OLED is an emerging display and lighting technology that enables beautiful and efficient displays and lighting panels. Thin OLEDs are already being used in many mobile devices and TVs.
LG Display - pOLED displays
LG Display is one of the leaders in OLED production. LG Display started producing flexible OLEDs for mobile devices in 2015, initially focusing on small wearable OLEDs - for devices such as Apple's Watch and LG's own wearables.
In October 2017, following a large expansion in LGD's AMOLED production capacity, LG Display started to produce large flexible OLEDs for smartphones. This is when LGD also started to brand its OLED displays as pOLEDs (p is for plastic). LGD's first smartphone display in production was a 6-inch 1440x2880 (537) display, that was adopted by LG's V30 and Google's Pixel 2 XL) recently introduced smartphones that use LG's new P-OLED smartphone displays, both with the same display - a 6" 1440x2880 (537 PPI).
While on paper these initial displays were superb, actual reviews were rather dismal - as both reviewers and customers complained about bad color reproduction, graininess and problematic viewing angles. In addition many users seem to report serious image retention issues. One of LGD's problems was that it faced very low yields at its 6-Gen E5 line, and so had to produce these smartphone displays at its Gen-4.5 flexible AMOLED line. It seems that as LGD improved its yields and technology, the quality of the displays improved dramatically.
LGD's is now producing newer pOLED displays - for example the 6.4" 1440x3120 notch-type pOLED used in LG Electronics's V40 ThinQ, introduced in October 2018. LG also produces the 6" QHD+ display used by Sony in its Xperia XZ3 flagship.
LGD pOLED production fabs
LG Display has several flexible OLED production fabs. The first one was a pilot 4.5-Gen line, with limited capacity - and so the E2 line is used to produce LGD's flexible wearable OLED displays.
LG Display's main current fab is its E5 line in Gumi, which has a monthly capacity of 7,500 monthly 6-Gen substrates (or about 1.5 million 5.5" panels at 100% yields). The new lab started pilot production in early 2017, even though it took LGD time to stabilize the production which only actually in earnest in 2018.
LG Display is constructing a third flexible OLED line, the E6 line in Paju which is another 6-Gen line, but with a larger capacity of 15,000 monthly substrates. The E6 line is expected to begin production towards the end of 2018.
LG's fourth flexible OLED line may be built at the company's large P10 display production complex in Paju. The P10 will be a large display complex with a total investment of close to $10 billion - but will mostly produce OLED TV panels. It could include a flexible OLED line, but LG's plans are not finalized yet, its seems.
pOLED vs PLED
pOLED is LG Display's brand name for mobile flexible AMOLED displays. Somewhat confusingly, PLED, also called P-OLEDs, are Polymer-based OLED materials - a class of materials pioneered by CDT (now owned by Sumitomo) that can be used to create OLEDs (most OLEDs today use Small Molecule OLED materials). For more on PLEDs, see here.
The latest LG pOLED news:
LG Display announced its unaudited financial results for Q2 2019, and updated on its upcoming OLED projects.
First of all, LGD announced an additional investment of KRW 3 trillion ($2.5 billion) P10 10.5-Gen OLED TV fab in Paju. Last month it was reported that LG display has started to install some of the Oxide-TFT deposition equipment (supplied by Applied Materials and Jusung Engineering). The mass production at the first lines in the P10 fab is expected to begin in 2021. LG Display did not disclose any more details regarding this new $2.5 billion investment plan yet.
According to a new report from Korea, LG Electronics is in talks with China-based BOE to supply OLED panels for future smartphones -and replace LGE's current supplier - it's sister company LG Display.
The report suggests two reasons for LG's talk with BOE. First is LG's drive to cut costs as its mobile phone business is losing massive amounts of money. The second reason is that LG Display cannot supply enough panels for LG Electronics as it still struggles with low production yields.
LG Electronics announced that its latest smartphone, the V50 ThinQ 5G is off to a great start, having sold 100,000 units in Korea in the first week following its launch. LGE says that this is more than four times than the sales of its V40 smartphone.
