18:9 aspect ratios expected to reach 611 million units by 2021
The trend in equipping newer smartphone designs with wider screens is giving rise to the 18:9 aspect ratio, with the display shipments expected to reach 611 million units by 2021, according to the latest analysis by IHS Markit.
The Samsung Electronics Galaxy S8 smartphone released earlier this year not only brought with it a new trend in smartphone displays using the 18:9 aspect ratio, but it also opened up the market to the wider 18.5:9 aspect ratio for its future crop of smartphone screen designs. As such, these newer wide screen displays are presenting smartphone users with larger screen images without changing the look and feel of the previous generation of Galaxy smartphones.
The smartphone display industry has always anticipated the production roadmap for wider aspect screens would advance in parallel with performances in smartphone handsets and wireless communication speeds. Over the years, the industry saw screen displays for phones increasing their aspect ratios from 4:3 (QVGA, VGA), to 5:3 (WVGA) and more recently, to the more dominant 16:9 aspect ratio (720HD, FHD, WQHD), which accounted for 90% of smartphone display shipments in 2016.
The increase to 16:9 aspect ratio screens came with higher definition screen resolutions that utilised both low temperature polysilicon thin-film transistor (LTPS TFT) LCD display and active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) display technologies. Both display types provided smartphone manufacturers the ability to produce bezel-less designs in their products, which maximised the display area to within the size limits of the handset casing frame. The bezel-less design used with AMOLED displays has also further extended the Galaxy S8 with a wider aspect of 18.5:9 that now sits in the premium smartphone space.
Following the launch of the Galaxy S8, display makers are now set to introduce even wider screen displays with an aspect ratio of 18:5 with various picture quality, such as 720HD+ (1,440 x 720 pixels), FHD+ (2,160 x 1,080 pixels) and WQHD+ (2,880 x 1,440 pixels), which are expected to appear in variety of smartphone models released later in 2017 and 2018. The strengthening trend of smartphone handset designs to incorporate the 18:9 wide screen display will see demand forecast to grow from 170 million units in 2017 to 611 million by 2021, according to the latest Smartphone Display Market Intelligent Service report by IHS Markit.
“IHS Markit expects to see the 18:5 wide screens become the prevailing aspect ratio of choice in the premium smartphone segment going into the rest of 2017. However, smartphone brands will likely introduce customized designs that incorporate other aspect ratios, including 18:9, 18.5:9, and 19:9, depending on their design concepts and feature requirements,” said Hiroshi Hayase, senior director of small-medium display at IHS Markit. “In the meantime, the legacy 16:9 aspect ratio can be expected to remain in demand for entry-class to mid-tier smartphones, and will remain the case even as they become more commoditised thanks to lower production costs.”