Article last updated on: Jul 29, 2018

OLED is an emerging display technology that uses thin films of organic materials to make efficient, thin and high quality displays. OLED panels can made flexible, rollable and transparent. Korea's LG is at the forefront of OLED development and production - as the world's only OLED TV producer and a leading developer of flexible OLED and OLED lighting panels. LG's subsidiary LG Display is responsible for OLED R&D and panel production, while LG Electronics produces and markets OLED TVs.

LG OLED TVs

LG's 2018 OLED TV lineup include the flagship Wallpaper OLEDW8 (which attaches to the wall using magnets), the OLED-on-glass OLEDE8, the basic OLEDC8 and the entry level OLEDB8. The only TV that is shipping now is the 55" OLEDC8 which is priced at $2,500 (note: this is an affiliated link to Amazon).

As of 2018, the only company that produces produces commercial OLED TV panels is LG Display, and LG Electronics is the leading OLED TV producer - although LGD also supplies OLED panels to other companies including including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others.

LG OLEDW8 photoLG 2018 OLEDW8

Reviews of OLED TVs are terrific, and most experts and consumers agree that these OLED TVs are the best TVs ever produced - with virtually perfect image quality and beautiful form factors. LG is also developing next-generation OLED TV technologies, and has recently demonstrated a 65" rollable TV.

While the basic OLED TV design uses RGB OLED sub-pixels to create each 'pixel' (what is referred to as direct emission OLED, the design used in mobile OLED displays used in Samsung's and Apple's smartphoens, for example), LG Display opted for a different OLED TV design. The so-called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) architecture uses four white OLED subpixels with color filters on top (hence W+RBG). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) is much easier to produce and scale-up, even though it has some technical disadvantages - and it is the technology that enabled LG to be the first company to actually produce commercial OLED TV panels.



LG Flexible OLEDs for mobile devices

LG currently produces flexible OLEDs (branded as P-OLEDs), for both wearable devices and smartphones. LG is the exclusive supplier of AMOLED displays for Apple's Watch smartwatch and it also supplies OLED displays for smartphones - such as 6" P-OLEDs used in LG's own V30 and Google's Pixel 2 XL. According to reports LG will start to supply Apple with smartphone OLEDs for Apple's 2018 6.5" iPhone XI+.

LG Transparent OLEDs

LG are also working on transparent OLEDs. In 2014 LGD unveiled a 18" transparent OLED prototype, and later in 2016 LGD demonstrated transparent 55" FHD AMOLED display prototypes. These panels are not yet in production, but hopefully LG will start producing these eventually.

LG OLED Light

LG Display is developing and producing OLED lighting panels, and the company is one of the leaders in OLED lighting. The company produces several panels, including flexible OLED panels and high efficiency panels. In December 2017 LG started mass production at its new 5-Gen OLED lighting fab in Gumi, Korea.

LG Chem truly flexible OLED lighting panel photo

The 5-Gen line has an initial capacity of 15,000 substrates per month - about 30 times the capacity of LG's previous 2-Gen line that had a monthly capacity of 4,000 substrates. LG hopes that the new line will enable it to produces OLED lighting panels at a much lower cost (initial estimates suggested a 95% cost reduction!) which it hopes will trigger the widespread adoption of OLED lighting globally.

Further reading

Latest LG OLED news

LGD: OLED TV shipments more than doubles in the first half of 2018

LG Display announced that it sold over 1.3 million OLED TV panels in the first half of 2018 - more than double the number of OLED TV panels sold in the first half of 2017 (0.6 million). LG Display says it aims to improve it production efficiency and sell more 1.6 million OLED TV panels in the second half of 2018.

LG 65OLEDC8 photo

LG Display started producing OLED TVs in 2013 - when it sold 200,000 units. In 2017 it sold 1.7 million panels. LGD aims to finally turn its OLED TV business into profitability in 2018.

Apple ships 3.5 million smartwatches in Q2 2018, holds a 34% market share

Canalys estimates that 10 million smartwatches were shipped in Q2 2018 (the 2nd largest quarter ever after Q4 2017 with 12.5 million). Apple is still the largest smartwatch producer - even though its market share fell to 34% in the second quarter. In 2017 Apple's market share in this market was around 60%.

Smartwatch market share - Apple and others (2017-2018H2, Canalys)

As LG Display is the exclusive supplier of Apple's smartwatch OLED displays, IHS says that LGD is the world's leading AMOLED supplier for smartwatches and wearables. In 2017 LGD shipped 10.64 million such AMOLED displays (a market share of 41.4%). In total 25.7 million smartwatch AMOLEDs were shipped in 2017.

