Chinese panel manufacturers shipped more than one million AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) smartphone displays for the first time in the third quarter of 2016. While the Chinese makers only make up less than 2 percent of the AMOLED smartphone panel market in terms of shipments, hitting the one million unit mark in a quarter shows significant improvements in their manufacturing technology, according to IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO).
According to the IHS Markit Smartphone Display Market Tracker, total shipments of AMOLED displays for smartphones set a new record of 101 million units in third quarter 2016. While Samsung Display continues to retain its dominant position with 99.7 million units, three Chinese panel makers — EverDisplay Optronics (EDO), Tianma Micro-electronics and Govisionox Optoelectronics — shipped 1.4 million units for the quarter, representing a sharp increase from the approximate 590,000 units in the previous quarter.
“Strong demand from Chinese smartphone brands, especially OPPO and Vivo, helped boosting overall AMOLED panel demand significantly,” said Terry Yu, principal analyst of small and medium displays for IHS Markit. “Many Chinese smartphone makers, such as Meizu, Gionee, Lenovo, Huawei and even Xiaomi, are planning to adopt AMOLED panels in their devices. This gives Chinese display suppliers a great opportunity to gain more orders, improve their mass production yield rate and enhance their product reliability.”
According to IHS Markit, AMOLED display penetration among Chinese smartphone brands is expected to increase from 8 percent in 2015 to 13.6 percent in 2016. However, due to the tight supply of AMOLED panels from Samsung Display, many domestic smartphone brands are turning to local Chinese panel makers. For example, after Xiaomi and Huawei failed to secure their orders of AMOLED panels from Samsung, they struck partnerships with EDO, the leading AMOLED panel suppliers in China, with the promise of mass production and product reliability. EDO, which started operating its Shanghai-based Gen 4.5 AMOLED fab in 2014, shipped one million units of AMOLED panels in the third quarter of 2016, up from 0.2 million units in the first quarter. Similarly, Tianma and Govisionox have also developed business relationships with ZTE as its secondary supplier of AMOLED smartphone displays.
“Chinese panel makers are still too small to threaten Samsung’s dominant position, but they still play an important role as a second or third source for major smartphone brands in China,” Yu said. “Furthermore, as Samsung Display shifts its focus to the flexible OLED, Chinese panel makers are expected to expand their shares in the rigid OLED panel market.”