Traditional display technologies like OLED and LED have dominated the display market. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) have widely used these technologies and a significant portion of TVs and smartphones sport these designs. However, there are new, next-generation displays that have stormed the market and have tempted the audience for an upgrade with their breath-taking and realistic picture quality. The latest display technologies such as mini-LEDs and micro-LEDs are now being used in the upcoming product lineups of many companies.
Micro-LED: stealing OLED’s limelight
Although OLED TVs have been the premium offering from TV manufacturers throughout the globe for quite some time now, the TV market is ready for new innovations in the field of display technology. A few years ago, OLED displays were mostly alien to consumers and while things went on a high roll after production became stable and prices came in range, there’s a lot where OLED display falls short of Micro-LED displays.
OLED displays offer the blackest of blacks and the whitest of whites but the lifespan of the individual color film of OLED display is short. Red and Green OLED films have a satisfactory lifespan ranging in between 46,000 to 230,000 hours. The blue organic emitter remains an area of challenge as it falls well under 14,000 hours. This leads to colour inaccuracy as the device gets old with the blues fading away.
A single pixel in a Micro-LED display consists of an array of microscopic LEDs embedded to form the main display panel. Similar to OLED displays, Micro-LED TVs require no backlighting as they emit their own light. The inorganic nature of the micro-LED display’s assembly makes it more stable than OLED displays as red, green, and blue micro-LED pixels do not have luminance decay issues. Also, the near-perfect angle for viewing provided by micro-LEDs results in these displays offering features that are the same as OLED displays but with brighter picture quality and response time. In short, Micro-LED combines the best features of OLED and backlit LED.
While OLED displays became mainstream with prices going down due to a stable chain of manufacturing, Micro-LED displays will be the next big thing. All the biggies from the consumer electronics ecosystem have plans for Micro-LED displays with Samsung and LG already launching the first generation of their Micro-LED TVs. Sony was the first to jump on the Micro-LED bandwagon when it launched its first-generation Micro-LED display in 2013. The prototype sported 6.22 million LED chips in a single display. Apple also showed interest in the technology when it acquired Micro-LED developer LuxVue. Apple has a design for a foldable iPhone with a Micro-LED screen under its belt as well.
Mini-LED backlit display to challenge OLED’s and LCD’s market share
Currently, most mid-range and budget smartphones feature a LCD display because of their cheap cost. Premium smartphones from Samsung and Apple boast of an OLED display. But all of it is soon going to change as Mini-LED backlighting is going mainstream.
Mini-LEDs are at the pixel level and they are tinier than quantum dots. Manufacturers are integrating this technology into existing QLED displays to get better control of the backlight. The improvement in backlight due to Mini-LEDs results in sharper image quality, almost comparable to OLED displays.
Due to the global pandemic, the average shopper isn’t willing to spend too much on premium devices. Major consumer durables brand Panasonic released a statement during the coronavirus lockdown claiming that demand fell by “6%-7% percent which is quite unprecedented”. Products featuring Mini-LED backlighting in a bid to reduce costs are already making their way to the market with OEMs gearing to expand their portfolio in the mid-range category.
Reports from Apple’s iPad and Mac division confirmed that the Cupertino-based tech giant will launch iPads and Mac with integrated mini-LED displays from 2021. The next iPad Pro can Potentially be the first Mini-LED integrated Apple product.
Samsung has also predicted a huge market for Mini-LED displays. Reportedly, the South Korean giant is aiming at the mid-range TV category with two-million Mini-LED TVs to sell next year. The lineup will feature 4K resolution and consist of TVs in 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, and 85-inch sizes. Chinese smartphone brands like Xiaomi and Realme are also planning to set a benchmark for smart TVs with their new line up Mini-LED backlight smart TVs.
Years to go, still?
Development efforts from OEMs have started to grab eyeballs and it has moved on from the “technology development” stage to the “economies of scale/cost” stage. Micro-LED TVs will become the premium offering from OEMs in the coming year as we see brands scale their adoption of the technology.
Samsung will be looking forward to challenging Xiaomi in the Smart TV category after the major-appliance giant lost its crown to the Chinese smartphone brand. Xiaomi has already launched its Mini-LED TVs for the Chinese market and the brand is receiving a great response around the product.
Mini-LEDs are more cost-effective than OLEDs and have comparable picture quality. Major brands will be fighting with their most innovative offerings in the coming days to lure customers with the new technology.