Display Terminology: ‘AMOLED’

I was watching The Verge’s OnePlus 5 review on YouTube, but when Dan Seifert began going through the specs of the display and mentioned the OnePlus 5 having a 5.5-inch ‘AMOLED’ display (around the 1:00 minute mark) I became a little perturbed. I have several pet peeves when it comes to display terminology and this is one of them. Let me explain.

AMOLED. It stands for Active Matrix OLED (OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode). OLED displays in modern smartphones, tablets, laptops, monitors, TVs, etc. are almost all of the active matrix variety. The other older, less-used technology is passive matrix, but it’s been a long time since I have been exposed to a modern device sporting a PMOLED display.

Let’s use an example from the automotive industry. What would your response be if Car and Driver mentioned that the new 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS features an insane 700-horsepower turbocharged 3.6-liter flat-six fuel-injected engine? (What an engineering marvel, by the way!) Sure, there are engines without fuel injection… are there? Any cars with an engine without fuel injection? Probably not. You’d probably react, “That’s kinda weird. Why mention it’s fuel injected? Are there any modern car engines without fuel injection?” Your reaction would be appropriate since the fuel-injected part of a gasoline engine specification is assumed, and rightly so since almost all modern engines feature fuel injection. You might also start wondering if Porsche made gasoline engines without fuel injection.

Back to ‘AMOLED’. Is AM necessary, or even desirable? Absolutely not; it can be safely assumed when mentioning a modern smartphone features an OLED display that it is an active matrix OLED. Few occasions would warrant pointing out the active matrix-ness of an OLED display: when you’re comparing it to a passive matrix OLED display. And how often does that happen?

So why do knowledgeable technology sites like The Verge continue to mention the active matrix portion of an OLED display? Maybe out of habit. Or not being as anal about terminology as folks like me. Perhaps both. Utter AMOLED to long-time professionals in the display industry and it may sound to some as redundant, or worse; just OLED is, in my humble opinion, more than sufficient.

OnePlus 5 Focus on Dual-Lens Camera

Dan Seifert:

Even with the advantage of being based in Shenzhen, OnePlus still can’t always get the best components other companies might have. After all, both Apple and Samsung make their own processors, and Samsung is one of the leading manufacturers of display technologies in the world. Those in-house display and chip technologies show up in their phones long before they make it anywhere else. (Or in the case of Apple’s chips, they never show up in other companies’ products at all.)

For the OnePlus 5, that meant the company wasn’t able to utilize the tall, edge-to-edge screens that Samsung and LG have pushed this year. “This is something we want to try,” says Lau. “But we don’t currently have the resources or access to those displays.”

So OnePlus zeroed in its efforts on the part it can get: a better camera. The OnePlus 5 features a dual-camera system, a first for the company.

The “tall, edge-to-edge screens that Samsung and LG have pushed this year” are not merely tall and edge-to-edge; it is not just a different form factor. Those screens are the best screens that have been integrated into smartphones; they are even better than some of the best TV screens. These two companies’ smartphone displays are at the top or very near the top in color gamut, color accuracy, contrast, reflectance, brightness, and a plethora of other display metrics. Samsung has OLED, and LG has IPS LCD; Samsung’s OLED is curved, and LG’s IPS LCD is not. Either way you can’t go wrong with their tall, edge-to-edge screens, but the truth is as Seifert wrote: it will be a while before these beautiful displays get into the hands of other brands. The one exception would be Apple with its next iPhone expected to be announced around September with OLED displays that will likely be supplied by both Samsung and LG.

I expect the OnePLus 5 to have a good implementation of a dual-lens camera, especially the camera’s portrait capabilities. Similar in design and in function to the dual-lens iPhone 7 Plus. But the focus on making a better camera is not good enough. The challenge is to make the display as good as the camera. The display has to be just as good at transforming electrons back into photons as the camera is at transforming photons into electrons. For smartphone photography a great display with a so-so camera is just as useless as a so-so display with a great camera. The two go hand in hand. This camera-and-screen one-two punch is one of the many reasons why the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, and the iPhone 7 Plus are considered to be the best smartphones on the market today. The OnePlus 5 launches tomorrow at noon in New York City.