The V50 ThinQ 5G sports a 6.4" 1440x3120 pOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a microSD slot. LG's first 5G smartphone also offers a triple camera setup.
LG Display announced that it has shipped over 100 million automotive displays. The area of all the displays the company has produced so far is equivalent to around 1.5 million m2, or 200 football fields. LG is supplying its automotive displays to Daimler Benz, BMW, Hyundai Motors, Toyota, Honda, Tesla, GM, and more.
LGD is currently producing only LCD automotive displays, but the company has been developing pOLED automotive for many years. LGD now says that it will start producing automotive pOLED displays by the end of Q2 2019, in its 6-Gen E5 flexible OLED line in Gumi, Korea.
LG announces three new smartphones that feature AMOLED displays. First up we have the G8 ThinQ, a high end smartphone that features a 6.1" 1440x3120 Crystal Sound OLED, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, a microSD slot and a triple camera setup.
LG also offers a variant called the G8s ThinQ which sports a slightly larger display (but with lower density) - a 6.2" 1080x2240 pOLED. Otherwise the specifications are quite similar. The idea is that a CSO display vibrates and turns into a diaphragm - to produce high quality sound. LG says that such a speaker improves the clarity compared to regular smartphone speakers. The G8 ThinQ will also use other audio technology, including DST-X 3D Surround Sound emulation, Hi-Fi Quad DAC, Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) and more.
LG Electronics says that it will introduce its first 5G smartphone (the V50 ThinQ 5G, which will probably use a pOLED display) in MWC 2019 next week - as it hopes this will help it rebound its smartphone business. At MWC it will also launch its G8 ThinQ with its Crystal Sound OLED.
Regarding foldable OLED technology, the LG's president says that it is still premature to release a foldable phone. The company says that its technology is ready - and in fact LG already introduced its rollable OLED TV which is even one step ahead of foldable technology. If consumer reaction to foldable smartphones is positive the company is "fully ready to respond".
LG Display reported its financial results for Q4 2018 - it reported an operating profit of ₩279 billion ($250 million USD) due to strong shipments of IT panels and OLED TVs. LGD however gave a weak outlook to 2019 (for its LCD business).
LGD says that it will invest $7.1 billion in 2019 in capacity expansion, and $3.5 billion in 2020. It will divert all of its investments into OLED displays - with 60% going to large area OLED TV production and 40% going to small/medium pOLED production.
During the company's recent conference call, LGD's CFO, D.H. Seo, said that they expect to see some revenus from its automotive pOLED business "by the end of 2019".
Google's 2017 Pixel 2 XL was one of the first phones to adopt LG Display's pOLEDs (6" 1440x2880) - and initial reviews of the display were rather dismal - as both reviewers and customers complained about bad color reproduction, graininess and problematic viewing angles. Many users also reported serious image retention issues.
In 2017, Google used Samsung's Super AMOLED displays in the smaller in 2017. This year, for the 2018 Google Pixel 3, Google chose SDC's 6.3" 1440x2960 Super AMOLED for the larger Pixel 3 XL - with proved to be a top-notch display. For the smaller Pixel 3, Google picked LG Display's 5.5" 1080x2160 - probably hoping that LGD managed to improve its displays - and most importantly its quality controls.
Display measurement experts Display Mate posted an in-depth review of the Google Pixel 3 XL 6.3" 1440x2960 AMOLED display. The display wins DisplayMate's highest ever Overall Display Assessment Grade of A+ together with a DisplayMate Best Smartphone Display Award.
DisplayMate says that Google now joins Apple and Samsung as the top tier of smartphone displays. The Google 3 XL display is on par with the AMOLED display used in Samsung's Galaxy S9. Interestingly, it turns out that Samsung Display provides this 6.3" AMOLED display to the Pixel 3 XL, while LG Display is likely to be the supplier for the smaller 5.5" 1080x2160 display used in the Pixel 3.