Currently, Samsung Display has dominated the market and requested back in February to ramp up its production capacity to nine million panels per month to satisfy demand for Galaxy production. Then in June, a report estimated the company would provide Apple alone with 40 million AMOLED panels in 2017. The source now claims that they are for an upcoming 5.8-inch iPhone equipped with a flexible AMOLED display.
Flexible panels this year, foldable panels in 2018
The other main Korean panel supplier, LG, recently invested $1.7 billion to build a new facility for making flexible OLED smartphone panels, though production is not scheduled to begin until the following year. The company has also been confirmed to be partnering with Apple, Google and Microsoft to develop out-foldable panels instead of flexible ones, though these also will not be in production until 2018.
There may be a few foldable panel exceptions in 2017, however, as Samsung is reportedly developing a foldable 5.7-inch AMOLED panel for use in an upcoming device called the Galaxy X.
Global demand will exceed supply in 2017
In China, top-tier vendors including Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei are also expected to launch mid-range and high-end smartphones with flexible AMOLED panels this year. While Samsung is expected to supply the majority of global shipment volumes, other smaller suppliers in the mix are reported to include China-based BOE, New Vision Opto-Electronic, EverDisplay Optronics and Visionox.
The sources note that demand for flexible AMOLED panels in 2017 is expected to exceed global supply, signaling early consumer interest ahead of any design announcements. As such, Apple and Samsung are the only two manufacturers expected to secure enough supply this year to meet demand needs. The big question is whether the higher commodity cost will be handed to consumers in the form of flagship models with premium prices. However, the interesting part to watch will be the prices of any mid-range designs sporting flexible displays this year.