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 leading OLED TV producer and a leading developer of flexible OLED for smartphones, wearables, automotive and more. 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 Display is the world's leading OLED TV panel producer, and LG Electronics is its largest customer - although LGD also supplies OLED panels to other companies including including Panasonic, Sony, Philips, Loewe, JVC, Hisense, Konka and others. OLED TVs are considered the world's best TVs, offering the best image quality. LG makes a wide range of OLED TV panels, ranging from 42-inch to 97-inch, including bendable solutions and even a rollable 65" 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
LG currently produces flexible OLEDs (branded as pOLEDs), for both wearable devices and smartphones. LG is the leading supplier of AMOLED displays for Apple's Watch smartwatch and it also supplies OLED displays for smartphones. Click here for more information on LG's pOLED displays and its production capabilities.
LG is also the world's leading automotive OLED producer, and is already supplying flexible OLEDs to Cadillac, Mercedes, and others.
LG Transparent OLEDs
LG has been working on transparent OLEDs for many years. In 2014 LGD unveiled a 18" transparent OLED prototype, and later in 2016 LGD demonstrated transparent 55" FHD AMOLED display prototypes. In 2019, the company started commercial production of 55" FHD transparent OLEDs, finding small markets in signage, commercial, mobility and more.
The latest LG OLED news:
In July 2023, Samsung officially launched the 83" 83S90C, the company's first TV to use LG's WOLED panels, following several years of negotiations and hesitation by the Korean rivals.
It was assumed that Samsung's total orders from LGD will be limited (as the 83-inch are expensive and not highly popular), and according to UBI, the total number of panels that LGD actually shipped to Samsung is only 'several thousands'.
DSCC reports that according to its information, OLED panel shipments in Q3 2023 increased 14% from last year (and 18% from the previous quarter) to reach 205 million units. There are positive signs that inventory has started to rebalance for some categories.
OLED smartphone shipments increased 12% over last quarter (and 25% from last year), while OLED TV shipments continue to be soft, and dropped 14% from last quarter and 40% (!) from last year.
BOE has been trying to be accepted into Apple's supply chain for their latest iPhone devices for many years, but has so far succeeded only in getting small orders for aftermarket panels. In March it was reported that BOE is developing panels for Apple, but in September it was reported that Apple decided to cancel all of its panned orders for BOE's iPhone 15 display OLED panels due to technical issues, and has moved all these orders to Samsung Display.
Now it is reported in Korean media that BOE has been finally approved, and the Chinese-based OLED maker will supply 2 million panels for Apple - or only about 3% of its total OLED supply in 2023. Obviously BOE hopes to gain more orders in 2024.
According to Chosun Biz, both Samsung Display and LG Display are progressing in their negotiations with Apple for the supply of OLED panels for Apple's next-generation iPad devices. Apple is aiming to buy around 10 million units in 2024, and each panel is expected to cost around 3 times as much as of Apple's iPhone OLED panels.
SDC and LGD are both planning to start production in February 2024, earlier than expected. The total capacity (at 10 million units) is still very small compared to the smartphone market (even considering the tablet display area is larger). The panels will be produced at the companies' existing 6-Gen lines. Chosun says that LGD will get 60% of the orders (6 million displays), and SDC will get the rest.
LG Display announced that its third-generation WOLED META TV panels have earned UL Solutions' Platinum eye safety rating and the UL Mark for low blue light. LGD's panels earned a score of 36%, the lowest among all existing TV panels (conventional LCDs range from 70-80%, and lower scores are better).
This year, UL Solutions has implemented more stringent criteria for measuring blue light emissions in an effort to give consumers more reliable information, with program ratings now classified as Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The top rating, Platinum, is awarded to display products with blue light wavelength emissions that sit below 40% of the total blue light wavelength emissions.
LG Display and Starbucks Korea jointly installed a beautiful "transparent OLED Table" at Starbucks' Yeosu Dolsan DT Branch. The installation includes 12 55-inch transparent OLED TVs panels.
The 8-meters long table is placed at the center of the store, and display the images of rolling waves to create an experience like seating at the beach. The displays include sensors that create wave effects when coffee mugs are placed on the table. The transparent displays are placed above what appears to be actual sand.
LG Display published a nice video that explains the hazards of exposure to blue light in displays:
The video discusses how blue light effects our sleep and can create sleep disruption and other problems including depression, how it causes dry eyes and eye strain.
Motorola has demonstrated a new concept phone design, which they refer to as a Adaptive Display Concept. This is a smart bendable phone, that sports a 6.9" FHD+ (2220x1080) flexible AMOLED display produced by LG Display.
The adaptive display concept can be adjusted from a standard Android phone experience in a flat position to being wrapped for a wrist-worn experience or positioned in several stand modes.
LGD reported its financial results for Q3 2023, saying that revenues were almost flat from last quarter as the industry faces an intense inventory correction and demand is slow to recover.
LGD's revenues were 4.785 trillion Won (around $3.5 billion USD) with an operating loss of 662 billion Won (or around $490 million USD).
TrendForce says that 508,000 OLED monitors will ship in 2023, up 323% from 2022. The market will continue to grow at a fast pace, to over a million shipments in 2024.
In 2024, TrendForce sees LG and Samsung both launching new OLED panels for the monitor market, which will help to expand the market. TrendForce further says that at the end of 2023, Samsung Electronics and LGE both hold a market share of almost 30%, Dell holds a market share of around 20% and Asus of nearly 10%.