Transparent OLEDs Market Report

CINNO Research details the mobile AMOLED market share by producers

Market analysts from CINNO Research estimate that Samsung Display produced 160.9 million AMOLED displays in H1 2018, which sets SDC's market share in the mobile AMOLED market at 93%. The two other large producers are LG Display and Visionox, both producing 3.5 million panels (2% market share).

AMOLED market share by produces (H1 2018, CINNO)

Both Everdisplay (EDO) and BOE produced 1.7 million panels in the first half of 2018 - or about 1% of the market each. AU Optronics and Tianma produced 0.7 million panels (0.4% market share) and Truly closes the list with a market share of 0.2% (400,000 panels).

LG Display sees its losses increase in Q2 2018, will cut its capex but will not slow its shift towards OLED technologies

LG Display reported its financial results for Q2 2018, with revenues decreasing 1% from the previous quarter and 15% compared to Q2 2017. The company's operating loss increased to $200 million USD. LGD's lower revenues were the result of softer LCD TV panel prices and lower display shipments for smartphones and other devices.

LG Display says that it will cut it 2018-2020 CAPEX by $2.7 billion as a result of these market conditions. This expenditure cut, however, will not effect its shift towards OLED technologies, so it will probably be centered on LCD technologies.

China approves LG Display's Guangzhou OLED TV fab

In July 2017 LG Display announced that it has decided to build a 8.5-Gen (2200x2500) OLED TV production line in Guangzhou. At the end of 2017 LGD got the approval for its new OLED TV fab from the Korean government, and yesterday LG Display announced that the new plant and JV has been approved by the Chinese government.

LG Display's LCD fab in Guangzhou, China

LG Display is also planning a larger fab than what it planned initially - it now says that maximum capacity will be 90,000 monthly 8.5-Gen substrates (2200x2500 mm). Mass production is planned for the second half of 2019, and initial capacity will be 60,000 monthly substrates.

IHS: LGD is the world's leading AMOLED producer for wearables, followed by SDC, EDO, AUO and BOE

IHS says that LG Display is the world's leading AMOLED supplier for smartwatches and wearables. In 2017 LGD shipped 10.64 million AMOLED displays for smartwatches - and it holds a market share of 41.4% (the total market was 25.7 million units in 2017). LG is the exclusive supplier of AMOLED displays for Apple's watch.

Apple Watch Series 2 photo

Samsung Displays is the 2nd wearable AMOLED Producer, with a 34.8% market share. Everdisplay has a 16.2% share and AU Optronics shipped 5.7% of all wearable AMOLED shipments in 2017. BOE is the fifth largest AMOLED wearable maker with a market share of 1.5%.

Aura announce its premium aircraft, with OLED displays

US-based Aura is a new semi-private boutique airline. Aura announced its new aircraft design, and two different classes - first and wave. The wave class includes OLED displays in the windows (Aura says these will be transparent OLEDs).

Aura aircraft OLED ceiling photo

The wave class will also include a large tiled OLED display on the ceiling (as you can see in the image above), which will simulate the sky. These look like LG's commercial OLED TV installation.

Bloomberg: LGD to supply Apple with 2-4 million OLED displays for its 2018 iPhones

In January 2018 it was reported that LG Display is in the final stages of its discussions with Apple, and the Korean OLED maker expects to supply 15-16 million flexible OLEDs to Apple in 2018 (LGD will supply Apple with 6.5" AMOLEDs for its 2018 large iPhone OLED variant).

It was later reported by the Wall Street Journal, however, that LG Display may not be ready to produce these OLED displays in time for Apple. Today Bloomberg reports that LGD will supply OLEDs to Apple this year, but only 2-4 million panels (out of about 70 million panels) - with the rest supplied by Samsung Display of course. Bloomberg did not detail whether LGD will supply Apple with the 6.5" OLEDs or the 5.8" ones.

Korea Time: China is expected to approve LG's Guangzhou OLED TV fab plans

In July 2017 LG Display announced that it has decided to build a 8.5-Gen (2200x2500) OLED TV production line in Guangzhou. The Korean government hesitated whether to approve this plan, as it sees OLED as a strategic technology Korea' economy, but by the end of 2017 LGD got the approval for its new OLED TV fab.

LG Display's LCD fab in Guangzhou, China

LGD is still waiting for an approval from the Chinese authorities, and according to today's Korea Times report, the Chinese government is expected to approve LG's plans. Apparently China hesitated as it aims to help the country's own OLED industry, but it hopes that local companies will benefit with a close partnership with LGD.

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