Sharp is getting ready to enter the OLED display era.
It all comes together now. The rumors of Apple adopting OLED display for the iPhone are matched now by Sharp showing off their latest achievement in OLED display technology. Sharp is now part of the Foxconn imperium, which is Apple's biggest manufacturing partner.
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Sharp has developed a 3.4-inch flexible OLED screen according to Japanese Nikkei. This small OLED display can be freely bent by a user, allowing to build new kind of smartphones that are bendable. Sharp's new OLED screen users the IGZO (indium-gallium-zinc oxide) energy-saving panel technology. The new Sharp OLED display prototype is still rather small and not usable for today's smartphones yet.
We have seen flexible OLED displays since years now. In 2012, Samsung showed off flexible OLED screens at the CES. So far the have been only used inside devices such as Samsung's Galaxy edge smartphones. They are only bent during manufacturing. Researchers have already shown off a truly flexible smartphone enabling a new user experience.
Nikkei also reports that Sharp will invest close to $2 billion into OLED display manufacturing over the next four years. Earlier this week, Digitimes reported that Sharp is building a 4.5G and two 6G AMOLED production lines with monthly capacity of 13,000, 11,500 and 34,500 glass substrates respectively, with total monthly capacity of 9.85 million 5.5-inch equivalent panels.
Apple is expected to adopt OLED at the earliest in 2017.