BOE Technology Group, a Chinese giant that has a large part of the worldwide LCD market and has also been manufacturing OLED displays on a large scale for years now, has jumped on the foldable OLED bandwagon. As seen in the recently emerged video below, the display in question can be folded and unfolded to make a phone or a tablet, with no visible border between the two non-hinged segments of screen. The prototype device, shown running Android, has some seriously thick bezels, but BOE isn’t planning on making its own devices; it wants to try to sell these panels to Apple. BOE is hoping to court Cupertino and put pressure on Samsung, the American company’s current largest display supplier.
Background: BOE is a state-owned company with the backing of Beijing city officials, and it has one of the largest OLED factories out there. BOE has never made a big deal of publicity, so many readers may not have heard of the company before this reveal. It bought up Hynix-owned Hydis Technologies’ OLED operations in 2001 and has been quietly working on its OLED product lineup since then. Today’s grand reveal is a bit of a twist for the company, which has never made a habit of trying to disrupt spaces and dethrone large outfits in the past.
Background: The panel being shown off by BOE is nothing to sneeze at. It can cover up to 118 percent of the NTSC color gamut, making it one of the more versatile displays out there of any sort. Paired with a good backlight and barring any possible quality control issues, an OLED panel like this wouldn’t be entirely out of place in any flagship device. A demo unit shown off by BOE had a 1440p resolution, common on high-end smartphones and tablets. As for its flexibility, it was tested to be able to bend all the way to a 1-degree angle, making it agile enough to wrap around almost any hinge setup. Finally, testing showed it being able to bend all the way and then go back to straight up to 100,000 times without any ill effects. Given that the average person reportedly checks their phone about 80 times per day, this means that if they unfold the device every single time they pull it out, it would take some 34 years of daily use for the screen to show any noticeable signs of degradation.
Impact: Essentially, with the announcement of this panel, BOE has thrown down the gauntlet. It’s joining an increasingly crowded arena by announcing a foldable OLED display, but the company’s Apple ambitions are taking aim directly at Samsung. The Korean monolith is almost surely not going to take this sitting down, so industry watchers are in for an interesting battle in the nascent folding OLED space. While Samsung has an insane amount of money and resources at its disposal, BOE is well-positioned to take this fight in stride, with a massive factory in the heart of Beijing, and the backing of the city and the Chinese government to expand its operations and keep pace with competitors.