Samsung Display has succeeded in developing and mass-producing OLED panels applied with the LTPO TFT technology, according to industry sources on Oct. 24. The panels have been installed in Samsung Electronics’ smart watch, the Galaxy Watch Active 2.
LTPO is a low-energy OLED display technology that was first commercialized for the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. These panels were supplied by LG Display at its E2 line in Paju of Gyeonggi Province. The display maker produced the panels based on Apple’s suggestions.
Samsung Display, on the other hand, appears to have developed the latest LTPO OLED panels based on independent technology.
The displays are now being mass-produced from Samsung Display’s A2 plant at its Asan 2 Campus in South Chungcheong Province. The panels are being created on flexible substrates. The display maker reportedly has the capacity to churn out up to 50,000 panels flexible a month from its Gen-5.5 lines at its A2 plant. For rigid panels, the monthly capacity is about 144,000 panels.
LTPO requires more layers than the existing LTPS method, and has to go through more procedures. This means lower yield, higher costs.
LTPO OLED technology received this year’s display award in May this year at Society for Information Display (SID) 2019. SID is the world’s largest display conference. The winner, however, was not LG Display, which produced the panels, but Apple, which owns patents regarding the LTPO TFT technology.
“Apple holds many key patents, but it looks like Samsung Display has developed its own LTPO technology,” said one source close to the matter. He added that unlike LG Display or Japan’s JDI, Samsung Display is not prone to accepting Apple’s demands.
Some others said the Samsung unit’s confidence in its technology may be one reason why it tries to play an upper hand against the US-based tech company. .
But because Samsung Display was unable to apply the LTPO panels to smartphones right away, it appears to be starting with smart watches, according to another source.
LTPO technology becomes much more effective when used in smart watches, and not phones because it is not as energy-efficient for them – mostly because smartphones are usually active non-stop, unlike the watches. Smartphones also have bigger panels of around 6 inches, while those for watches are around 2 inches at most. Bigger screens will mean more costs.
Apple, meanwhile, is moving to more widely apply LTPO panels to its iPhones. This means it needs to find ways to work together with Samsung Display, which is holding its own in terms of both technological prowess and production capacity in the small and mid-sized OLED sector.
The Elec is South Korea’s No.1 tech news platform.