Overlooked war: QLED TVs are winning

Production technologies for TV panels are undergoing a transformation period right now, comparable to

with the transition from screens with electron beamtubes to the screens on liquid crystals. Two decades ago, LCD screens were rivaled by plasma screens, which gave a better picture at a higher cost and a burn-out effect, reducing the quality (brightness and contrast) of the image in static scenes and fragments (TV channel logos, on-screen menus, etc.). As a result, LCD models completely defeated plasma, but they were replaced by new technologies that are developing in parallel and using a new type of semiconductor: OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) and quantum dots (inorganic nanocrystals). The second technology is actively promoted under the name QLED (Quantum LED) by Samsung, which plays a significant role in the global TV market. Therefore, for simplicity, we call all such TVs QLED.


The ability of organic elements toelectroluminescence (the property of emitting light under the influence of electric current) was discovered in the 50s of the last century. In 2014, three Japanese scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics for "the invention of efficient blue LEDs, which led to the emergence of bright and energy-saving white light sources." By that time, OLED screens using organic materials had already been used in mobile phone screens, but for the production of televisions, the diagonal of which screens have continuously grown over the years, this breakthrough was needed. The first OLED screens for monitors appeared in 2010, these were exhibition samples. Commercial sales of the first OLED TVs began around 2012.

The advantages of OLED TVs over LCD modelseasy to see with the naked eye: less panel thickness, lower weight, higher brightness and contrast, the ability to create flexible panels, instant response and large viewing angles. At the same time, manufacturers of such screens encountered problems that are less apparent in smartphones. Like plasma screens, OLED panels are subject to a “burnout” effect: the higher the brightness is set, the lower the lifetime of the LEDs. In addition, there is an imbalance between the lifespan of green, red and blue LEDs, the lifetime of blue is several times lower (note the slide from the Sumitomo presentation) and is several thousand hours, while green is tens of thousands.


The term was introduced by Samsung, which did notjust for the love of marketing. The manufacturer’s managers were not satisfied with the quality of OLED-panels for TVs, which had a very high rejection rate, which sharply increased their final cost. True to its traditions of quality laid down by the company's founder, Samsung decided to look for other solutions. The way out was the screens using quantum dot technology. They were first introduced by Samsung in 2016 and I remember how the picture they displayed impressed me, similar to the brightness of OLED. Although it was still talking about another technology. A year later, the company introduced the term QLED, which made it much easier to popularize, if not the technology itself, which is quite difficult to understand without going into physics, then a new generation of televisions that are a head taller than traditional LCD TVs and directly compete with technology already understood and familiar to consumers. OLED devoid of its shortcomings. Which, by the way, is relevant for the current state of the market, where the HDR standard is used in TVs, which delights consumers. And where HDR is, there is increased brightness of the image, and, accordingly, the probability of reducing the service life of the OLED screen is higher.

What say sales

Research of the global TV market is conducted by the company IHS Markit, the first five TV manufacturers today look like this:

Top 5 global TV market in money according to IHS for 1 quarter of 2019

1Q 2018
2Q 2018
3Q 2018
4Q 2018
1Q 2019






If you look at the market in terms of the new technologies used (OLED and QLED inevitably generate more money for manufacturers), the picture in 2019 sheds light on the state of war:

TV sales in thousands of pieces according to IHS for Q1 2019

1Q 2018
2Q 2018
3Q 2018
4Q 2018
1Q 2019

1 104.3


That is, if in the first half of 2018OLED TVs sold more, then in Q3, QLED TVs outpaced them in sales. In just one year, following the results of Q1, QLED sales increased 2.5 times, breaking the bar of one million sold TV sets in Q4 2018.

In the dry residue

In the TV market, followed by the wrongclosely following, for example, the smartphone market, there was a quiet technological revolution, to which no one paid attention. The QLED technology, unnoticed by others, has become a determining direction for the development of television panels. And while, of course, no one will write off OLED-TVs - this technology also does not stand still, and manufacturers are constantly increasing the lifespan of OLED-panels. And in general, with OLED “burnout”, not everything is so simple - our colleagues from the RTINGS website have been testing the OLED burnout for more than a year, updating the reports weekly. In their test, the TV has already worked 5,000 hours, which is equivalent to 5 years of TV operation, 5 hours a day. And the results are completely ambiguous, leaving both a reason for optimism and room for doubt. But it is QLED technology that seems to be winning the global market, not least because of the marketing power of Samsung and the best premise for the life cycle of TVs. Maybe someday, in a few years, we will nostalgically recall this story, along with the history of the war VHS and Betacam, HD DVD and Blu-ray or MP3 and MiniDisc