Article last updated on: Jan 17, 2019

OLED is an emerging display technology that uses thin films of organic materials to make efficient, thin and high quality displays. OLED panels can made flexible, rollable and transparent. Korea's LG is at the forefront of OLED development and production - as the world's only OLED TV producer and a leading developer of flexible OLED and OLED lighting panels. LG's subsidiary LG Display is responsible for OLED R&D and panel production, while LG Electronics produces and markets OLED TVs.

LG OLED TVs

LG's 2018 OLED TV lineup include the flagship Wallpaper OLEDW8 (which attaches to the wall using magnets), the OLED-on-glass OLEDE8, the basic OLEDC8 and the entry level OLEDB8. The only TV that is shipping now is the 55" OLEDC8 which is priced at $2,500 (note: this is an affiliated link to Amazon).

As of 2018, the only company that produces produces commercial OLED TV panels is LG Display, and LG Electronics is the leading OLED TV producer - although LGD also supplies OLED panels to other companies including including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others.

LG OLEDW8 photoLG 2018 OLEDW8

Reviews of OLED TVs are terrific, and most experts and consumers agree that these OLED TVs are the best TVs ever produced - with virtually perfect image quality and beautiful form factors. LG is also developing next-generation OLED TV technologies, and has recently demonstrated a 65" rollable TV.

While the basic OLED TV design uses RGB OLED sub-pixels to create each 'pixel' (what is referred to as direct emission OLED, the design used in mobile OLED displays used in Samsung's and Apple's smartphones, for example), LG Display opted for a different OLED TV design. The so-called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) architecture uses four white OLED subpixels with color filters on top (hence W+RBG). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) is much easier to produce and scale-up, even though it has some technical disadvantages - and it is the technology that enabled LG to be the first company to actually produce commercial OLED TV panels.



LG Flexible OLEDs for mobile devices

LG currently produces flexible OLEDs (branded as pOLEDs), for both wearable devices and smartphones. LG is the exclusive supplier of AMOLED displays for Apple's Watch smartwatch and it also supplies OLED displays for smartphones - such as the 6.4" 1440x3120 notch-type pOLED used in LG Electronics's V40 ThinQ, introduced in October 2018 and the 6" QHD+ display used by Sony in its Xperia XZ3 flagship. Click here for more information on LG's pOLED displays and its production capabilities.

LG V40 ThinQ photo

LG Transparent OLEDs

LG are also working on transparent OLEDs. In 2014 LGD unveiled a 18" transparent OLED prototype, and later in 2016 LGD demonstrated transparent 55" FHD AMOLED display prototypes. These panels are not yet in production, but hopefully LG will start producing these eventually.

LG OLED Light

LG Display is developing and producing OLED lighting panels, and the company is one of the leaders in OLED lighting. The company produces several panels, including flexible OLED panels and high efficiency panels. In December 2017 LG started mass production at its new 5-Gen OLED lighting fab in Gumi, Korea.

LG Chem truly flexible OLED lighting panel photo

The 5-Gen line has an initial capacity of 15,000 substrates per month - about 30 times the capacity of LG's previous 2-Gen line that had a monthly capacity of 4,000 substrates. LG hopes that the new line will enable it to produces OLED lighting panels at a much lower cost (initial estimates suggested a 95% cost reduction!) which it hopes will trigger the widespread adoption of OLED lighting globally.

Further reading

Latest LG OLED news

LGD's Guangzhou OLED TV fab suffers from low yield, mass production not achieved yet

On August 30 LG Display announced today that it started producing OLED TV panels at its 8.5-Gen OLED fab in Guangzhou, China. LGD hoped that mass production will begin shortly, but according to a new report from Korea the new fab's yields are low (50-60%) and actual mass production has not started yet.

LG Display 8.5-gen OLED TV fab in Guangzhou, China

LGD's new fab has a monthly capacity of 60,000 substrates, which will be expanded to 90,000 by 2021. The company has now lowered its OLED TV forecasts for 2019 as it did not meet its goal of starting shipping commercial panels in October.

