Leading China-based smartphone vendors, including Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Xiaomi Technology, plan to adopt mini LED-backlit panels as an alternative to AMOLED for smartphones to be launched in second-half 2018 and have asked Taiwan-based makers to start producing mini LED backlighting in June 2018, according to industry sources.
The vendors speculate Apple may extend use of AMOLED panels to its iPhone devices to be launched in 2018, occupying more of Samsung Display's AMOLED production, the sources said. While Samsung Electronics is showcasing a 146-inch modular micro LED-backlit TV at CES 2018, commercial application of micro LED TV applications is quite unlikely to take off in 2018, the sources noted.
The sources noted the number of mini LED chips for 6-inch smartphone panels can decrease from 9,000 to 4,000 through technological improvement and product design, which will cut production cost and hike smartphone vendors' willingness to adopt mini LED backlighting.
According to Epistar, the largest Taiwan-based LED epitaxial wafer and chip maker poised for production of mini LED chips, if mini LED backlighting is used in 15 million smartphones in 2018 - equivalent to 1% penetration - global demand will reach 60 billion mini LED chips in the year, equivalent to monthly use of 100,000 mini LED epitaxial wafers.
As a TV needs about 10,000 mini LED chips for backlighting, if mini LED penetrates 4% of TVs in 2018, global demand will reach 100 billion mini LED chips in the year, Epistar said.
Production of mini LED backlighting for smartphones and TVs is likely to begin in second-half 2018, with specifications to be decided in the first half, Epistar noted, adding mini LED backlighting for high-end gaming monitors and ultra-fine pixel pitch LED displays also stand a chance of commencing production in second-half 2018.
Existing LED equipment can be adjusted to produce mini LED chips, Taiwan-based supply chain makers noted.
Innolux is exhibiting a 10.1-inch mini LED automotive display at CES 2018.