OLED is an emerging display technology that is fast becoming the mainstream display technology in many markets, as OLED enables display panels that offer the best image quality and free design as they can be made flexible and transparent. The Samsung OLED displays are considered to be the best in the industry and the Korean company is the clear lead in AMOLED production for mobile devices.

SDC 5.7'' FHD rollable OLED at SID 2016

Over the pay years Samsung invested billions of dollars in OLED research and production facilities as the company sees OLEDs fast replacing LCD displays in all mobile applications.

Samsung AMOLED displays

Samsung is currently producing over 300 million AMOLED displays in a year, used mostly in smartphones - such as Samsung's own Galaxy S7 (and S7 edge ) - but also in smartphones from Gionee, Meizu, Acer, HP, Vivo, Microsoft, Lenovo, ZTE, Hisense, Konka and others. Samsung also produces large mobile OLEDs for tablets, laptops and monitors.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge photoSamsung Galaxy S6 Edge

In August 2013 Samsung launched the company's first OLED TV, the KN55S9C, which used a curved 55" OLED panel. The TV was priced at around $8999 in the US and Korea, but is no longer in production, and was never in real mass production. Samsung has yet to return to OLED TV production.



Samsung flexible OLED displays

Following its initial flexible OLED production launch in 2013, and the huge success of its edge-type phones, Samsung is currently producing around 9 million flexible OLEDs each month to satisfy demand for the Galaxy S7 edge and its other flexible OLED products. Samsung has reportedly been chosen to supply 100 million flexible OLED panels to Apple's future iPhones.

Future Samsung OLED devices

Samsung is developing several next generation display technologies based on OLEDs. Samsung has been developing a foldable OLED device for a long time - which may dramatically change the mobile device market as it could enable smartphone to turn into tablets or phones that can be folded into smaller devices.

Samsung is also developing transparent OLEDs (see the company's 55" FHD transparent and mirror-type OLEDs here) for retail application, and also readies next generation displays for the automotive industry.

Several years ago Samsung released the following video, showing a concept transparent flexible AMOLED tablet device. It will be years before Samsung can commercialize such a display, but it's nice to see what the future holds:

Further reading

Latest Samsung OLED news

Dell's OLED laptops to launch in April (and not in March as first promised)

In January 2019 Dell announced that it will release 15" OLED models of its 2019 XPS 15, Dell G7 15 and the Alienware m15. Back then Dell said that the laptops will ship in March 2019, but Dell’s VP General Manager now says that the target date is April.

Dell 2019 XPS 15 laptop (Engadget photo)

We've been waiting for OLED laptops for many years, so one more month to wait is not a big deal - if indeed the OLED laptops will ship in April. In January Samsung Display announced that it will start mass producing its new 15.6" UHD (3840x2160) OLED display panels in February 2019. Perhaps Samsung is delaying its mass production - or perhaps this is Dell's decision or need to postpone.

Samsung Display to review its QD-OLED investment plan on April

According to reports, Samsung Display will hold an investment review committee on April 2019 to decide whether to go ahead with plans to start producing QD-OLED TV panels. If the plan is approved, Samsung will start installing production equipment towards the end of 2019, with mass production starting by the end of 2020 or early 2021.

QD-OLED stack scheme (DSCC, Oct-2018)

According to earlier reports, Samsung aimed to start pilot production of QD-OLED TV panels in 2019. It's not clear whether the new reports suggest a delay or whether they only refer to the mass production step, with pilot production proceeding as planned.

OLED Handbook

DSCC: the production costs of a 55" QD OLED TV will reach almost $800 in 2019, will fall to $450 by 2022

DSCC says that production costs for a 55" QD-OLED TV panel at Samsung Display's 8.5-Gen fab will reach almost $800 in 2019. While this will fall to around $450 in 2022, Samsung will still lose money on every panel sold if DSCC has its price and cost estimates right.

QD-OLED production cost estimates (2019-2022, DSCC)

It is important to note that most of the cost is depreciation costs - which means that in terms of cash on each panel, SDC's margins will actually be around 40%. Part of the reason for he high cost of required equipment is the need to use 12 TFT masks.. SDC is apparently looking to reduce the mask number which will lower production costs.

Leaked ad shows Samsung upcoming foldable smartphone device

In November 2018 Samsung unveiled its upcoming foldable smartphone, and according to reports it may officially launch this new product on February 20th (at the Samsung Galaxy S10 unveiling event). Samsung Vietnam accidentally published an ad showing several new technologies, including a foldable smartphone:

Samsung first foldable smartphone/tablet device will use two OLED displays - a large 7.3" 1532x2152 foldable AMOLED that folds inside, and a smaller secondary OLED (4.5" 840x1960). Samsung brands the foldalbe display as the Samsung Infinity Flex Display.

