A large panel display showcased inside the BOE Mianyang plant. (Photo: Global Times)
Leading Chinese semiconductor display panel producer BOE Technology has expressed optimism over the future of foldable flexible screens despite disappointing market developments in the year.
"This is year one for foldable phones. In 2021, we expect a burst of explosive growth in the market," said Chang Cheng, a vice president of BOE Technology Group.
The comments were made during a plant visit in Mianyang, Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Thursday. The company just announced that its Mianyang plant, which produces active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) displays, achieved mass production in mid-July.
The AMOLED is thinner than thin-film transistor liquid crystal displays (LCD) and has better display capacity. The two traits offer cellphone makers more possibilities in product development. On smartphones, the display makes curved, bending and even foldable models available.
The Mianyang plant has a designed capacity of 48,000 glass substrates per month. Production now stands at 16,000 a month and the company is ratcheting up output.
South Korea mobile phonemaker Samsung postponed the launch of its Galaxy Fold foldable phone to September after encountering problems.
The Mate X, Chinese telecom giant Huawei's first foldable mobile phone and its second 5G handset, has received a network access license and is expected to be on sale by the end of this month, according to media reports.
"There will be new models using flexible AMOLEDs hitting the market in the latter half of this year, including models using the undercut technology for the face camera that does not hinder full screen display and foldable models," Cheng told reporters.
BOE ended a monopoly held by Samsung by beginning mass production of flexible AMOLEDs in October 2017 at its facility in Chengdu.
Li Yaqin, a deputy general manager at industry portal sigmaintell.com, said gadgets with foldable screens will only take off when there are apps tapping the special traits of the displays and improved technology that can further improve product performance.
However, flexible screens are facing a supply glut as panel makers pour resources into the production of the new technology, believed to be a future trend for digital displays.
The company also supplies some Apple products with its LCD products.