Types of OLED

Numerous types of OLED displays are available to buy from manufacturers and suppliers in the UK and worldwide, and many OLED panel products can readily be fitted with a range of accessories such as touch screen sensors and display bezels, or adapted for use in specific roles and positions via various display interface kits.

As we’ve already outlined in the paragraphs above, an OLED screen is made up of an array of individual OLEDs that can be individually turned on and off in a fast, highly coordinated way to present an image. This is known as ‘driving’ the image, and there are various methods of driving an OLED display, all of which represent slight tweaks and amendments to the basic OLED technology.

AMOLED displays

If you’ve heard of any of the ‘subtypes’ of OLED display, the chances are AMOLED will be the most immediately recognisable one. (Nearly all OLED screens today, particularly on smartphones and other high-end handheld devices, will, in fact, be AMOLED versions, as the slightly more advanced driver technology has somewhat taken over in this sector.)

This acronym stands for Active-Matrix OLED (as opposed to the cheaper, more basic and lower resolution Passive-Matrix, or PMOLED, versions). In short, AMOLED displays refer to an OLED screen that uses a microscopically thin film transistor backplane to switch each pixel between on and off states.

You could go into considerable depth explaining precisely what the technical definition of AMOLED actually involves on a complex chemical and physical level - but that’s probably best saved for another guide! Suffice to say here that OLED screens, in general, rely on the simultaneous switching of individual organic compounds in the diodes to create near-instant shifts across different elements of the displayed image.

In an AMOLED panel, this challenge is handled by a transistor and a storage capacitor contained in each individual pixel of the display. The bottom line in terms of overall performance? You can typically expect better energy efficiency from a thinner, lighter and more flexible panel while maintaining an exceptionally high image quality when correctly calibrated.

Downsides of AMOLED include shortened lifespan (particularly for certain colour-specific molecules - blue elements are a particular issue), more noticeable difficulty generating a clear image under direct light, and increased vulnerability to moisture ingress and humidity.

POLED displays

Short for polymer or polymeric OLED, POLED (sometimes written as PLED) panels are OLED screens that feature a plastic substrate as one of the layers. This is a newer development over the more traditional glass substrate versions that most earlier OLED panels were manufactured with - but, other than this literal material difference, they’re essentially another version of AMOLED, and deliver many of the same pros and cons.

PLED display today cater to a growing market sector demanding startling reworkings or traditional form factors, especially those focused around increasingly flexible screens. These are used both for commercial showpiece applications, such as highly curved displays on a very large scale and also for pushing cutting-edge prototypes such as foldable tablets and roll-up high definition displays.