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

Samsung's Harman demonstrates new car display concepts using SDC's OLED and QLED displays

Automotive component maker Harman (owned by Samsung) is demonstrating new automotive display prototypes and designs that make use of Samsung's latest displays - both OLEDs and QLEDs.

Harman OLED/QLED automotive concept (CES-2018, 1)

The new automotive designs includes Samsung's latest flexible and transparent OLED displays, and Harman hopes that these new designs will bring more choice and flexibility to auto makers. Harman displayed two different car concepts which you can see above and below. In these concepts the OLEDs are used for the instrument cluster and other parts of the car, while the QLED panels are used for the infotainment system.

Reports suggest Samsung will start production of its 7.3-inch foldable smartphone in November 2018

Samsung has been developing foldable display technologies for a long time, and it seems that a foldable phone/tablet is always just around the corner. In September 2017 Samsung's Mobile Business group President says that it hopes to have a foldable phone in the market in 2018, and according to new reports from Korea Samsung is now expected to start production in November 2018. The phone will have a 7.3-inch display that folds inside.

Samsung in-foldable OLED smartphone concept (2014)2014 foldable phone concept

The Korea Herald reports that the foldable phone will be introduced in December 2018 or early next year. Samsung Electronics already finished the phone's design and specification, and Samsung Display is expected to complete the display development by March 2018. The actual panel production will commence in September 2018.

OLED for VR and AR Market Report

Samsung unveils its first Micro-LED TV, hoping to compete with LG's OLEDs

Samsung unveiled its first Micro-LED TV at CES, aptly named "The Wall". This is a 146-inch tiled 4K display that is almost 8 times larger than a 55" TV in area. We don't have any technical details yet on this display, but according to reporters at CES you cannot see the seams of the individual tiles.

Samsung 146'' micro-LED TV, The Wall

Samsung says that this display will ship in 2018 - but it did not reveal the price or expected release date. It's also not clear whether you will be able to actually customize this display with smaller and/or larger sizes.

Apple's iPhone wins burn-in test over Samsung's flagship OLED phones

Korea's Cetizen posted an interesting review of the burn-in of 3 flagship OLED phones, the iPhone X, the S7 Edge and the Note 8. Cetizen displayed the same image on all three phones for 510 hours (!) at full brightness.

Cetizen OLED burn-in test (iPhone X, Note 8, S7 Edge)

As you can see in the image above, the Note 8 has very visible burn-in, while the two other phones perform better. Cetizen say that the iPhone has the best display in that regard. Apple did in fact confirm that the iPhone X suffers from burn in, but also said that it engineered the display to be the best in the industry in reducing the effect of OLED burn-in, though - and apparently this engineering works.

CLSA: Samsung's OLED production will grow 26% in 2018 to reach 570 million units

CLSA estimates that in 2017 Samsung Display produced 450 million OLED displays, and this will grow 26% in 2018 to reach 570 million units. Samsung's current capacity for flexible OLEDs is about 330-385.

Oppo A79 photo

Looking at the OLED TV market, CLSA expects it to continue its fast growth. Global OLED TV shipments will grow to 2.7 million units in 2018 (up from 1.6 million in 2017). LG Display is said to shift its focus to larger panel production (65-inch and 77-inch) so this may effect the number of panels produced.

UDC did not yet sign a new agreement with SDC, which expired on December 31 2017

In August 2011 Samsung signed a long-term license agreement with Universal Display which allowed Samsung to acquire and use UDC's patented phosphorescent OLED materials. That important agreement (which generated hundreds of millions in revenues for UDC over the years) expired on December 31, 2017.

UDC announced yesterday that it is in on-going discussions regarding a formal long-term extension of these agreements (the patent license agreement and the OLED material purchase agreement). UDC expects SDC to continue buying materials during these discussions. No time frame has been established for the completion of these discussions.

DSCC: OLED revenues reached over $5 billion in Q3 2017, will reach $10 billion in Q4

Display analyst firm DSCC released a new market report on the OLED market, in which they have some very interesting estimates on the OLED market. OLED revenues reached over $5 billion for the first time in Q3 2017, and DSCC sees a huge 88% jump in the final quarter of 2017 (to $10 billion) as Samsung starts to supply flexible OLEDs to Apple.

OLED shipments (Q1 2016 - Q3 2018, DSCC)

Flexible OLED revenues are the main driver of the growth in OLED smartphone shipments, with revenues rising 37% in Q3 2017 and are expected to grow 140% (Q/Q) in Q4 2017. Flexible OLED unit share out of the entire OLED smartphone market reached 33% in Q3 and will reach 49% in Q4. In terms of revenues, the market share will grow from 66% in Q3 to 80% in Q4.

Business Korea: Samsung to ship 180-200 million OLEDs to Apple in 2018

According to Business Korea, Samsung Display will ship 50 million flexible AMOLED displays to Apple in 2017. Next year that amount is set to quadruple to 180-200 million panels, as Apple aims to adopt OLED displays in more iPhone models.

Apple iPhone X side photo

Samsung will produce all of these OLEDs bound for Apple at its A3 fab. Initially SDC aimed to construct a new fab for Apple (the A5 fab) but earlier reports suggested that these plans have been delayed. Samsung managed to increase the yields at its A3 line from 60% in early 2017 to around 90% today.

CLSA: OLED capacity spending has peaked, sees no more orders in the near future

Analysts from CLSA returned from a journey to Asia with some interesting notes on the OLED industry. According to CLSA, spending in the OLED industry has peaked and OLED producers are not expecting to place any new equipment orders in the near future. This coincides with IHS estimates of over supply in the flexible OLED market in 2018.

According to CLSA, Samsung has a current capacity in its A3 and A4 (which should be ready by Q2 2018) OLED fabs to produce about 330-385 million OLED displays per year (11 lines, each about 15,000 monthly substrates) which SDC expects to be enough to satisfy Apple's and Samsung Electronics' demand. SDC does not see a strong demand from China's smartphone makers, surprisingly, due to the high cost of OLED displays. Without demand for larger displays (tablets/laptops) or perhaps for foldable devices, SDC's seem to be content with its current OLED capacity.