Article last updated on: Apr 02, 2018

What is an OLED TV?

An OLED TV screen uses a new display technology called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). OLED technology enables displays that are brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than either LCD or Plasma displays. Simply put, OLED TVs deliver the best picture quality ever!

LG EG9600 photo

OLED TV technology

OLED displays are made by placing thin films of organic (carbon based) materials between two conductors. When electrical current is applied, light is emitted. OLED displays are emissive and unlike LCDs, do not require a backlight (unlike LCDs). OLED TV panels offers several advantages over LCDs:

  • Faster refresh rate, better contrast (true blacks) and better color reproduction
  • Better form factor - OLED enables much thinner panels
  • Better viewing angle - almost 180 degrees
  • Efficiency - in an OLED display, only the lit pixels draw power, unlike in an LCD.)
  • OLED panels can potentially be made flexible and/or transparent - think rollable TVs!

OLED TVs on the market - what can you buy today?

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 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'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).

In August 2013, Samsung launched an OLED TV as well, the KN55S9C, that used Samsung's own OLED TV panels. Samsung stopped producing and marketing the S9C OLED TVs soon afterwards and is currently focused on quantum-dot enhanced LCDs (and perhaps Micro-LED will be Samsung's future TV display technology of choice).

Direct Emission vs WRGB

The most straightforward OLED architecture uses 3 color OLED sub-pixels (Red, Green and Blue) to create each 'pixel'. This is referred to as a direct emission OLED, and is the design used in mobile OLED displays (for example those in Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Apple's iPhone X.

For its OLED TVs, however, LG Display is using a different architecture, called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) which uses four white OLED subpixels (each created by using both blue and yellow OLED emitters) with color filters on top (RBG and W). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) was found to be easier to scale-up for large-area OLED production, although it suffers from lower efficiency and more complicated design.

Rollable and transparent OLED televisions?

Like we said before, OLEDs can be made flexible, or transparent. Both LG and Samsung demonstrated large 55" transparent and mirror OLED prototypes, and LGD already demonstrated 77" rollable and transparent OLED panels, which it plans to commercialize by 2020. These kinds of technologies are exciting - and while it will be some years before they reach the market, they could eventually redefine the TV of the future.

LGD 18'' rollable OLED prototype (CES 2016)
Samsung Display 55'' transparent OLED photo

Further reading

Latest OLED TV news

China approves LG Display's Guangzhou OLED TV fab

In July 2017 LG Display announced that it has decided to build a 8.5-Gen (2200x2500) OLED TV production line in Guangzhou. At the end of 2017 LGD got the approval for its new OLED TV fab from the Korean government, and yesterday LG Display announced that the new plant and JV has been approved by the Chinese government.

LG Display's LCD fab in Guangzhou, China

LG Display is also planning a larger fab than what it planned initially - it now says that maximum capacity will be 90,000 monthly 8.5-Gen substrates (2200x2500 mm). Mass production is planned for the second half of 2019, and initial capacity will be 60,000 monthly substrates.

Aura announce its premium aircraft, with OLED displays

US-based Aura is a new semi-private boutique airline. Aura announced its new aircraft design, and two different classes - first and wave. The wave class includes OLED displays in the windows (Aura says these will be transparent OLEDs).

Aura aircraft OLED ceiling photo

The wave class will also include a large tiled OLED display on the ceiling (as you can see in the image above), which will simulate the sky. These look like LG's commercial OLED TV installation.

OLED Handbook

Korea Time: China is expected to approve LG's Guangzhou OLED TV fab plans

In July 2017 LG Display announced that it has decided to build a 8.5-Gen (2200x2500) OLED TV production line in Guangzhou. The Korean government hesitated whether to approve this plan, as it sees OLED as a strategic technology Korea' economy, but by the end of 2017 LGD got the approval for its new OLED TV fab.

LG Display's LCD fab in Guangzhou, China

LGD is still waiting for an approval from the Chinese authorities, and according to today's Korea Times report, the Chinese government is expected to approve LG's plans. Apparently China hesitated as it aims to help the country's own OLED industry, but it hopes that local companies will benefit with a close partnership with LGD.

DSCC: 100 million OLED panels were shipped in Q1 2018, generating $5.8 billion in revenues

Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) says that in Q1 2018 OLED revenues dropped 33% compared to Q4 2017 (but grew 39% compared to Q1 2017) and amounted to $5.9 billion. DSCC says that OLED revenues will decline further in Q2 2018 but will recover in the second half of 2018. Full-year revenues are expected to reach $26.95 billion, while the market will reach $57.2 billion by 2022.

AMOLED revenue and growth (2016-2018, DSCC)

Samsung Electronics was the top OLED customer in the first quarter, and together with Apple (#2) the two companies consumer 79% of all OLED panels by revenue.

LGD starts to supply OLED TV panels to China's HiSense

In early 2018 HiSense said that it plans to introduce its first OLED TV in the first half of 2018, and according to Digitimes LG Display started shipping OLED TV panels to Hisense, which aims to actually ship its TV in Q3 2018.

HiSense 2014 OLED TV prototype

HiSense is China's largest TV producer with a market share of around 15% in the over-$2,000 segment. Hisense has been demonstrating and promising OLED TVs for a long time (in 2014 the company demonstrated its first 55" OLED TV prototype, and in 2011 the company aimed to release a 15-inch OLED "TV"). This time however, it seems that the company will follow through.

CSoT details its OLED ink-jet printing plans, collaborates with Kateeva, Sumitomo, Merck, DuPont and Tianma

Last month CSoT (TCL) announced plans to establish a 11-Gen LCD+OLED TV fab in Shenzhen, China. Details on the OLED part of that fab were not given, but now we have some updates following the company's investor day.

The new fab will use Oxide-TFT backplanes, and it turns out that the OLED part of the fab will also use the 11-Gen substrates (which may be cut for the actual OLED front plane deposition). Out of the entire capacity of 90,000 monthly substrates, the OLED line will use 20,000 substrates. The fab will start mass production in 2021.

LG is now shipping its flagship OLEDW8 wallpaper OLED TV in the UK

LG OLEDW8 wallpaper TV is the company's flagship TV for 2018, and LG today started shipping the new TVs in the UK. The 65" model costs £7,999 (note: affiliate link to Amazon) - or just over $10,000 USD. The 77-inch model (OLED77W8) is not yet shipping, but we know the price in the US will be $14,999. We do not know when the TVs will arrive in the US yet.

LG OLEDW8 photo

The 4K OLEDW8 TV is extremely thin (2.57 mm all the way) and attaches to the wall using magnets - with a thin cable that connects to the sound bar and interface box. The OLEDW8 is powered by LG's new a9 "intelligent processor" that promises better color and fast smart TV (webOS) operations. The TV supports Google's Assistant for natural language control, Dolby Atmos, HDR and 4K HFR.

LG replaces the OLED TV at Incheon airport to an LCD due to burn-in issues

Only four months after LG installed 69 OLED TVs at Seoul's Incheon Airport it was reported that the TVs suffer serious permanent image-retention, or burn-in. ZDNet now reports that LG replaced the problematic OLED TVs at the airport's Korean Air Miler Club Lounge with LCDs.

LG OLED TV at Incheon airport - burn-in photo

The report suggests that LG was not sure it could solve the burn-in issues with this particular display, and so opted for an LCD. LG denies that burn-in is a serious issues and says the TVs's lifetime are over 30,000 hours.