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.
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.
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. In 2022, Samsung returned to OLED TV production, and is now offering QD-OLED panels and its first such TV is the S95B.
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:
The latest Samsung OLED news:
Value Electronics hosted their annual TV shootout, checking several high-end TVs to see which model provides the best images. The TVs were professionally calibrated, and tested one next to the other. In total, Value Electronics' shootout featured 6 65" 4K TVs - 3 OLEDs and 3 MiniLED LCD. IN the 8K shootout, there were 3 TVs, from Samsung, Sony and LG. As in previous years, OLED TVs were crowned the "King of TVs", in both the 4K and 8K categories.
For the 4K TV shootout, the best TV in the shootout was Sony's A95L QD-OLED TV. The runner-ups were Samsung's S95C (another QD-OLED TV) and LG's G3 OLED (with an LGD WOLED Panel). The 8K shootout's winner was LG's Z2 WOLED TV.
DSCC estimates that OLED revenues in 2023 will be $36.1 billion - down 13% from last year. Just a few months ago DSCC's forecast for 2023 was $38.9 billion. This is the second year that the OLED market is contracting. In terms of shipments, there will be a 5% decrease in 2023. Looking forward to 2024, DSCC sees the market starting to recover, as demand for IT displays, TVs and smartphones will increase.
Looking at specific markets in 2023, DSCC says that OLED smartphone shipments will remain flat, but will drop 11% in revenues - as the demand for higher-end flexible displays is lower than in 2022. The only positive is the foldable display market, where shipments will increase 33% in 2023 compared to last year. 2023 also experiences a big drop in demand for OLED TVs - DSCC sees shipments declining 31% in 2023. The same goes for laptop OLEDs - a 32% decrease in sales in 2023.
In March 2023 we reported that BOE is developing smartphone OLED displays for Apple's iPhone 15 range, but it is facing technical hurdles, and Apple has yet to approve BOE's displays (the main problem seemed to be around the punch-hole and selfie camera and FaceID sensors).
Today Korean media says that Apple decided to cancel all of BOE's iPhone 15 display panel orders, and has moved all these orders to Samsung Display. Meanwhile LG Display has been approved as a supplier to only some of the iPhone models (specifically not the iPhone 15 Pro Max phone), and Samsung Display remains the only company that provides the displays for all of the iPhone 15 models.
According to reports from Korea, both Samsung Display and LG Display have approached Apple, offering to produce MLA (Multi-Lens Array) AMOLED displays for a future iPhone device. Applying the MLA panel will increase the light output, but will carry higher costs and may also reduce the viewing angles (or actually reduce the side-view brightness).
It is not clear what kind of effect will MLA offer in Apple's case. When LG applied MLA to its TV panels, the company says it improved the brightness by 60% (it also stated that viewing angles actually increased by 30%). Apple will not be the first one to apple MLA to smartphone displays - Samsung itself adopted MLA panels in some of its high-end models (Galaxy S Ultra phones) and so did some other vendors.
During a trade show, Samsung Display discussed its zero-border, or full-screen OLED technology. Samsung is developing several technologies to enable this kind of display - including 3D bonding, edge brightness control, and an under-the-display camera (Samsung calls its UPC, under-panel-camera).
Placing the camera under the OLED is a critical part of this solution, and Samsung said that it is developing the technology to enable this - including an increase of 50% in the light transmission of its OLED displays and a new sub-pixel structure that improves the display quality.
According to a report from Korea, Apple approached both LG Display and Samsung Display, asking its suppliers to develop a completely bezel-less AMOLED display for future iPhones.
Designing an OLED without a bezel is a challenge, mostly because of the encapsulation layer that has to protect the OLEDs. Using an under-the-display camera is also said to be a problem for the OLED makers in such a design.
MIni Cooper unveiled the interior design of its upcoming 2025 model, with a large round OLED display (this same display was shown a year ago in a Mini concept car design).
The display is 9.4" in size, and is produced by Samsung Display. Mini Cooper developed its own unique software, called Mini Operating System 9, complete with several experience modes that control the complete interface and Mini's new personal assistant dog called Spike.
According to reports from Korea, Samsung Display is interested in acquiring OLED IP and patents from Semiconductor Energy Laboratory (SEL). These patents detail an OLED production process that does not require the use of fine metal mask (FMM) evaporation.
The use of FMM to deposit and pattern OLED displays is seen as a major setback towards higher density OLED displays, and it also limits the aperture ratio. It is no wonder that Samsung is interested in such technology, as other display makers have developed similar technologies that offer massive performance boost over the standard FMM process.
According to market research firm Omdia, the OLED automotive displays market is set to grow to $2.17 billion in 2027, up from $481.75 in 2023 (that's a 4.5X growth in sales). In terms of shipments, the market will reach 9 million units in 2027, up from 1.48 million in 2023 (a 7X growth).
Omdia is actually more optimistic about the automotive market than it was last year, as the industry is growing faster than expected. There is a rapid uptake of AMOLED displays in premium cars, as the displays offer a better image quality, lower power consumption and lower weight compared to LCDs, which is all very important for electric cars.
Samsung officially launched the 83S90C, the company's first TV to use LG's WOLED panels. It uses a 4K 120K 83" OLED display, and is powered by Samsung's AI-powered Neural Quantum Processor. The S83S90C will start shipping in a few days in the US, with a suggested price of $5,400.
Interestingly, Samsung decided to have its first WOLED TV sit in the same range as its QD-OLED TVs, the S90C, which includes 55-, 65- and 77-inch QD-OLED TV panels. It's likely the company will try to blur the differences between the QD-OLED and the WOLED panels, and not discuss too much its reliance on LG Display's supply.