Article last updated on: Sep 05, 2018

What is an OLED TV?

An OLED TV screen uses a new display technology called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). OLED technology enables displays that are brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than either LCD or Plasma displays. Simply put, OLED TVs deliver the best picture quality ever!

LG EG9600 photo

OLED TV technology

OLED displays are made by placing thin films of organic (carbon based) materials between two conductors. When electrical current is applied, light is emitted. OLED displays are emissive and unlike LCDs, do not require a backlight (unlike LCDs). OLED TV panels offers several advantages over LCDs:

  • Faster refresh rate, better contrast (true blacks) and better color reproduction
  • Better form factor - OLED enables much thinner panels
  • Better viewing angle - almost 180 degrees
  • Efficiency - in an OLED display, only the lit pixels draw power, unlike in an LCD.)
  • OLED panels can potentially be made flexible and/or transparent - think rollable TVs!

OLED TVs on the market - what can you buy today?

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's 2018 OLED TV lineup include the flagship Wallpaper OLEDW8 (which attaches to the wall using magnets), the high-end OLED-on-glass OLEDG8 and OLEDE8, the basic OLEDC8 and the entry level OLEDB8. All of these TVs are now shipping globally.

In August 2013, Samsung launched an OLED TV as well, the KN55S9C, that used Samsung's own OLED TV panels. Samsung stopped producing and marketing the S9C OLED TVs soon afterwards and is currently focused on quantum-dot enhanced LCDs (and perhaps Micro-LED will be Samsung's future TV display technology of choice).

Direct Emission vs WRGB

The most straightforward OLED architecture uses 3 color OLED sub-pixels (Red, Green and Blue) to create each 'pixel'. This is referred to as a direct emission OLED, and is the design used in mobile OLED displays (for example those in Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Apple's iPhone X.

For its OLED TVs, however, LG Display is using a different architecture, called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) which uses four white OLED subpixels (each created by using both blue and yellow OLED emitters) with color filters on top (RBG and W). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) was found to be easier to scale-up for large-area OLED production, although it suffers from lower efficiency and more complicated design.

Rollable and transparent OLED televisions?

Like we said before, OLEDs can be made flexible, or transparent. Both LG and Samsung demonstrated large 55" transparent and mirror OLED prototypes, and LGD already demonstrated 77" rollable and transparent OLED panels, which it plans to commercialize by 2020. These kinds of technologies are exciting - and while it will be some years before they reach the market, they could eventually redefine the TV of the future.

LGD 18'' rollable OLED prototype (CES 2016)
Samsung Display 55'' transparent OLED photo

Further reading

Latest OLED TV news

BOE demonstrates its first ink-jet printed OLED TV prototype

BOE is hosting its Global Innovation Partner Conference 2018 (BOE IPC-2018, which invited experts from all over the world to see BOE's latest technology and future trends.

BOE 55'' printed OLED TV prototype (IPC-2018)

During the event, BOE unveiled a ink-jet printed 55" UHD OLED TV prototype. This is the first time that BOE demonstrated an ink-jet printed TV (in May 2018 BOE unveiled 5.5" FHD flexible AMOLED which was also produced using a printing process).

Panasonic demonstrates a transparent OLED TV prototype in Shanghai

Panasonic is demonstrating a new transparent OLED TV "Smart Glass" prototype at the China International Import Expo tradeshow in Shanghai. We do not have any specification of this panel.

In September 2017 Panasonic demonstrated a 55" 4K transparent OLED, this could be the same display but we are not sure. We do not know who's the producer of the panel itself, but it is likely to be LG Display.

Graphene for Displays and Lighting Market Report

JOLED to demonstrate a 55" ink-jet printed OLED TV next month

Japan-based printed OLED developer JOLED announced that it will demonstrate a 55" 4K printed OLED TV at Finetech Japan 2018 (December 5-7 2018). JOLED will also introduce its proprietary printed OLED manufacturing technology. A few weeks ago JOLED announced that it has signed an agreement to develop, manufacture, and sell printing equipment together with Panasonic and Screen Finetech.

JOLED applications slide (AMFPD2018)

This is the first time JOLED will show a 55" OLED prototype (in July 2018 the company did include TVs in its future roadmap). JOLED tells us that it has no plans to produce large size OLEDs at this stage - and this TV is on display just to demonstrate JOLED's printing technology.