OLED Handbook

Dell starts shipping the 55" Alienware OLED gaming monitor

In August 2019 Dell's Alienware announced a flagship 55" gaming monitor based on LG Display's 120Hz 55-inch 4K (3840x2160) WRGB AMOLED display. These high-end gaming monitors are now shipping for $3,899.

Alienware 55 photo

The Alienware 55 has a maximum brightness of 400 nits and a 0.5 ms gray to gray response time. The monitor support AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate and it has an anti-reflective coating with 2H hardness.

DSCC: OLED panel revenues to reach $46.2 billion in 2023, lowers its OLED TV forecasts

DSCC says that OLED panel unit shipments will reach 1.06 billion by 2023. The growth will peak in 2020 (with a 27% unit growth and 25% revenue growth from 2019). Overall revenues for OLED panels will grow from $26.5 billion in 2018 to $46.2 billion in 2023.

OLED display area production by application (2017-2023, DSCC)

DSCC says that it lowered its OLED TV forecast for 2020-2023, as LGD is delaying both its Guangzhou 8.5-Gen fab ramp up and its P10 10.5-Gen line by one year. New LCD technologies, including dual-cell LCD and miniLEDs will also hurt the growth of the OLED TV market. DSCC further reports that LG Electronics will not be able to reach its 2 million OLED TV goal in 2019 - and have asked LGD to supply it with only 2.5 million OLED TV panels in 2020 (the original plan was to supply 3.5 million panels to LGE).

ETNews: Chinese OLED producers are attempting to find customers in Korea's smartphone industry

In July we reported that LG Electronics is in talks with China-based BOE to supply OLED panels for future smartphones, to replace LGE's current supplier - its sister company LG Display. A new report from Korea's ETNews confirms this, saying that LG Display is focusing on Apple as its future customers, and LGE's small shipments is not critical for the company.

LG V50 ThinQ 5G photo

ETNews also suggests that Samsung Electronics is in early talks with China's CSoT for flexible OLED supply for low-end and mid-tier smartphones. CSoT is not yet producing flexible OLEDs in volume - the company started pilot production in its Wuhan fab in May 2019.

IHS: OLED TV display revenues to reach $7.5 billion in 2025

IHS Markit estimates that OLED TV displays revenues will grow from $2.9 billion in 2019 to $7.5 billion in 2025. Note that IHS is looking at OLED TV display revenues and not total TV set revenues. In 2019 the market share of OLED TV displays out of the total TV display market will be 8.6% - and this will grow to 20.6% (IHS estimates the total TV display market at $36 billion in 2025).

OLED TV revenue forecast (2017-2025, IHS)

IHS sees OLED TV panel prices starting to decrease in 2020 as OLED TV panel makers (LGD is currently the only one) start to adopt new technologies to decreases costs such as multi-model glass (MMG), ink-jet printing and QD-OLEDs.

LGD considers shutting down its E2 OLED production line due to the company's financial problems

LG Display is currently producing flexible AMOLED displays for Apple's smartwatches in its E2 4.5-Gen line in Paju. The company hasn't been able to improve its financials as LCD prices are under pressure, and following a recent managerial shuffle, it is now reported that LGD is considering shutting down its E2 line.

Apple Watch Series 5 photo

The E2 production capacity is around 20,000 substrates per month, but it is less economical than LG's larger OLED lines, the E5 and E6 lines which are 6-Gen lines. LG will reportedly move production from its E2 line to its larger lines.

Solas files a lawsuit against Apple saying it infringes upon its OLED patents

Ireland-based OLED IP company Solas OLED has filed a lawsuit in the US (Texas) against Apple for patent infringements. The lawsuit mentions three patents (USPTO# 6072450, 7446338 and 7573068) that relate to the OLED stack, structure and circuitry (for example one of the patents relates to the formation of a backplane on a polyimide substrate).

Solas OLED team photo

Apple is of course not the producer of the OLED displays - but Solas says that Apple is accused of "making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing products that infringe the claims" of its patents. Apple's OLED suppliers are Samsung (for the iPhone and MacBook Pro Touch bar devices) and LG Display (for the Apple Watch display).

Cambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDsCambridge Isotope Laboratories - Deutreated Reagents and High-Purity Gases for OLEDs