Higher resolution AMOLED displays are still expected to cost more than LCD

by: Kris CarlonMarch 25, 2016
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Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge OnePlus 2 - 1

Following up on the story out of South Korea this week that AMOLED displays are now cheaper to produce than their LCD counterparts, I spoke with Jimmy Kim, principal analyst at IHS Technology, who originally presented the manufacturing cost information at the Korea Display Conference in Seoul. As it turns out, there’s more to the story than initial reports suggest.

The Note 5 has physical keys, while the LG V10 uses on-screenSee also: AMOLED vs LCD: differences explained187

In case you missed the previous story, IHS presented data at the conference that showed the manufacturing costs for a 5-inch Full HD AMOLED display are now cheaper than their equivalent LCD counterpart. The cost discrepancy is small, with just 30 cents separating the two display types, but this is the first time that AMOLED panels have been cheaper to make than LCD.

IHS Technology - Display manufacturing costs

I asked Kim if the figures held true for higher resolution displays as well, and he told me that “regarding high resolution like QHD (there is no 4K AMOLED smartphone yet), LCD is still expected to show lower costs than AMOLED.” So while 5-inch AMOLED panels at Full HD definition may be cheaper, the trend doesn’t hold true across the full spectrum of screen resolutions.

When I asked if there was a possibility that an equivalent price drop in LCD production could reverse the situation, Kim said “the cost gap is very narrow and may be inverted in the near future”. So the war is far from won. Kim also pointed out that the figures presented during the display conference were based on IHS simulation results.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge OnePlus 2 - 4

For reference, the manufacture cost in Q4, 2015 for an AMOLED panel was $17.10 compared to $15.70 for LCD. In the first quarter of 2016 the projected costs dropped to $14.30 for an AMOLED display and $14.60 for an LCD screen.

So while we may well start seeing more AMOLED displays in mid-range devices (because they tend to have smaller screens and lower resolutions than flagships), LCD will remain competitive at higher resolutions. And, as Kim noted, an equivalent shift in manufacturing costs could just as easily see LCD make a comeback.

Which display type do you prefer? For what reasons?

  • Mickey Jones

    The only drawback to my Moto X Pure was that they changed from an AMOLED to IPS lCD. Boooo Moto. How much did you really save?

    • Lawstorant

      Think subpixels

    • illregal

      The lcd in the moto x pure is way, way way better then the amoled in the nexus 6.

    • Mine has horrible light bleed :/ makes me sad

    • Adrián Iriarte

      I come from the X 14 and i miss the amoled features like the pure black. The X style/pure has a better screen, but i really miss the amoled. The problem of the amoled? Burn in… I noticed on the moto x 14

  • Ronald Sims

    I hope AMOLED high-resolution are going to be produced more this year and also on the new Moto X. I mean, it’s not a deal breaker for me, but would have been nice to have one for my Moto X

  • Southall87

    I really thought lcd displays were good, until I got my Samsung galaxy s7 edge…. the display on this is just something else!

    • illregal

      over saturated, unrealistic, crappy in sunlight?

      • SaRPeR

        Just change the display mode to Basic and you get the most accurate colors from a smartphone display and Amoled displays are better under sunlight than IPS displays.

        • illregal

          Is that what displaymate said… They’re sponsored by Samsung. Amoled has never been better under sunlight.

          • Falcon

            Oh yes its is & that’s a fact, go to gsmarena, I have S7Edge & its as legible in sunlight as indoors, yeah, its that good!

          • charlie Jason

            Technology evolves, and I think you are a little close minded to new solutions.
            sRGB only covers a small portion of the color gamut visible to human eye. In that regard, IPS is undersaturated, and so is AMOLED, just much less so.
            Amoled may used to be bad in sunlight, but the last time I tried out an S6 it was perfectly visible in direct sunlight.

          • NorgesGlasset

            Amoled is now better in sunlight.. Tested it myself.

          • Tyler Haug

            Thing doesn’t agree with my opinion, bought and paid for by Samsung. Displaymate, paid off. DxoMark, in Samsung’s pocket. Anything that says the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge is good, is BOUGHT BY SAMSUNG. WE ALL KNOW HERE THE ONLY GOOD SMARTPHONE IS THE NEXUS 6P. ANYONE WHO SAYS ANYTHING POSITIVE ABOUT ANYTHING THAT ISN’T A NEXUS IS LYING AND PAID FOR BY WHAT EVER COMPANY. I MEAN, WE ALL KNOW NO ONE COULD GENUINELY LIKE A DEVICE, OR OBJECTIVELY PRAISE A DEVICE FOR IT’S GOOD QUALITIES. THAT’S JUST INSANE, THE ONLY WAY ANYTHING POSITIVE GETS SAID IS IF THE COMPANY PAID FOR IT! DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • illregal

            It’s literally their business model, look it up. Paid consultants. Also, check out how many other displays from other OEMs they test. The answer is 0. So tell me how is it, you can only test one, and claim its the best?

          • Tyler Haug

            They have tested the iPhone 6 display, which is sourced from either LG or Japan Display Inc. Which is a joint venture between Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi. So the answer is not 0. Plus, you just can’t say they’re paid consultants without providing actual evidence, not just, “Look it up.”

      • Dragomir Petrov

        Or the light bleed on LCD . By the way how realistic is gray colour which is supposed to be black ?

        • charlie Jason

          Exactly. OLED is superior in pretty much every way. The color gamut and the contrast on IPS are simply pathetic.

        • Marian Zamfir

          Or white.. you never know :)

      • NorgesGlasset

        Actually not.. Since S6 and Note 5 it has been MUCH better and more realistic then earlier compared to a simular LCD display. And the blacks.. LCD does not have a chance against AMOLED.. And that helps it getting better in realistic colour reproduction.

    • onstrike112

      My BlackBerry Priv has the same screen, and it doesn’t have the crappy Samsung bloatware that Samsung made famous. Lol

  • Fornavn Etternavn

    Apple don’t know what high resolution is so their imoled screen is coming.

  • Nallaikumaran

    The Super AMOLED isn’t cheaper. Do you not understand? Difference Between Super AMOLED (Galaxy S7) and AMOLED (Nexus 6P).

    Galaxy S7 and Samsung Phones – Super AMOLED costs $55 (SOURCE: IHS Mobile Handsets Intelligence Service).

    AMOLED $14.30 (NOW)

    Misleading people. C’mon man (KRIS CARLON) Tell me about the Super AMOLED price? Are you a dumbass? Don’t try to think we are all dumb here. Don’t hide the facts. Some facts you cannot hide. Just how honest are you? Have you no shame? They try to hide the truth.

  • Nallaikumaran

    The Super AMOLED isn’t cheaper. Do you not understand? Difference Between Super AMOLED (Galaxy S7) and AMOLED (Nexus 6P).

    Galaxy S7 and Samsung Phones – Super AMOLED costs $55 (SOURCE: IHS Mobile Handsets Intelligence Service -2016).

    AMOLED $14.30 (NOW)

    Misleading people. C’mon man (KRIS CARLON) Tell me about the Super AMOLED price? Are you a dumbass? Don’t try to think we are all dumb here. Don’t hide the facts. Some facts you cannot hide. Just how honest are you? Have you no shame? again you’re doing it wrong They try to hide the truth.

    • tragram

      First of all, they are comparing FHD screens here. The “Dual Edge” points out to the S7 Edge display, which can’t even be done using LCD. It is also possible, that they are showing the prices only for the screens, without the touch layer. Stop being ignorant pls.