In February during the Goldman Sachs Conference, Tim Cook described OLED displays as awful. "If you buy things online, you should think twice before you depend on the color of the OLED display. The Retina display is twice as bright as an OLED display." Cook added that "Some people use OLED displays, but the color saturation is awful." While Apple may consider flexible OLED displays for wearable computers in the future, they're to remain steadfast in advancing Retina class displays for their popular iDevices. For years Samsung's rabid fans have fought bitterly in online forums and blogs that OLED was vastly superior to Apple's Retina. Well, Samsung fans may have to eat their words next year because Samsung is seriously considering a switch in the second half of 2014 to Retina class LCDs for their premium smartphones and tablets.
A new Korean report published today makes it clear that Samsung Electronics will start applying PLS (plane to line switching) LCDs to its smartphones.
Over the years, Samsung Electronics procured small-size LCDs from overseas companies in Japan and China. However, from next year, Samsung Electronics plans to diversify suppliers including Samsung Display. It also draws attention whether or not Samsung Electronics will break from active-matrix (AM) organic light emitting diode (OLED) by applying retina level LCDs to its premium level smartphones.
According to industry sources, Samsung Electronics' Wireless Business Division will apply approx. 20 million PLS LCDs to its smartphones next year. The scale of application is expected to be 10% of all smartphones installed with LCDs which strongly suggests that they're being reserved for premium products to better compete with Apple's products at the higher end of the market.
Samsung Electronics has basically been using AM OLED and on-cell touch screen panels (TSP) for its premium models, such as Galaxy S and Galaxy Note. By replacing them with retina level LCD and film type (GFF) TSPs, Samsung Electronics will be able to reduce the display cost by approx. 20%.
An industry insider close to the matter stated that "If Samsung Electronics starts using PLS LCDs on their premium smartphones, Samsung Display will not be able to avoid the effects of cannibalization in the AM OLED business. The decision to be made by the new President Park Dong-geon is crucial.
The report goes on to state that Samsung Display commenced an operation to increase efficiency of its L6 line in Cheonan with a goal to produce PLS LCDs for Samsung Electronics' smartphones. The L6 line has mainly been producing LCDs for 7 – 10" tablet PCs. So, it will need to undergo a partial remodeling in order to produce small-size LCDs as well.
In the end, the report acknowledged that while AM OLED may offer higher pixel counts – it has clear technological limitation to overcome LCD.