May 11, 2017

All-screen is the next great frontier of smartphone design


Screen supply chains are the main battlefield
The innovation of smartphones has slowed down a bit in recent years, under this situation, smartphone manufacturers tend to look for new innovation opportunities on the core components and applications, mainly the screen, chipset, crafting and the materials. The dual-lens camera has become more popular since last year, and in this year, a fierce competition on frameless phones is coming on its way. The frameless screen started to gain public attention after the release of Xiaomi Mix. Followed by Samsung S8 and UMIDIGI Crystal, the frameless screen feature is inevitably becoming the next trend of smartphone design. Without further explanation, major smartphone manufacturers are already making or producing their own frameless smartphones.

All-screen is the next great frontier
Recently, “all-screen” has seemingly become the most trendy topic in the smartphone industry. After the release of Xiaomi Mix, “all-screen technology is the direction of smartphone in the next 10 years, we will find a battle of all-screen competition in this year (2017)”, according to Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi. Indeed, we can already see it happening now after the release of frameless phones like Samsung S8 and UMIDIGI Crystal.

In most smartphones the screen ratio is 16:9, but for the fragmented Android ecosystem, a different screen ratio will, theoretically speaking, cause troubles for software adaptation. Obviously, manufacturers like Xiaomi, UMIDIGI, and Samsung have noticed this issue. What Xiaomi did is bluntly simple, they leave all the physical touch buttons to the bottom of the screen, therefore the software can still run with 16:9 ratio, so to avoid most of the suitability issues, but it’s a challenge to the visual experience as a whole. Samsung went the other way their hairtail screen. They chose to offer screen ratio display options by software, thus giving the users the right to choose when the display cannot fit into the 18.5:9 screen ratio.

In fact, companies such as Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, and UMIDIGI are planning their marketing layouts with all-screen smartphones as this feature is pushing smartphone to the ultra frameless.

Major smartphone manufacturers are starting to take on the all-screen market.
Why all of a sudden all the major smartphone manufacturers are starting to adopt all-screen design? On one hand, it is because smartphone manufacturers need to find a new niche market to compete with products from other manufacturers that are getting more alike in one way or another. If a smartphone wants to stand out in the market, the innovation of the screen would be a great option to go with. The advantage of all-screen is quite noticeable that it can downsize the overall phone body but not the screen. However, when the screen ratio is being enlarged by narrowing the frames, it also means the distance between the display area and the middle frame of the phone would be shortened.

On the other hand, the “all-screen” battle between smartphone manufacturers is also an act according to the new demand of the users. Surely all-screen will provide better viewing experience especially in large gaming, live video, and watch movies. Now when mobile games, live videos, and short videos are becoming more popular, the screen will be the most direct source of perception. But some mobile games may not fit into the new all-screen ratio and still run as 16:9 on an all-screen phone, therefore the display may be stretched. The software adaptation is an issue, but in the long run, it will urge the developers to make the next wave of change of all-screen displaying.

With the demand of videos on smartphone becomes ever increasing, the need for the bigger screen is also growing. But if the overall size of the phone gets bigger, the handling of the phone will also become more difficult, especially for single-handed operation. In this case, a high screen ratio phone will be the problem solver.

All-screen is essentially is a head-on battle on supply chains.
Although the battle cry is on, but many smartphone manufacturers are facing great challenges ahead on the supply chains. Since the latter half of 2016, smartphone related resources such as RAM, LCD, and optical sensors, have been in shortage, thus making the price goes up. The all-screen battle is essentially a fierce competition on the supply chains. Samsung has taken up 95% of the market in the Super AMOLED screen supply. If Samsung runs out of AMOLED screens, other smartphone manufacturers will most likely to face foreclosure. It may take some more time for all-screen phones to be applied in large-scale, but it certainly will become the next frontier smartphone technology before long. 

 
 

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