Apple reportedly progresses with its Micro-LED R&D project

Bloomberg posted an interesting article, saying that Apple is making good progress in its Micro-LED development project, and has managed to produce promising display samples. Apple is seeking to use Micro-LED displays in future wearable products - and eventually use Micro-LEDs in smartphones and maybe VR HMDs as well.

Apple display facility (Santa Clara, California - Bloomberg)

Apple display facility, Santa Clara, CA

Apple is not likely to become a MicroLED producer, but it does seek to control the production process entirely - and so become the first (and only) company to be able to adopt these displays.

LG Display is also developing large-area Micro-LED TVs

In early 2018 Samsung unveiled its 146" modular Wall Micro-LED TV, and LG Display was quick to announce that it is also developing similar technology. According to reports, LGD aims to unveil its first Micro-LED TV in September 2018 (at IFA perhaps?) - and it will be larger than Samsung's.

Samsung 146'' micro-LED TV, The Wall

Samsung 146-inch Wall Micro-LED TV

Samsung's focus for the premium TV market is on two technologies, Quantum Dots and Micro-LEDs. It is not likely that LG Display is shifting its focus from OLEDs to Micro-LEDs, but it may be that Micro-LEDs will be used for very large area TVs and maybe for modular designs signage displays.

Samsung denies it is developing QD-OLED TVs, will focus on Micro-LEDs and QLEDs

Last week we reported that ETNews claims that Samsung is developing a hybrid Quantum-Dots OLED technology for its future TVs.

Today Yonhap News reports that Samsung Visual Display Business VP, Han Jong-hee, denies this story, saying that Samsung sticks to its two-track strategy for the high-end TV market, developing both QLED (quantum-dots enhanced LED LCDs) and Micro-LED TVs. Han further says that Samsung will start selling its Wall Micro-LED TV in August 2018.

DSCC: it may be hard to justify the extra cost of flexible OLEDs compared to rigid OLEDs and LCDs

Display analyst firm DSCC posted an interested article stating that the latest range of bezel-less LCDs are very similar to the high-end flexible OLEDs in form (not in contrast or image quality), to the point that mid-smartphone makers find it hard to justify the extra cost of a flexible OLEDs. The following table graphs shows the current price gap between flexible OLEDs and LCDs:
Price of a smartphone flexible OLED vs rigid-OLED vs LCD (DSCC, Feb 2018)While a flexible OLED does enable a higher display-to-body ratio (82.9% on the iPhone X, for example), a high end LCD comes pretty close - the Oppo F5 reaches 78.1%.

Japan Display finds it more challenging than expected to find partners for its OLED project

In August 2017, Japan Display announced a strategic focus on OLED displays as the losing display maker failed to keep up with the industry shift to OLEDs. JDI announced it will raise funds to accelerate its OLED plans and prepare for mass production in 2019.

In October 2017 Japan Display estimated that it will require more than 200 billion Yen (around $1.77 billion USD) to start mass producing OLEDs in 2019, and the company started reaching out to display makers in China and Korea as finding a partner in Japan is difficult. JDI hoped to finalize its financing by March 2018, but according to a new report from Japan the investors in China, while initially eager to participate, are now hesitating.

Digitimes: Chinese smartphone makers to start adopting mini-LED backlit LCDs as OLED alternative

According to Digitimes Research, due to the high prices and low availability of OLED displays, China-based smartphone makers (including Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi) are planning to adopt mini LED backlit LCD panels in future smartphones as an alternative to OLED displays.

Oppo A79 photo

DR reports that Chinese phone makers have reached out to Taiwan-based LED makers to start making mini-LED backlighting units by June 2018. While it is true that the OLED market is currently in an over-demand situation, OLED capacity is set to increase sharply in the near future, and IHS estimates that the market will actually enter an over-supply situation in 2018.

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.

Royole to evaluate Universal Display's PHOLED materials

Universal Display announced today that Royole has signed an OLED evaluation agreement. UDC will collaborate with Royole and supply its proprietary UniversalPHOLED phosphorescent OLED materials and technology for Royole’s display applications.

UDC PHOLED materials photo (2017)

UDC did not disclose any more details or the financial terms of the agreement. Royole is constructing a 5.5-Gen (Royole calls it a Quasi-6-Gen) flexible OLED production facility in Shenzhen, China. The new fab is scheduled to begin operation in 2018 and will have a monthly capacity of 45,000 substrates.

UBI: The price gap between premium OLED and LCD TVs is almost gone

UBI Research is tracking the price of premium TV sold on in the US. As competition intensifies, the price gap between OLED and LCD TVs keeps getting lower - to the point where is not much difference between a high end Samsung QLED TV and LG's OLEDC7 OLED TVs.

LCD vs OLED TV price gap, (UBI Research, 2016-2017)

In December 2016, the price gap between a 65" LG OLED TV to a 65" Samsung SUHD TV was about $1,000. The price gap as of today is only about $300. The price gap for a 55" TV is even lower (around $200).