IHS: Samsung Galaxy S III Display Beats Apple iPhone 5

In the {complink 379|Apple Inc.}-{complink 4750|Samsung Corp.}patent war, Samsung is seeking vindication from the courts, and may still get it. For the moment, a ban on Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet sales in the US has been lifted.

In the product war, Samsung has received a different kind of vindication. A teardown analysis by IHS iSuppli has determined the Samsung Galaxy S III display is superior to the iPhone 5’s.

IHS is quick to point out that this is unlikely to make any difference to consumers that are already set on the iPhone 5. However, in the grand scheme of things, this type of review will strengthen Samsung’s position in the display market and give it additional clout as one of Apple Inc.’s leading display suppliers.

Since a US jury in August found that Samsung infringed on Apple’s patents, Apple has scaled back its purchases of Samsung chips. Although Samsung is the leading supplier of memory chips in the world, memory is no longer a differentiator in the high-tech world, and suppliers can easily be replaced. This is also becoming the case in LCD panels — there are many suppliers and prices are going down. (See: Apple-Samsung: How Far Is Too Far?) However, IHS gives Samsung the edge in next-generation OLED displays, which is where Samsung can squeeze Apple, if Samsung has the nerve to play that game.

Here’s what IHS says about the S III display:

    The addition of in-cell touch technology has improved the display of the iPhone 5, but it still lags the Galaxy S III smartphone from chief rival Samsung when it comes to screen thinness and color gamut…

    The Galaxy III employs an active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) display, in contrast to the low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) LCD) employed in the iPhone 5.

    As AMOLEDs don’t use a backlight unit, they potentially have better power efficiency than LCDs. However, there are concerns about differential aging of organic materials, which affects OLED lifetime and power efficiency. And although display power consumption is important, overall battery life of the device will still be dependent on many other factors.

Displays are becoming an increasingly important component in electronics — touchscreens are the on/off switch, keyboard and mouse for many consumer products. (See: The Big Picture: Is the LCD Becoming the New Motherboard?) They are also the single biggest hardware expense in many bills of material.

Superiority in displays may not give Samsung a leg up in smartphones, tablets, and other consumer products — but, more importantly, does it give Samsung leverage with Apple?

It depends. Apple’s displays are manufactured by several suppliers, including Samsung, LG Display, and Sharp. Apple has recently expanded its relationship with LG Display and is sourcing more products from the Korean display company. (See: What LG Display Is Doing Right.) Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn has taken a 10 percent stake in Sharp, a Japanese manufacturer of displays. On the capacity front, LG and Sharp could eventually fill any supply gap left by Samsung — if Samsung and Apple’s relationship become even more strained.

On the technology front, Samsung is the leader in OLED, which has the potential to revolutionize the display market. OLED has a number of advantages over LCD, including thinness, flexibility, and battery life. Samsung may be able to capitalize in OLED without worrying about what Apple does — at least in terms of displays. The companies are still battling in the courts and in the market, where any victory likely is temporary.

7 comments on “IHS: Samsung Galaxy S III Display Beats Apple iPhone 5

  1. _hm
    October 2, 2012

    Yes, Samsung has edge in display technology. Apple need to invest money and create relationship with others like Sharp and LG to break this bottleneck.

  2. mfbertozzi
    October 3, 2012

    @_hm: I am wondering how long will Apple take for recover the situation; it seems that in the past, by involving for example their manufactures in China, final results were not so good. At the end, dispaly is a key component for the smartphone.

  3. Barbara Jorgensen
    October 3, 2012

    So much depends on the Apple/Samsung relationship. If it completely falls apart,  Apple may lag in OLED. However, LG is working on some new technologies and Sharp is now aligned with Foxconn. I'm not sure how much new investment will go to Sharp or other potential partners but that's what it might take for OLED. Apple could also completely bypass OLED and invent something else, such as a 3D holographic display 🙂

  4. _hm
    October 3, 2012

    @mfbertozzi: This is difficult puzzle for Apple. They may look some innovative organization and manufacturing giant. Sharp, Japan may be their hope.


  5. mfbertozzi
    October 4, 2012

    @_hm: exactly, they have won the battle for the patents (for now…), but issues in manufacturing are already present. Maybe a different perspective could be trying to channel a bit ' of energy spent for the battle, toward the production.

  6. HM
    October 5, 2012

    This war between Apple and Samsung is going on and on. I wonder how much stress their executives would go in as its almost the same product and creating a difference is so very important to be the leader in the race.

  7. Wale Bakare
    October 9, 2012

    I am a bit sceptical about that. Apple would not do it, i think. One thing people should watch out in next few years  – Samsung may take the center stage of smartphone markets.

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