Samsung reports its Q4 2018 financial results - lower OLED revenues, demand will pick up in H2 2019

Samsung Electronics reported its financial results for Q4 2018, with revenues of KRW 59.27 trillion ($53 billion USD), down 10% from Q4 2017. Samsung's operating profit of KRW 10.8 trillion ($9.6 billion) was down 29% from 2017.

Samsung Display reported a decline in rigid smartphone OLED display sales - due to rising competition from LCD panels. Demand for flexible OLEDs was strong. In Q1 2019, OLED display sales will remain weak - but Samsung says that flexible OLED demand will pickup in the second half of 2019.

DSCC sees a slow recovery in SDC's flexible OLED utilization rates, details its smartphone OLED prices and production costs

DSCC released its cost and prices estimates for Samsung's smartphone OLEDs. For rigid OLEDs production costs range from $23 for a 5.5" FHD AMOLED to $32 for a 7.21" 2244x1080 one (see chart below). For some of its rigid OLEDs, SDC enjoys a high operating margin of 30%.

SDC rigid OLED production cost and price (Q4 2018, DSCC)

Flexible OLEDs are of course much more expensive - a 5.5" 2560x1440 panel costs almost $70, while a 6.46" 2688x1242 panel costs around $90 (as can be seen in the chart below). As in rigid OLEDs, the larger displays have a higher operating margin (up to 26% for the 6.46" panel).

You can compare DSCC's production costs estimates with the recently released IHS production costs here. IHS estimates a 5.7" rigid OLED at $18.62 (DSCC: 5.8" at $23) and a 5.8" flexible OLED at $22.61 (DSCC: 5.5" costs $70 - that's quite a difference!).

DSCC: SDC 7.3" foldable OLEDs cost $180 to produce, will drop to $90 by 2022

DSCC says that Samsung's foldable 7.3" 2152x15236 AMOLED panel (the one that will be used by Samsung's first foldable OLED device) currently costs almost $180 produce (and SDC will actually lose a bit on every panel sold).

Samsung foldable 7.3'' OLED production cost and price (2019-2022, DSCC)

SDC will be able, though, to quickly lower its production costs which will reach around $90 for each panel in 2022. Cost reductions will enable SDC to maintain a good profit margin on these foldable displays from 2020 onwards. The main reason for the current high prices are SDC's low yields on foldable AMOLEDs.

DSCC details the screens Samsung will use in its upcoming Samsung Galaxy 10 smartphone

DSCC says that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10 will come in three models:

  • The Galaxy S10 Light will use a 5.75" 2340x1080 flexible AMOLED display
  • The Galaxy S10 will sport a 6.11" 3120x1440 flexible AMOLED
  • The Galaxy S10 Plus will sport a large 6.44" 3120x1440 flexible AMOLED

DSCC also details the production cost and panel price at SDC, for the large GS10+ 6.44" AMOLED display - and how it changed from Q1 2018 (with a forecast of up to Q4 2019).

Galaxy S10+ panel cost and price estiamtes, Q1 2018 - Q4 2019 (DSCC)

DSCC: BOE managed to triple its flexible OLED production yields, increases capacity to over 1 million flexible OLED panels per month

Market research firm DSCC says that BOE managed to dramatically increase its yields - which have tripled to over 30% by the end of 2018. The company is expected to continue and improve its yields which will reach, according to DSCC, to almost 60% by the end of 2019.

Flexible OLED yields, Q1 18 - Q4 19, BOE vs SDC (DSCC)
The increased yields enabled BOE to increase its flexible OLED production at its first B7 line from 125,000 units per month in Q3 2018 to almost 1 million panels per month in Q4 2018. BOE's main customer is Huawei - with its Mate 20 Pro. The increased yields means that panel production costs are falling - and DSCC actually expects BOE's production costs to fall below SDC's by the end of 2019 as BOE's fab costs are subsidized - as can be seen in the image below.

Here come the OLED laptops - SDC to start producing 15.6" UHD OLEDs next month

Samsung Display announced that it will start mass producing its new 15.6" UHD (3840x2160) OLED display panels in February 2019. SDC is targeting premium laptops, as these ultra high resolution panels are optimized for gaming, graphic design and video streaming.

HP Spectre x360 15 photo

At CES we saw three companies that announced 15" OLED laptops - HP with its Spectre x360, Lenovo with the Yoga C730 and Dell with the XPS 15, Dell G7 15 and the Alienware m15. It is likely that at least some of these laptops will start shipping in March 2019 when SDC can start supplying the panels.

The 2019 OLED Korea ConferenceThe 2019 OLED Korea Conference