Samsung Reportedly Ordering OLED Panels from Rival LG Display

According to the reports from MTN, ETNews, and Seoul Economic Daily, Samsung Electronics is close to ordering millions of OLED TV panels from LG Display. The reports convey that officials recently met to agree to the deal. In the second half of this year, 1 million panels will be supplied to Samsung. Next year, the number will increase to 4 million.

If the deal is sealed, this would be the first time that Samsung will be buying OLED panels from its South Korean rival. TVs that come with LG’s OLED panels are consistently rated amongst the best. Over half a decade ago, Samsung exited the OLED TV market. Currently, LG Display supplies OLED panels to a variety of TV manufacturers like Sony, Vizio, and Hisense, and LG Electronics.

In 2020, LG Display announced an expansion of its OLED production lines. According to market research firm TrendForce, LG’s OLED panel production capacity will increase further in the second quarter of this year. MTN reported that this year, LG Display’s total OLED TV panel production capacity is around 8 million units.

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Samsung ordering OLED panels from LG display indicates Samsung is shifting away from LCD panels. Currently, Samsung TV lineups come with LCD panels. Even Samsung’s QLED TVs use LCD panels behind that quantum dot layer.

In 2020, Samsung Display announced that it would stop producing LCD panels due to stiff price competition from Chinese competitors. Later, Samsung postponed this shutdown because the pandemic led to a rise in demand. Last year, the price of LCD panels fell significantly but MTN reports that the trend is reversing this year. MTN reported that LCD panels are getting expensive so Samsung is exploring alternatives.

Though Samsung Electronics is planning to buy OLED panels from LG Display, its own display division is probably working on Quantum Dot OLED (QD-OLED) TV panels. South Korean publication The Elec reported this week that Samsung Display is currently working on a prototype TV using Quantum Dot OLED technology. The prototype will be sent to potential customers like Samsung Electronics after its production in June. Due to low brightness, QD-OLED panel samples sent to Samsung Electronics in January were reportedly criticized.

It should be noted that QD-OLED is not the one and only new display technology on Samsung’s horizon because recently, Samsung commercialized a new display type dubbed Micro LED. Micro LED uses an array of tiny self-emissive LEDs to produce an image. Samsung released Micro LED technology in a series of ultra-high-end TVs. However, these Micro LEDs are very expensive and analysts believe Micro LEDs will take years to be affordable enough for mass-market sets. Another report suggests Samsung is working on self-emissive quantum-dot TVs.

In an interview, Jong-Hee Han of Samsung Electronics, who oversees the company’s display division dismissed the reports as rumors when asked about the potential deal.