Smartphones Spur Shift in Demand for Small Display Panels

Across all applications and size categories, a-Si TFT LCD technology continues to lead growth in the flat panel display (FPD) industry.

smartphone displays and ihs

Global shipments of small and medium (9-inch or smaller) non-crystalline, thin-film silicon, thin- film transistor panels are forecast to decline 7 percent in 2015, to reach a total of 1.6 billion units, according to a report from IT research firm IHS.

Ongoing improvement in smartphone display performance is driving increased demand for high-resolution panels with lower power consumption requirements. These newer panels are not supported by the most common legacy technologies like thin-film silicon, also known as a-Si.

Combined unit shipments of newer low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and oxide thin-film transistor (TFT) LCD panels will grow 33 percent, to reach 676 million units, according to the report.

Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) panel production will increase 44 percent, to reach 260 million units. Across all applications and size categories, a-Si, TFT LCD technology continues to lead growth in the flat panel display (FPD) industry, according to the report.

"Smartphone displays are requiring higher resolution than that produced by LTPS TFT-LCD technology, while demand for the lower -resolution smartphone displays is decreasing," Hiroshi Hayase, senior director for displays at IHS Technology, told eWEEK. "Also, in the expanding smartphone market, many other technologies such as digital cameras, games, portable media players, et cetera, that apply to smartphone functions are shrinking the availability of these a-Si screens."

As smartphone panel prices continue to fall, display manufacturers are focused on finding ways to reduce production costs, in order to eke out profits, IHS found in an earlier report. For example, five-inch, full-high-definition (FHD) mobile phone panels experienced a drastic year-over-year unit-shipment decline of 34 percent last year, but manufacturing costs fell only 14 percent.

Hayase said smartphones also are increasing demand for functions with high quality display and higher speed wireless services, such as 4G LTE.

"High-speed wireless service will be available to carry high-grade data contents, and a high-resolution display is needed to increase higher loads for wireless services from 2G and GSM through 3G and WCDMA to 4G LTE and 5G networks of the future," he said. "Low power consumption displays are simply part of our demand for much longer battery life, without charging every day."

He noted the materials used to manufacture these displays are based on the requirements for lower power consumption.