Report: Shipments of 18:9 Displays to Reach 230 Million Units in 2017
Smartphone displays have most commonly featured the 16:9 aspect ratio after the advent of HD (1280×720) displays in 2011. The 16:9 aspect ratio remained the standard until Xiaomi launched the Mi Mix in 2016, a near bezel-less smartphone with a 6.4-inch 17:9 aspect ratio display. Then, in 2017, the 18:9 aspect ratio became more and more popular as multiple smartphone vendors launched devices with 18:9 aspect ratio displays, with resolutions ranging from HD+ to WQHD+.
At the beginning of the year, it seemed as if 18:9 displays would be restricted to flagship smartphones. Manufacturers such as Samsung and LG were the first to adopt the taller “full-screen” aspect ratio in conjunction with smaller display bezels.
However, as the year progressed, we saw the release of multiple mid-range and affordable flagship smartphones with 18:9 displays, such as the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, the Essential Phone, the OnePlus 5T, and more. 18:9 displays are now found on even budget smartphones such as Xiaomi’s Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus in China, and the Honor 7X, which was recently released in international markets.
Now, a report by Digitimes quotes a report by market research firm Sigmaintell as stating that global shipments of 18:9 displays are expected to reach 230 million in 2017. Samsung Display is said to account for a 60% share of the segment.
The most interesting note from the research firm is that nearly 200 million units of the total 18:9 display shipments in 2017 were made available in the second half of the year. This matches the timeline of 2017 smartphone releases, as the popularity of 18:9 panels is certainly increasing quickly.
The research firm’s report goes on to state that Samsung Display’s shipments of 18:9 displays are expected to reach 137 million units in 2017, which is due to orders mainly from Samsung Electronics and Apple. (Samsung Display is said to have supplied about 50 million OLED panels to Apple for the iPhone X.) It’s also worth noting that Samsung Electronics uses AMOLED displays for its flagship smartphones such as the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy Note 8.
On the other hand, China-based Tianma Micro-electronics is said to rank second in 18:9 display shipments with 24 million units shipped for 10% market share. It will be followed by AU Optronics (AUO) with 17 million units and BOE Technology with 12 million units. Unfortunately, the report didn’t distinguish between shipments of 18:9 LCDs and OLED displays, so it’s difficult to judge the relative popularity of 18:9 LCDs versus OLED displays in 2017.
The report added that shipments of larger-size 18:9 panels, such as the 5.7-inch HD+ (1440×720) and 6-inch Full HD+ (2160×1080) displays, have been “gaining momentum.” For example, Xiaomi’s budget Redmi 5 uses a 5.7-inch HD+ IPS display, while the Mi Mix 2 uses a 6-inch Full HD+ display.
Finally, the report stated that the penetration rate of “all-screen” 18:9 smartphones in total global smartphone shipments is expected to climb up to 40% in 2018, according to industry estimates. Considering how popular some 18:9 smartphones have been this year, the report’s expectations aren’t far-fetched. This is because 18:9 displays allow taller displays while still keeping the width of the display constant. Paired with smaller bezels, the 18:9 aspect ratio is a win-win as it allows a bigger display in the same device size.