft Lumia 950XL, the Meizhu Pro 5, and the recently announced BlackBerry Priv now have AMOLED displays.
“2015 will be a banner year for AMOLED as the technology will soon be included in high-end smartphones from many other companies,” said David Hsieh, senior analyst for IHS Technology. “The simpler structure and better picture performance of AMOLED screens may even encourage Apple to consider adopting the technology in the future.”
The plus-sizing of smartphones continues
Led by the rising popularity of the iPhone 6S Plus and other large smartphones, unit shipments of 5.0-inch-and-larger displays surpassed those of smaller displays for the first time in Q3 2015. While quarter-over-quarter unit shipments of 5.0-inch-and-larger displays grew 21 percent to reach 247 million units in Q3, smartphone displays smaller than 5.0 inches fell 6 percent to 156 million units.
Unit shipments of 5.0-inch smartphone panels experienced the largest growth of any size, jumping from 93 million in Q2 2015 to 104 million in Q3, which is the first time 5.0-inch shipments exceeded 100 million units in a single quarter. Thanks to the iPhone 6S Plus and other new models manufactured in China, 5.5-inch smartphone panels grew from 65.6 million in Q2 2015 to 79.8 million in Q3. Screen sizes of 6 inches and larger have not been as popular with smartphone buyers, so growth in that size range has been marginal.