Smartphone users are nothing if not a group that has some strongly-held preferences. Manufacturers, operating systems, carriers, screen sizes: it feels like everyone’s got a preference about something, and we’ve seen some heated debated emerge between users with opposing views. That extends to the tech that makes up the displays on our phones, and while there are lots of different ways these panels can be fabricated, they largely fall into two camps: LCD and OLED. Are you a fan of LCD panels and their ubiquitous nature, or do you love the deep blacks and more-vibrant-than-real-life color saturation of OLEDs? In the past, LCDs had one undeniable advantage over OLEDs in that they were markedly cheaper to produce. But now it looks like that’s all changing, as for the first time OLEDs are becoming more affordable than LCDs.
So says market research firm IHS Technology, reporting that Q1 2016 production costs for five-inch 1080p panels are on average about $14.60 for low-temperature polycrystalline silicon LCD screens, and about $14.30 for active-matrix OLED displays.
Both types are now quite a bit less expensive to produce than they were just last year ($15.70 for LCDs and $17.10 for OLEDs), but OLED production has just become more affordable, more quickly.
While this is no guarantee that we’re about to see OLED use in phones overtake LCD screens, it’s hard to ignore the economics of manufacturing, especially when you’re making phones on a grand scale – those few cents here and there really add up when units number in the millions.