DSCC report shows that OLED panels are cheaper to make than Mini-LED

Mike Wheatley

A new report from TV industry analyst firm Display Supply Chain Consultants published this week contains the somewhat surprising revelation that OLED TV panels cost less than Mini-LED TV panels, even though the former is widely considered to be a superior and more premium technology.


The revelation is an eye-opener mainly because TV manufacturers that sell both models, such as LG Electronics and Philips, generally price their OLED TVs higher than their Mini-LED counterparts.

DSCC’s latest TV Cost report explains that OLED panels have become cheaper to produce ever since LG Display, which is the notably world’s only supplier of OLED panels for TVs, got its new factory in Guangzhou, China, up and running last year. There, the “lower costs for depreciation, personnel, indirect and SG&A (selling, general and administrative expenses)” help to make the total cost of OLED panel manufacture much lower than it is in LG’s South Korean plants.

In other words, LG Display is taking advantage of the lower wages for workers and reduced administration costs at its Chinese operation to produce its OLED panels at a cheaper rate than other manufacturers can make Mini-LED panels.

LG Display has in any case been making substantial progress on reducing OLED manufacturing costs to make the technology more affordable for consumers. Over the years it has refined its production processes to deliver higher yields at greater scale. There are less defects and waste than before, and that helps it to save a lot of money.

On the other hand, the Mini-LED panels used in LG Electronics’ new QNED TVs and Samsung Electronic's Neo QLED TVs are based on a newer technology, which means there may be some production problems that still need to be ironed out before they can improve yields, DSCC said. In addition, there are other, early-stage costs to be taken into consideration, such as the installation of new manufacturing equipment that must be paid for.

Taking all of this into account, DSCC says that OLED displays are currently just a tad cheaper to make than Mini-LED panels. For example, a 65-inch OLED panel costs around $520 (£370), whereas a Mini-LED panel of the same size will cost $560 (£395).

But this price imbalance won’t last long, as DSCC says manufacturers will soon be able to produce Mini-LED panels for much more cheaply. It predicts that both types of panel will cost exactly $440 to make in 2024, and that just one year later, in 2025, a 65-inch Mini-LED panel will cost $400, versus $420 for an OLED panel.

The good news of course is it means that both TV technologies are going to get cheaper, with the price of OLED panels set to drop by 20% in the next five years, for example. But it remains to be seen if consumers will see an equivalent drop in prices, because there is a lot more that goes into a TV besides the panel – things like processors, speakers, stands, casing and shipping and marketing costs must all be figured into the equation too.