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Mobile AMOLED displays just got cheaper than LCD

amoled cheaper lcd lcdvsamoled
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Flagship phones have been adopting AMOLED panels in favor of LCD for a while now. Top phone manufacturers are opting for the improved battery hours and flexibility in features such as Samsung’s Always-On Display, which shows battery life and date around the clock without too much of an impact on battery life. The display technology is used in most modern phones, laptops, smartwatches, and televisions. Increased demand means lower prices, and it appears we might have reached a breaking point in the battle between AMOLED and LCD displays. A recent report by IHS Technology says that production costs for LTPS LCD and AMOLED displays for 5-inch full HD devices reached $14.60 and $14.30 respectively during the first quarter. This is the first time AMOLED has been cheaper than LCD.

Samsung Electronics has been a driving force in this development as they dominate the Android market. Aside from last year’s smartwatch, Apple hasn’t been as enthusiastic in its adoption of the technology. Its biggest Android rival on the other hand, developed its very own Super AMOLED and has been supplying other gadget manufacturers with the display panels.

IHS Technology says that prices for AMOLED went down starting December 2015 and has predicted a similar price trajectory for the next few months. Once the technology has been adopted widely enough, you could start seeing the displays in lower budget phones. But we wouldn’t bet any money on lower prices for flagship devices, as the displays aren’t what keep those prices up in the first place.

LCD pixels vs. AMOLED pixels
LCD pixels vs. AMOLED pixels Image used with permission by copyright holder

The report says that prices are likely to keep going down as Samsung is ramping up the game with new production facilities. If Samsung manages to keep up the demand for AMOLED displays, which seems likely if the price keeps going down, then the numbers keep falling. Consider it a positive loop.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that AMOLED will keep its position forever. If Apple decides to keep going for LCD displays, it will likely also limit how far down the AMOLED display prices reach.

Dan Isacsson
Being a gamer since the age of three, Dan took an interest in mobile gaming back in 2009. Since then he's been digging ever…
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