Article last updated on: May 15, 2018

Sony logo

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) is a new technology that enables brighter, more efficient, thinner, faster and better looking displays. OLED panels feature better refresh rates and contrast than either LCD or Plasma - and can be made flexible and transparent.

Sony has been involved with OLED research, development and production for years, and can claim several OLED firsts: in 2004 they launched the world's first PDA with an OLED display (the 3.8" Clie PEG-VZ90), the world's first OLED TV in 2007 (the 11" XEL-1) and for a while they offered the largest OLED displays (the 24.5" BVM-F250 professional OLED monitors). Today Sony produces OLED TVs - using panels produced by LG Display.

Sony OLED TV

In 2017 Sony introduced its first OLED TV, the XBR-A1E. These 55" and 65" used LG's WRGB OLED panels, and were very successful. In 2018 Sony introduced its 2nd-generation OLED TV, the AF8.

Sony AF8 photo

Back in 2007, Sony launched the "world's first OLED TV" (the XEL-1), although at 11-inch, it should not really be considered a TV - maybe not even a monitor. It was only made in small quantities and the price ($2,500) was very high. In February 2010 Sony stopped producing the XEL-1.



In the past Sony was collaborating with Panasonic on OLED TV production technology, but this collaboration was later canceled.

Professional OLED monitors

Sony offers several professional OLED monitors for the film and broadcasting industries, including the PVM 740 (7.4 inch), PVM 1741 (17 inch), and the PVM 2541 (25 inch) and the premium BVM F170 (17 inch) and BVM F250 (25 inch). Sony also offers OLED monitors for the medical market. In September 2012 Sony announced that they have sold over 15,000 professional OLED monitors, and in fact their Nagoya OLED production fab is running at "full capacity".

Sony mobile OLED Products

In past years, Sony released several mobile devices that adopted OLED displays. The original portable Vita gaming console is one example. Sony sold over 2 million Vita consoles. The Vita featured a 5" touch Samsung-Made OLED display (960x544), but Sony switched to an LCD in the newer Vita as they wanted to reduce the cost of the device.

In January 2009, Sony unveiled their 'X' series OLED walkman. They claimed it was the best sounding walkman ever, and it's got the best display, too: a 3-inch 432x240 touch AMOLED. Sony has also used a large AMOLED in their NW-A840 walkman.

Sony's main product line is now smartphones - but the company has yet to release an OLED smartphone.

Sony PlayStation VR

In October 2016 Sony launched its PlayStation VR HMD. Sony's VR HMD uses a 5.7" FHD (1920x1080) AMOLED display (produced by Samsung Display), 360-degree tracking and 3D audio. Sony enjoyed strong sales of this VR headset.

Sony OLED microdisplays

Sony are also producing OLED microdisplays, and have several such displays on the market, including a 0.5" XGA (1024x768) panel for digital camera EVFs and a 0.7" 1280x720 microdisplay used in Sony's HMD products.

Latest Sony OLED news

DSCC: 100 million OLED panels were shipped in Q1 2018, generating $5.8 billion in revenues

Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) says that in Q1 2018 OLED revenues dropped 33% compared to Q4 2017 (but grew 39% compared to Q1 2017) and amounted to $5.9 billion. DSCC says that OLED revenues will decline further in Q2 2018 but will recover in the second half of 2018. Full-year revenues are expected to reach $26.95 billion, while the market will reach $57.2 billion by 2022.

AMOLED revenue and growth (2016-2018, DSCC)

Samsung Electronics was the top OLED customer in the first quarter, and together with Apple (#2) the two companies consumer 79% of all OLED panels by revenue.

The OLED Marketplace, find your OLED here

Sony announces the world's smallest pixel pitch OLED microdisplay

Sony launched a new OLED microdisplay, the ECX339A, which has the world's smallest pixel pitch (according to Sony) at 6.3um. The 0.5-inch microdisplay's resolution is 1600x1200 (UXGA) and it supports a frame rate of up to 240 fps. The maximum brightness is 1,000 nits.

Sony ECX339A OLED Microdisplay photo

Sony already started sampling this new microdisplay in January 2018, and mass production is planned for November 2018. The price of each sample is ¥50,000 - or about $460 USD.

LGD aims to produce 10 million OLED TV panels in 2021

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that LG Display aims to increase its OLED TV production capacity to 10 million units by 2021 - which is six times its capacity in 2017 (1.7 million). Next year LGD aims to produce around 2.8 million OLED TVs. LGD's investment in new OLED TV capacity will reach $18 billion by 2020.

LGD 88'' 8K OLED prototype photo

LG Display is enjoying a surge in demand for OLED TVs, and OLED TVs sales account for around half of its high-end TV sales (TVs with a price tag of over $2,000). In 2018 OLED's share in LGD's premium TV panes will grow to 70%. LG Display is confident it could even sell 20 million OLED TV panels each year, if it could make them. LG is "betting all on OLED" and minimizes its LCD investments as much as possible.

Sony announces the prices of its 2018 OLED TVs

Sony's announced the prices of its new 2018 OLED TV, the AF8. The 55" model will retail for $2,800 while the 65" one will cost $3,800. The AF8 will ship soon in the summer. You can pre-order now at Amazon.com, although prices are higher by around $500 then Sony's official price.

Sony AF8 photo

The AF8 is a premium TV series (55-inch / 65-inch) that feature Sony's X1 Extreme picture processor, Sony's Acoustic Surface tech and Google and Amazon voice recognition technologies.

LG Display to supply Sony with P-OLED displays for future smartphones

According to Business Korea, LG Display signed an agreement with Sony to supply it with flexible P-OLED displays for future Sony smartphones. Sony is not a major smartphone player globally, but in Japan it holds 14.9% of the market (second only to Apple).

LG V30 photoLG V30 P-OLED Smartphone

LG Display is already supplying Sony with OLED displays for Sony's OLED TVs, and reportedly in 2017 Sony requested LGD to double its OLED panel shipments as demand for Sony's OLED TVs has been better than expected.

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.