Cover windows used in foldable smartphones will use both ultra thin glass (UTG) and colorless polyimide (CPI) films for at least the next five years, market research firm UBI Research said on Monday.
Shipment of CPI films and UTG will reach 4.5 million units and 3.5 million units, respectively, this year, the firm said.
Both materials will grow in the next 5 years __ in 2024, CPI films shipment will reach 37.1 million units and UTG 30.5 million units, UBI Research said in its forecast.
The research firm said it took into account the outlook for foldable OLED panels and manufacturers' yield rates.
Last year, Samsung Electronics, Huawei, Motorola and Royole all used CPI films for the cover windows of their respective foldable smartphones.
Samsung Display, which supplies the foldable OLED panels to Samsung Electronics, used Sumimoto Chemical’s CPI films. Chinese companies BOE and Royole both used those of South Korea’s Kolon Industries.
Samsung Electronics used UTG for the first time with the Galaxy Z Flip foldable smartphone launched earlier this year. It also plans to apply UTG for the cover window of Galaxy Fold 2 launching later this year.
Samsung Display uses UTG from German company Schott. South Korean firm Dowooinsys processes the glasses.
Samsung Display owns a stake in Dowooinsys and is prevent UTG from being used by rivals. Samsung Electronics has chosen UTG over CPI films as glass shines even when smartphone screens are turned off and has a more luxurious feel to them compared to plastic.
UBI Research estimates that Samsung Display will supply Samsung Electronics with foldable OLED panels with UTG, while shipping those with CPI films to Huawei. Most other vendors will use CPI films but are researching foldable OLED panels that uses UTG as well, the research firm added.