LG to bring a rollable OLED TV and a foldable OLED phone to CES 2019

LG Electronics demonstrated its 65" rollable OLED TV prototype in 2018, showing how such a display can be used to create a TV that rolls into its base.

LGD 65'' rollable OLED TV, CES 2018

Engadget says that LG has plans to showcase a rollable TV again in CES 2019 (January 9-11). Engadget says that according to its information the rollable TV will take "center stage" in next year's event - which may point to the fact that LG is close to commercializing such a TV. In 2017 LGD did say it plans to bring rollable OLED TVs to market by 2020.

LG - we sold over 3 million OLED TVs since launching the first one in 2013

LG Electronics said that it has sold over 3 million OLED TVs, since launching its first one in 2013 - in September 2018 it has shipped over 3.2 millionth units, in fact.

LG OLED65C6P photo

LG Display is increasing its production capacity quickly, and so LG Electronics can increase its TV shipments (although today there are over a dozen other companies that use LGD's OLED TV panels, including Sony, Philips, Panasonic and Toshiba). In 2018 alone LGD expects to sell a total of 2.9 million OLED TV panels (up from 1.7 million in 2017).

Digitimes details Samsung's QD-OLED TV production plans and equipment

Samsung Display is developing hybrid QD-OLED TV technology, and according to estimates, the company aims to begin trial production in 2019. It is also estimated that Samsung has several challenges to overcome, but according to new reports from Digitimes, Samsung is aiming to start installing equipment for the new fab as early as December 2018.

QD-OLED stack scheme (DSCC, Oct-2018)

The new fab will begin operation in the second half of 2019 - pilot production at first which will be expanded to full scale mass production. The new fab will be built in Samsung's L8 LCD production line in Asan, and will take over one of the two lines currently in operation at the fab. Samsung's initial production capacity will be around 25,000 monthly G8 substrates.

LG Display: our OLED TV business has finally turned profitable

LG Display announced its financial results for Q3 2018 - with revenues of $5.3 billion (up 9% from Q2 2018). Net income in the quarter was $15.8 million (up from a loss of $264 million in Q2 2018).

LG 65OLEDC8 photo

LG Display announced that its OLED TV business has finally turned profitable. LGD started producing OLED TVs in 2013 and it has been incurring losses for a long time. In 2018 LGD expects to sell a total of 2.9 million OLED TV panels (up from 1.7 million in 2017).

Reports from Korea estimate SDC's QD-OLED investments at $8.8 billion between 2019 and 2021

In April 2018 Samsung announced it is developing QD-OLEDs (hybrid Quantum Dots - OLED) TVs. Later reports suggested that the company is building its first production line, with aims to begin pilot production in 2019.

Samsung QD-OLED structure (UBI Research)

According to a new report from Korea, if Samsung's initial QD-OLED development is successful, it plans to convert an existing LCD line (SDC's 8-Gen L8-1 line) to QD-OLED production in 2020. Samsung's projected investment in its QD-OLED production will exceed $8.8 billion between 2019 and 2021.

DSCC: the OLED material market will reach $2 billion in 2022

DSCC has updated its OLED material market forecast, saying that it expects the market to grow from $829 million in 2017 to $2.04 billion in 2022 (a 20% annual CAGR).

OLED material revenue forecast by application (2016-2022, DSCC)

DSCC recently revised its OLED market estimation - as it lowered its forecast of mobile application demand while increasing its outlook for OLED TV capacity. Total OLED capacity is still expected to increase almost 4X from 2017 to 2022. DSCC expects OLED TV material revenues to surpass mobile OLED revenues by 2022.

DSCC: Samsung to begin pilot QD-OLED production in 2019

DSCC estimates that Samsung will begin pilot production of QD-OLEDs in 2019, with a capacity of 5,000 monthly 8.5-Gen substrates. If this is successful, Samsung will double the capacity in 2020 and add a further 30,000 yearly substrates in 2021 and again in 2022. Material revenues for Samsung's QD-OLED TVs will reach $56 million in 2022.

Material revenue forecast for QD-OLED TVs (DSCC, 2016-2022)

DSCC admits, though, that as Samsung faces several technical challenges before it could launch commercial QD-OLED TVs, its forecast could be way off - there's a good chance that SDC will cancel the project, or it could increase capacity at a much faster rate than DSCC estimates and even scale-up production to 10.5-Gen.