Article last updated on: Nov 23, 2017

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 2017, only LG Display produces commercial OLED TV panels (China's BOE is initiating small-scale production). LG Electronics has several OLED TV models on the market - ranging in size from 55" to 77". LG's latest range of OLED TVs all support 4K (UHD) resolution and HDR. Reviews of OLED TVs are terrific, and most experts and consumers agree that OLED TVs are the best TVs ever produced - with virtually perfect image quality.

LG Display also supplies panels to other companies - including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others. The following table shows some of the prominent 2017 OLED TVs available in the US:



LG OLEDB7 OLED TV photo
Entry level 55"/65" ($1,999 / $2,799)
LG OLEDG7 photo
High end 65"/77" ($4,999 / $9,999)
LG OLEDW7 Photo
Wallpaper 65"/77" ($7,999 / $30,000)

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

UBI: 440 million AMOLEDs were shipped in 2017, the market will reach almost a billion units by 2022

UBI Research estimates that AMOLED shipments reached 440 million units in 2017 (up 13.6% from 2016), with revenues reaching $27.1 billion (up 62.3% from 2016). Only yesterday did DSCC release its own estimates of $23.2 billion in revenues for the AMOLED market in 2017.

AMOLED market forecast (2018 - 2022, UBI Research)

The AMOLED market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.5% to reach almost a billion units in 2022. Revenues will grow faster at 22% and reach $80.5 billion in 2022.

LG Display orders the deposition equipment for its Gen-10.5 line in Paju (P10)

Towards the end of 2015 LG Display announced that it plans to build a new OLED fab (P10) in Paju in a $8.7 billion investment to produce both mid-sized flexible OLED and large-sized OLED TV panels. LGD considered for a while whether this new fab will be based on Gen-8 production or Gen-10.

LG Display production hub in Paju

According to a new report from Korea, LGD has ordered its first batch of deposition equipment for the P10 line, which will be Gen-10.5 (2940 x 3370 mm). The first line will have a production capacity of 30,000 substrates per month, which will greatly increase LGD's total OLED TV production capacity. LGD finished the construction of the building and the fab is expected to be complete in the first half of 2018.

Transparent OLEDs Market Report

Philips announces its 2018 OLED TV lineup

Philips (TPVision) announced its OLED TV lineup for 2018. Philips will offer three models, the OLED 973, OLED 873 and OLED 803. All of these 2018 TVs will be pretty similar, and all will feature 4K WRGB OLED panels, Philips' P5 "Perfect-Picture" processor, 3-sided Ambilight, HDR10, HLG and HDR10+ (will arrive in Q2 2018), Quad-core Android TV platform with Google Assistant and 16GB of memory.

Philips OLED 973 photo

The main difference is the TV design, and the 973 will also offer a 60W soundbar. The 973 and 873 will come in 65", while the 803 will also have a 55" option. The OLED 973 and OLED 873 will launch in Q1 2018, and the OLED 803 will arrive in the summer. Philips did not yet disclose the pricing of its new OLED TVs.

UBI sees AMOLED production capacity growing at a 48% CAGR from 2018 to 2020

UBI Research estimates that the global AMOLED production capacity will grow at a CAGR of 48% from 2018 to 2020. Overall production size will grow from 13 million square meters in 2017 to 40 million square meters in 2020.

AMOLED production capacity (2017-2020, UBI)

Small and medium-sized displays will continue to lead the AMOLED market, with 32 million square meters in 2020 (compared to 8.4 million in 2020). Samsung Display will continue to dominate but its market share will drop to around 45% in 2020 (down from around 90% in 2017).

OLED Ink-jet printing market situation, early 2018

Many OLED producers believe that Ink-Jet printing of OLED emissive materials is the best way to achieve lower-cost OLED TV production, and to enable OLEDs to compete in the medium part of the TV market. Ink-Jet printing is an efficient process (less material waste compared to evaporation) and it can be very quick as well. The main drawbacks of inkjet are the limited resolution and the need for soluble emissive materials which are less efficient compared to evaporation ones.

A Kateeva OLED ink-jet printing system

These challenges are being overcome, and it seems that at least four groups (in Korea, Japan and China) are charging forward towards mass production of ink-jet printed OLEDs. Ink-jet printer makers and soluble material suppliers are also optimistic ink-jet printing commercialization will soon be here as the material performance gap is diminishing.

Skyworth to introduce AI chip powered OLED TVs in 2018 and utilize flexible OLEDs in new appliances

China-based Skyworth announced that it will introduce new AI-chip powered OLED TVs in 2018. The company says that these new chips will "leverage artificial intelligence to search, identify and refactor images as a means to accurately enhance image quality and restore the immersive aspect, delivering a more lifelike viewing experience".

Skyworth has been producing OLED TVs since 2014, when it introduced its first OLED TV, the Tianchi E980. Since then it released several such TVs, the latest one being the W9 'wallpaper' OLED TV introduced in 2017.

Here is LGD's rollable 65" OLED TV prototype

LG Display is demonstrating its latest prototype at CES, a 65" rollable OLED TV that can roll inside its base when not in use. The video below shows this display in action, although we cannot see how the display actually rolls inside the box which is a shame:

Remember that this is still just a prototype display, and it's likely that LGD has no immediate plans to actually release such a display. Last year LGD said it plans to bring rollable OLED TVs to market by 2020.

HiSense to release its first OLED TV in H1 2018

HiSense (Australia) announced that it plans to introduce its first OLED TV in the first half of 2018. The company did not disclose any details beyond that announcement, though.

HiSense 2014 OLED TV prototype

Hisense has been demonstrating and promising OLED TVs for a long time (in 2014 the company demonstrated its first 55" OLED TV prototype, and in 2011 the company aimed to release a 15-inch OLED "TV"). But it's likely that now HiSense is indeed ready to release a real OLED TV to the market.