Source: The Verge

Google Seeks Strategic Investment & Relationship With LG Display To Secure OLED Smartphone Displays

Google Pixel

According to Korea-based ETNews (Korean), Mountain View, California-based Google has approached LG Display and offered a strategic investment of ₩1 trillion (around US$880 million) toward constructing a single line in a Gen. 6 small/medium flexible OLED fabrication plant. Instead of engaging LG Display toward establishing a long term supply agreement Google is seeking to establish a strategic relationship with one of the world’s largest supplier of displays.

Google is most likely experiencing difficulties acquiring OLED displays for its flagship Pixel smartphone. The world’s dominant supplier of smartphone OLED displays is Samsung, but Samsung will be using its own OLED supply for its newly launched Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. In addition there is speculation that Apple has secured most of the rest of Samsung’s OLED capacity for the next iPhone, which is expected to be named iPhone 8 or iPhone X. With Samsung’s OLED capacity earmarked for the Galaxy S8, S8+ and the next iPhone, Google needed to find another supplier and for the long term. The switch from LCD to OLED is underway and when Apple signals the smartphone world that OLED is the display technology of choice with its next iPhone all major brands will probably transition to OLED as well especially for their high-end smartphone offerings.

LG Display Paju Cluster

LG Display is currently building out two Gen. 6 flexible OLED fabrication plants: E5 in Gumi and Paju-based E6. E5 is expected to start production in Q3’17 while E6 is slated to come online in the second half of 2018. About $1.7 billion will be invested toward constructing the Gen 6 (1500x1850mm) flexible OLED fab; E6 is expected to have a monthly input capacity of 15,000 substrates. LG Display has invested $900 million to build its E5 fab, which is slated for production in 1H’17 with an initial monthly input capacity of 7,500 substrates or about 1.5 million 5.5-inch flexible OLED displays.

If Google and LG Display sign a strategic investment agreement flexible OLED displays earmarked for Google will probably be manufactured at LG Display’s E5 fab. Google’s investment would be coming at an important time for LG Display as the company builds its flexible OLED capacity for smartphones and other small/medium applications.

LG Display has been the main supplier of displays to Apple for many years. Apple’s iPhones, iPads, iMacs, MacBooks, etc. are mostly supplied by LG Display due to the company’s well received and superior IPS LCD technology. But if Apple switches to OLED displays for the company’s iPhones it will be a major blow to LG Display. Samsung has been honing its smartphone OLED display technology for many years and it will likely be an uphill battle for LG Display to catch up. Although Apple might use LG Display as a second or third supplier of flexible OLED displays in the future, the probability that it will be sooner than later seems low. LG Display needs Google as much as Google needs LG Display.

Google is expected to announce a new Pixel smartphone this fall and to secure a reliable supply of flexible OLED displays via a strategic relationship with LG Display makes a lot of sense.

Sony A1

Sony A1 / A1E OLED TV

The Sony A1 series — the series name for the US versions is A1E — is a 4K Ultra HD (UHD) OLED Smart Android TV with High Dynamic Range (HDR).

Minimal, is the perfect word to describe Sony’s A1: an OLED display panel, protected by a cover glass, encased in a metal frame. Sony’s Acoustic Surface generates sound by vibrating the screen, in lieu of traditional speakers. A stand props up the beautiful display.

Initial reports seem to suggest the Sony A1 is easily the brightest OLED on the market, and indicate LG Display as the OLED panel supplier.

Technical Specifications:

  • Display: 55, 65, 77 UHD OLED
  • HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
  • Visual Engine: X1 Extreme
  • OS: Android TV

Android. I think it would have been better to leave out an operating system. The SoC, RAM, storage, etc. will all be in need of upgrading in the next two to three years. I would not want to be forced to upgrade my TV in a couple of years just because the computer parts are getting old. Leave the OS stuff to external boxes; they are cheap and better ones come out frequently.

The OLED TV market is getting some competition and that should make OLED TVs better, more affordable, and soon.

Sources: Trusted Reviews, c|net