Google Nexus One Shifting From AMOLED To LCD

Korea Telecom (KT), one of three major carriers in South Korea and the only one that carries GSM phones like the iPhone 3GS with plans to carry the iPhone 4, has shared with The Korea Herald that HTC plans to switch from AMOLED to LCD for its smartphones. The reason? The AMOLEDs that the company is using is in shortage and it can’t get enough. KT originally planned to launch the Nexus One in late June but because of the change from AMOLED to LCD, KT had to delay the Nexus One launch to late July. It will be interesting to see how KT handles the launches of both the Nexus One and Apple’s iPhone 4 in the same month (read Nexus One Lands in Korea via Korea Telecom for more info).

Samsung’s got Super AMOLED and now Sony has Super TFT LCD. Not surprising since LG Display (LGD) has Super IPS and Samsung also has a Super variant of its PVA LCD. Super is in, I guess. The Super TFT LCD will be going into HTC’s new smartphones and ones that are already on the market sporting AMOLED displays. According to KT, Sony’s Super LCD consumes less power than regular LCDs, features a higher resolution than SMD’s AMOLED but has a lower contrast ratio.

There is a shortage of Samsung Mobile Display’s 3.7-inch PenTile Matrix-based AMOLED boasting an equivalent RGB 800×4800 pixel format (read Nexus One PenTile Matrix OLED Display and Nexus One “Resolution” Debate Continues for more info). I have no doubt Samsung is doing all that it can to supply its important customers such as HTC with the AMOLED displays but there is also a clear and strong incentive to keep as much as it can for its own Samsung-branded smartphones. SMD has an annual capacity to manufacture about 35 million mobile-sized AMOLED panels and a SMD spokesperson said the company is running its AMOLED production line at full capacity. The Galaxy S from Samsung sports SMD’s Super AMOLED display (read Samsung Galaxy S with Super AMOLED for more info) and is expected to post sales of 10 to 15 million units in the second half of this year according to Sung-in Kim, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities based in South Korea. That means about 57 to 86% of SMD’s total AMOLED production capacity could be used up just for Samsung’s Galaxy S in the second half.

It isn’t surprising that Samsung recently announced that it is building the world’s largest OLED manufacturing plant. Production capacity would go from 35 million AMOLED panels a year to 30 million 3-inch equivalent AMOLED panels per month. The Gen 5.5 OLED line will be finished in July 2011 (read Samsung Mobile Display To Invest US$2.1 Billion For OLED Plant for more info).

HTC’s Desire, Droid Incredible, Nexus One all sport SMD’s AMOLED display. According to KT the Google Nexus One manufactured after July will incorporate Sony’s Super TFT LCD and be distributed worldwide. Interestingly enough SMD isn’t the only company not being able to meet demand; the Retina Display used in the iPhone 4 and manufactured by LGD is also experiencing shortages. About two million Retina Displays (read Retina Display for more info) per month are being shipped according to Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw.