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 reported its financial results for Q2 2020 - with revenues up 12% over last quarter, as the company enjoyed an increase in demand for IT panels (monitors, notebooks, tablets). But lower demand for TVs and lower utilization at its POLED fabs increased LGD's operating loss.
LG Display says it expects its Q3 revenues and operation profit to improve - as mass production of OLED TV panels in Guangzhou finally started, and the company will ship pOLED panels to Apple's iPhone 12 in the next quarter. LG maintains its 4.5-5 million OLED TV panel shipment forecast for the whole of 2020.
The Elec reports that Apple ordered around 55 million AMOLED panels for its iPhone 12 smartphone series, which will be announced later this year. LG Display will supply around around 20 million AMOLEDs - which is a big increase from the 5 million OLEDs LGD supplied for Apple's previous generation phones.
According to The Elec, LG will supply the panels for Apple's iPhone 12 Max (6.1"), while Samsung will supply all the panels for the iPhone 12 (5.4"), iPhone 12 Pro (6.1") and iPhone 12 Pro max (6.7").
DSCC posted an interesting blog post, in which they detail what they believe to be Apple's iPhone 12 smartphone family specifications.
So we start with the iPhone 12, which will use a 5.42" 2348x1048 (476 PPI) flexible AMOLED display, produced by Samsung Display. DSCC believes the iPhone 12 will use a Y-OCTA integrated touch. DSCC believes that while BOE did not manage to get its panel to the iPhone 12, it may become a supplier in 2021 to the iPhone 12s - if all goes well with the iPhone 12 Max (see below).
LG Display reports disappointing results for Q1 2020 as COVID-19 lowers demand for smartphones and TVs
LG Display reported its financial results for Q1 2020. LGD's revenues were 4.7 trillion Won ($3.8 billion USD), decreased 26% from the previous quarter and 20% from Q1 2019. The company's net loss in the quarter was 199 billion Won ($161 million USD).
LGD's revenues and earnings were below analysts expectations - the company's business was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic which caused lower demand for smartphones and TV panels (which were also hit due to the postponing of major sporting events). LCD panel prices have also taken a hit.
In December 2019 Cadillac announced that its 2021 Escalade will sport a 38-inch curved OLED display. Rumors suggested that LG is the producer of this display, and indeed Cadillac now unveiled the car and its next-generation display - and LG confirmed that this is indeed its P-OLED screen.
The displays, which will come standard on all 2021 Escalade versions, include an instrument cluster and infotainment systems, and enable several customizable displays which include AR navigation and night vision modes. There are actually three different displays - from left to right a 7" display, an 14" one and a 16.9" display. The center 14" is the instrument cluster and it is not-touch enabled (the other two do include touch).
LG Display reports better-than-expected Q4 2019 results, driven by a strong demand to OLED TVs and smartphone OLEDs
LG Display posted its financial results for Q4 2019, with a lower-than-expected loss of $361.6 million and revenues of $5.4 billion - a 10% increase over last quarter, driven by a rise in sales of OLED TVs and smartphone OLEDs.
LGD has given an optimistic forecast for 2020 as it sees higher demand for its OLED TV and mobile P-OLED panels. LGD expects its OLED TV panel revenue to "rise steeply" as its Guangzhou OLED TV fab increases its production - LGD now says it expects the fab to start mass production in March 2020.
LG Display plans to ship over 6 million OLED TV panels in 2020, says first pOLED-equipped car to launch in Q2 2020
LG Display says that it aims to ship over 6 million OLED TV panels in 2020 - that's double what it shipped in 2019. The company also says that it expects its Guangzhou fab starts mass producing panels in Q1 2020, earlier than previous estimated.
Previous estimates, by LG and others, were for around 5.5 million panels in 2020, even before the Guangzhou fab delays. It's possible that LG aims to ship more panels - but some of these will be smaller in size (the new 48-inch panels the company is starting to produce).
LG Display announced that it will demonstrate several new OLED technologies at CES 2020 in Las Vegas next week (January 7-10).
First up, LG Display will show new applications for the aerospace market - including 55" transparent and flexible OLEDs used in airplane cabins. LG will also demonstrate a 65" bendable OLED TV, suitable for first-class cabins, that enable users to adjust the curvature of the TV to create a more immersive experience when required. It seems as if interest in OLEDs is increasing in the aerospace industry.
Huawei's Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro smartphones, released in September 2019, sported AMOLED displays made by Samsung Display (rigid 6.62" 1080x2340) and BOE (flexible 6.53" 1176x2400, the Mate 30 Pro).
According to a report from Korea, Huawei will soon launch its next flagship phones, the Mate 40 and Mate 40 Pro - and the flexible OLEDs used in the Mate 40 Pro will be supplied by Samsung and LG Display (50% split). This is an interesting achievement by the Korean OLED makers and likely quite a blow for BOE. Apparently BOE could not match Huawei's requirement for this curved OLED display.
Motorola announced the Razr 2019, a clamshell-style smartphone that features a 6.2" 2142x876 (21:9) foldable AMOLED display that folds inside. There's also a regular external 2.7" 600x800 AMOLED used when the phone is closed.
This seems, at least to me, to be a beautiful design which may appeal to more consumers compared to the larger foldable phones we have seen until today that open up to a tablet-style device. The Razr is also the cheapest foldable OLED phone yet announced at $1,500 (it will ship in January 2020).