Beginning in the second quarter of this year, display panel makers significantly reduced prices for high-definition (HD, 720 x 1280) and full-high-definition (FHD, 1080 x 1920) in-cell and on-cell modules.
According to the latest report of analyst firm IHS, due in large part to robust consumer demand for Apple iPhone 6 models, adoption of HD and FHD smartphone displays is forecast to grow quickly.
With the rise of developing markets, and rapid increases in low-priced smartphone models, the growth of wide video graphics array (WVGA, 480 x 800) and full wide video graphics array (FWVGA, 480 x 854) is expected to slow in 2015; however, these types of displays will still comprise nearly a third (30 percent) of the smartphone market.
Wide quad high definition (WQHD, 1440 x 2560) displays will account for 9 percent of the smartphone market in the coming year.
?Brands are finding it hard to differentiate their smartphone product lineup solely by increasing display resolution; however, that does not mean the trend toward higher resolutions is going to end,? said Tina Teng, smartphones senior analyst for DisplaySearch at IHS.
While WVGA and FWVGA panel shipment growth is declining, they still constitute a significant share of the smartphone market. The mix of displays with resolutions lower than qHD (540 x 960) is expected to decline from 47 percent in 2014 to 34 percent next year; however, shipment volume is still significant.
Although brands and manufacturers would like to adopt higher resolution displays, the rapid growth in low-priced smartphones ? along with power consumption and cost considerations ? mean that WVGA and FWVGA remain the dominant resolutions for smartphones selling for less than $80.
In 2015, LTE smartphones are expected in China, while other emerging markets are launching low-end 3G smartphones selling for less than $60. The introduction of these low-priced smartphones will cause increases in shipments of WVGA, FWVGA, and qHD smartphone displays, which are forecast to penetrate 33 percent of the smartphone market in 2015.
In the past, when Apple launched new iPhone models, other brands would launch high-end products with the highest display specification available; however, because of the market growth of mid-range and low-end devices, when the iPhone 6 models were introduced this year, only a handful of competitive models using WQHD were introduced in the second half of the year, including Samsung?s Note 4, Note Edge, Motorola?s Nexus 6 and LG G3-LTE Dual.
The share of smartphones with HD screens is forecast to grow from 28 percent in 2014 to 33 percent in 2015, while the share of FHD-and-higher smartphone screen resolutions will reach 34 percent next year.
Interviews with mobile operators, brands, device manufacturers and key component providers, which were conducted by DisplaySearch, reveal that 4G smartphones priced between $100 and $150 are highly likely to adopt HD resolution, and both 5-inch and 5.5-inch amorphous silicon (a-Si) panels will have the cost advantage.
DisplaySearch forecasts that growth in FHD and WQHD displays will accelerate in the second half of 2015. Due to component price declines, and maturing display technologies, brands and device manufacturers are more willing to adopt higher resolution displays.
In fact, ultra high definition (UHD, 2160 x 3840) resolution smartphones are expected to enter the global market, as early as next year. Display component suppliers, including driver integrated circuit (IC) manufacturers, have started to develop products to support the development of 6-inch UHD displays. Meanwhile, Qualcomm?s Snapdragon 805 can already support 4K primary display and 4K video codecs.
?While 4K UHD will not immediately become a mainstream display resolution, and there are many production challenges, we expect to see the first 4K UHD smartphones entering the market in 2015,? according to Shawn Lee, research director for DisplaySearch at IHS.