Samsung is ramping up its foldable OLED production. Or is it?

Samsung recently re-launched its foldable OLED smartphone, the Galaxy Fold - and the $2,000 smartphone seems to be selling well. In September it was reported that Samsung is seeing strong demand in Korea, and now there is a report from Korea that Samsung Display is ramping up its foldable OLED production.

Samsung Galaxy Fold photo

According to the Korea Herald, SDC has produced 40,000 foldable in August, and had planned to increase that to 67,000 units in September. But it actually produced 92,000 foldable panels in September, and it plans to increase production rate to 102,000 units in October and 99,000 units in November. Samsung's foldable OLED capacity is 3,300 units per day - so it is pretty much running at full capacity now.

Japan Display starts to produce OLED displays, probably for Apple's watch

In April 2019 Reuters reported that Japan Display (JDI) signed a deal with Apple to supply it with AMOLED displays for its smartwatches, and today JDI's new CEO Minoru Kikuoka said that the company recently started producing OLED displays - likely indeed this is low volume production for Apple's wearables.

Apple Watch Series 5 photo

Apple's Watch Series 5 (its latest generation) features a 324x394 1000-nits always-on LTPO AMOLED display (368x448 on the 44m model). Apple is currently buying these OLED displays exclusively from LGD.

IHS: OLED TV display revenues to reach $7.5 billion in 2025

IHS Markit estimates that OLED TV displays revenues will grow from $2.9 billion in 2019 to $7.5 billion in 2025. Note that IHS is looking at OLED TV display revenues and not total TV set revenues. In 2019 the market share of OLED TV displays out of the total TV display market will be 8.6% - and this will grow to 20.6% (IHS estimates the total TV display market at $36 billion in 2025).

OLED TV revenue forecast (2017-2025, IHS)

IHS sees OLED TV panel prices starting to decrease in 2020 as OLED TV panel makers (LGD is currently the only one) start to adopt new technologies to decreases costs such as multi-model glass (MMG), ink-jet printing and QD-OLEDs.

Business Korea - Samsung to invest $10.85 billion in QD-OLED TV production

Business Korea says that Samsung Display has finalized its QD-OLED TV production plans. The company will invest 13 trillion Won (around $10.85 billion) to convert its L8 LCD production line in Tangjeong to QD-OLED production.

Samsung Display production hub, Tangjeong, South Chungcheong Province

According to the report, SDC's investment will be the single largest investment in Korea's display industry ever. The L8-1-1 LCD line will be shut down immediately, and converted to QD-OLED production. SDC will also shut down its second line (L8-2-1) and in total the two fabs will be able to produce 200,000 8-Gen glass substrates each month (down from the current 360,000 substrates in LCD production today). Mass production of QD-OLED panels will begin in 2022.

LGD considers shutting down its E2 OLED production line due to the company's financial problems

LG Display is currently producing flexible AMOLED displays for Apple's smartwatches in its E2 4.5-Gen line in Paju. The company hasn't been able to improve its financials as LCD prices are under pressure, and following a recent managerial shuffle, it is now reported that LGD is considering shutting down its E2 line.

Apple Watch Series 5 photo

The E2 production capacity is around 20,000 substrates per month, but it is less economical than LG's larger OLED lines, the E5 and E6 lines which are 6-Gen lines. LG will reportedly move production from its E2 line to its larger lines.

JDI may convert its Hakusan Ishikawa LCD fab to OLED production

Japan Display recently secured a 80 billion Yen (around $740 million) bailout plan from the China-based Harvest Group, Hong Kong-based activist investor Oasis Management and an unnamed JDI customer - which is likely to be Apple.

In August 2017, Japan Display announced a last-resort strategic focus on OLED displays as the Japanese display maker failed to shift to OLED displays in time. JDI now announced that it is extending the shut-down of its Hakusan Ishikawa LCD fab due to slow demand for LCD displays from Apple. JDI is talks with the Harvest Group to convert the fab to OLED production.

LG Display starts to use Korean-made hydrogen fluoride in its OLED fabs as Japan restricts exports

In July 2019 Japan's government decided to restrict some material exports to South Korea, following a diplomatic tension between the two countries. One of the materials Japan restricted is hydrogen fluoride which is used in OLED production as an etching gas and cleaning fluid.

LG OLED C9 photo

According to a new report in Korea, as the OLED industry does not require an extremely high purity hydrogen fluoride and LG has been able to quickly find a source for this gas in Korea. It already started to use the Korean material in production - and aims to source 100% of its hydrogen fluoride from Korean vendors.

LG announces its 8.5-Gen OLED TV fab in Guangzhou is now in production

LG Display announced today that it started producing OLED TV panels at its 8.5-Gen OLED fab in Guangzhou, China. LG's new fab will have a monthly capacity of 60,000 substrates, which will be expanded to 90,000 by 2021.

LG Display 8.5-gen OLED TV fab in Guangzhou, China

LG says that by 2022, it will enable LGD to produce over 10 million OLED TV panels per year by 2022 - in its 8.5-gen fabs in Guangzhou and Paju, Korea (70,000 substrates per months) and its 10.5-Gen fab that it is now building in Paju. IHS expects LG to ship 5.5 million OLED TVs in 2020, 7.1 million in 2021 and over 10 million in 2022. In 2019 LG expects to ship 3.8 million units.

A report from Korea suggests that LGD will produce 10% of Apple's next-gen iPhone OLEDs displays

According to a report from Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, LG Display has passed Apple's quality requirements and has started to produce AMOLED displays for Apple's next generation iPhone, to be announced in September.

Apple iPhone XS photo

According to JoongAng Ilbo, Apple aims to ship around 65 million units of its new smartphones, and has contracted LGD to produce between 6 to 7 million panels, around 10% of Apple's total needs. The rest will be produced by Samsung Display. LGD will produce the displays at its E6 production line in Paju, Korea.

Tianma to establish a 6-Gen flexible OLED fab in Xiamen, in a $6.8 billion investment

China-based Tianma announced that it plans to construct a 6-Gen flexible AMOLED production line in Xiamen. The company will setup a joint-venture with the local government that will help finance the new fab, which will cost an estimated 48 billion Yuan ($6.8 billion USD).

Tianma estimates that it will take 30 months to construct the fab, which means that initial production is estimated to start in February 2022. The new fab, when in full capacity, will product 48,000 6-Gen substrates each month.