As LG lands big Apple order, flexible OLED shapes up to be the future of wearables

April 25, 2014

    Flexible Display Concepts

    Image Credit: beginnerstech

    Wearable technology is opening up brand new opportunities for component developers, particularly when it comes to display manufacturing. OLED and AMOLED technologies make a lot of sense for wearables due to their energy efficiency, the Moto 360 is rumored to be using an OLED display for this very reason. The Gear Fit is the first device to take wearables one step further, with a curved AMOLED display for a more comfortable fit.

    With this in mind, there are only two smartphone players with industry leading components in this area, Samsung and LG, both of which base their technologies on OLED.

    Apple seems impressed by LG’s efforts in this field, as, according to rumors circulating from Korean news sources, the company has already placed an order with LG for some 12 million flexible OLED display units.

    LG G Flex vs Samsung Galaxy Round Quick Look Hands on AA (3 of 11)

    As nice as flexible smartphones are to look at, perhaps the technology is better suited to wearable devices.

    Being one of the few companies still left to officially announce a wearable product, all bets seem to be that LG will be sole provider of display components for the much rumored “iWatch”. If you are interested in the specifics, rumored details include two watch models in the 1.3 – 1.5 inch range, with production rumored to begin in July for an estimated release in September. If true, this is certain to be a lucrative deal for LG.

    It’s interesting that Apple has chosen LG over Samsung, which has previously provided components for Apple smartphones. We’ll have to wait and see if this is a result of the ongoing disputes between the two companies, or if LG actually has the better technology.

    At the present, Samsung is leading the field with its curved AMOLED display found in the Gear Fit. Although the product isn’t actually bendable, the 1.85 inch 432 x 128 display demonstrates that Samsung is capable of scaling its flexible display technology across a range of sizes, something which LG hasn’t proven capable of as of yet. The two companies have seen increased orders for flexible display components recently, partly due to the launch of their own Galaxy Round and G Flex smartphones, with wearables expected to have an even larger impact on component shipments in the future.

    Although Samsung might have a head start over its rival, LG is looking to improve and shrink down its flexible displays this year, which sounds ideal for the wearables market. Back in March the company also released details about a new process it developed for plastic substrate flexible OLED materials. This new design involves using specific R-G-B OLEDs, rather than White-OLEDs with color filters like LG’s displays do now. This new design should extend the life of the LED components. Clearly, this is a field that will be moving quickly over the next couple of years to meet growing consumer appetite for wearable products.

    samsung gear fit aa (1 of 20)

    The Gear Fit is likely to be the first of many wearables to make use of flexible display technology.

    With most of the big names in the smartphone industry already releasing, or at the very least announcing plans for, their own smart wearables devices, there’s increasing competition amongst component developers to stay at the front of the pack.

    Although Samsung is currently estimated to hold over 90% over the small OLED display market, the company’s efforts, at this time, seem to be focused more on product designs and less about refining its components, which could leave the door open for LG and other flexible OLED developers.

    Comments

    • DelorisBSparling

      With most of the big names in the smartphone industry already releasing, or at the very least announcing plans for, their own smart wearables devices, there’s increasing competition amongst component developers to stay at the front of the pack. http://u.to/b8IkBw

    • MasterMuffin

      LG can really benefit from the war between Apple and Samsung!

      • Bryan Z

        hell yeah they could! matter of fact they already are in some small way with phones like the M8 it does not feel like LG really wants to the low end market of Android much like samsung does but niche down into the high end android market which doesn’t really compete with apple in a way that Samsung does. Plus they are also selling their tech to apple. Very smart LG

      • shm224

        @mastermuffin:disqus : LG also makes smartphones and competes with Samsung and Apple. LG would make more money selling more smartphones than selling components to penny-pinchers like Apple.

        • MasterMuffin

          But they’re still benefitting :)

    • Fabian Taveras

      Now you fucked up LG! Just watch 5-10 years down the road apple is going to sue LG for stealing “THEIR” idea lol

      • Mr james bunt

        Why is Apple going to sue LG when Apple approach LG for the parts and components? The design and the making processes is filed by LG because LG make the bend screen and ship to Apple for them to assemble together with other components coming from other manufacturers. One thing for you to know, Apple DOES NOT MAKE OR PRODUCE components for their iPhone and iPad but they self produce only the body while they import or buys from other manufacturers. This is why you never see a slogan where it says “Made by Apple in USA ” Its always this slogan at the back of their iPhone n iPad “Made in China ” , “Assemble in USA”

        • Guest123

          Well, LG will develop killer tech that Apple will want and use, and apple will push it as “their innovative new tech” to their fans, and those fans will push it to everyone on the internet as apple’s invention, and apple will begin to believe that they actually invented the tech and will file a lawsuit against LG for producing said tech.

          Example:
          “apple invented multi-touch”

        • Jaime

          Really? You need to ask why? Guest123 made an excelente example.

        • Herp Derp

          Well then, why would Apple sue Samsung when Samsung supplies a great amount of parts for Apple?

          • Gator352

            Cause Apple thinks they are beyond “the shit” and can do whatever they please.

    • Dimitar Gospodinov

      haha I hope they get the ones in the G Flex that have that shadow efect…lol…
      And I guess Samsung is sick of the ungratefull fruit….it’s about time too…

      • Mr james bunt

        Why is Apple going to sue LG when Apple approach LG for the parts and components? The design and the making processes is filed by LG because LG make the bend screen and ship to Apple for them to assemble together with other components coming from other manufacturers. One thing for you to know, Apple DOES NOT MAKE OR PRODUCE components for their iPhone and iPad but they self produce only the body while they import or buys from other manufacturers. This is why you never see a slogan where it says “Made by Apple in USA ” Its always this slogan at the back of their iPhone n iPad “Made in China ” , “Assemble in USA ” .

        • Dimitar Gospodinov

          Lol…I was like “what?!”… Cheers!

        • Gator352

          Says “Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in China”.

    • Aniruddh

      Uber typo: they aren’t flexible, but curved screens!

      • Dimitar Gospodinov

        how do you know?

        • Aniruddh

          I meant the screens on Gear Fit and the current phones with curved screens.

          • Dimitar Gospodinov

            The one on the G Flex is actually flexible… I don’t know about the Fit… But I will bet it is to they just don’t let you flex it… lol

    • Yasir

      Samsung gears display is not flexible. its just curved!
      LG’s technology in terms of displays (OLed and Flexible) is ahead of Samsung’s….

      • shm224

        @Yasir: LG is ahead of what? Did you read the article — Samsung has something like 95% of OLED display market. That’s not because their CapEx is higher, Samsung is the only one so far succeeded in manufacturing OLED displays in mass volume. Samsung’s OLED patents portfolio is much larger than stronger than LG’s. The fact that LG recently came out with large OLED TVs first doesn’t change much.

    • Roberto Tomás

      wow LG gets to break the US “importation ban” on OLED just before Android loses it’s last chance at staying in the US market in the Apple vs Samsung (and Google) case.

      • Gator352

        Smoking meth at a lab in Idaho has done you no favors.

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