Samsung announces OLED TVs

In the last few years, tech giant Samsung has been exclusively producing LCD panels under their brand name “QLED”. Earlier this week, the company confirmed that it would re-enter the OLED market with QD-OLED, which is likely to compete with its rival LG.

This month, Samsung Display, a subsidiary of the Samsung Group, decided to discontinue production of its LCD panels on a large scale. While 250,000 panels every month were produced in South Korea so far, Samsung Display is now putting the production of one entire assembly line to a halt. This means 90,000 units less per month. Another assembly line is to be cut by 30,000 units in September, as reported by the Korea Herald.

QLED and OLED in one screen

The decommissioned assembly line is now to be converted for the production of QD-OLED panels. These are hybrid panels that use OLEDs and quantum dots and no longer require the use of backlighting. Instead, QD-OLED screens will use blue emitting OLEDS. The quantum dots then split the emitting light into red and green. This results in the RGB color space. According to Business Korea, mass production is due to start in 2021. The investment amount is about 2.15 to 2.58 billion US dollars.

Samsung will produce these panels completely independently. Although Sony, Philips, Panasonic and LG also produce OLED TVs, all large OLED panels come from LG itself.

This measure is one way to maintain Samsung’s leadership position in the high-end display market, says an insider according to the Korea Herald. The production of LCD panels has become less profitable due to competition from Chinese electronics companies and the resulting oversupply.

During production, the focus particularly lies on 55″ and 65″ screens. LG has already reacted and plans to produce even larger OLED TVs in the future. The aim is to produce TVs beyond the 77 inch mark. LG’s 2019 premium product is the LG W9, an OLED television with its own soundbar and a maximum screen size of 77 inches.

Samsung also manufactures OLED panels, but only small and medium-sized screens for smartphones and tablets. One of Samsung’s customers is Apple, who recently used Samsung OLED displays on their iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max smartphones.

iPhone XS Max
It says Apple on the back, but the OLED screens for all iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max actually come from competitor Samsung. Photo: Apple Inc.

Differences between QD-OLED, OLED, and QLED

Self emitting LEDs
Quantum Dot layer
Viewing angle
High brightness
True blacks
Color accuracy

What happens to MicroLEDs by Samsung?

In January 2018, Samsung presented a 75 inch MicroLED display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The question of whether production of MicroLEDs will be postponed by QD-OLEDs is now rightly raised. A study by the market research institute IHS Markit assumes that MicroLEDs will not reach market maturity until 2024. IHS Markit expects total sales of up to 16 million MicroLED televisions by 2026.

Samsung The Wall
Samsung unveils their first MicroLED for commercial use at CES 2018 in Las Vegas. Photo: Samsung

MicroLEDs are microscopically small LEDs that, like OLEDs, emit light themselves. This eliminates the need for backlighting, as with QD-OLED. In addition, there no longer is a screen bezel and the screen can simply be expanded using connectors.

For business customers there is already a MicroLED display, fittingly referred to as “The Wall”. This MicroLED screen with Full HD resolution is ideal for large commercial advertising spaces, for example in shopping malls.

It now remains to be seen whether QD-OLED panels will slow down this development. It might be possible for MicroLED to be marketed as a premium product in the first few years after market maturity and for QD-OLEDs from Samsung to be a cheaper alternative.

This post is also available in: Deutsch

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