Samsung reportedly inks deal to buy OLED TV panels from rival LG Display

Samsung Electronics is close to ordering millions of OLED TV panels from LG Display, according to new reports from MTN, ETNews, and Seoul Economic Daily. Officials reportedly met recently to agree to the deal, which would see 1 million panels supplied to Samsung in the second half of this year, rising to 4 million panels next year. If the deal is finalized, it would be the first time Samsung has bought OLED panels from its South Korean rival and market leader. TVs with LG’s OLED panels consistently rate amongst the best in professional reviews.

Samsung exited the OLED TV market over half a decade ago. Today, LG Display supplies OLED panels to a variety of TV manufacturers including Sony, Vizio, and Hisense, as well as LG Electronics. Last year LG Display announced an expansion of its OLED production lines, and market research firm TrendForce says its production capacity is due to further increase in the second quarter of this year. MTN reports that LG Display’s total OLED TV panel production capacity is around 8 million units this year.

Today’s reports are the latest indication of Samsung’s shift away from LCD panels, which it currently uses across its television lineup. Even its QLED TVs still use LCD panels behind that quantum dot layer. Last year Samsung Display announced it would stop producing LCD panels in the face of stiff price competition from Chinese competitors, however it reportedly postponed this shutdown after the pandemic led to a rise in demand.

While falling LCD panel prices were believed to be behind last year’s move, MTN reports that the trend is reversing this year. LCD panels are reportedly growing more expensive, prompting Samsung to explore alternatives.

While Samsung Electronics plans to buy panels from LG Display, its own display division is believed to be working on Quantum Dot OLED (QD-OLED) TV panels. A report from South Korean publication The Elec this week says Samsung Display is currently working on a prototype TV using the technology, which will be sent to potential customers like Samsung Electronics after it’s produced in June. However, QD-OLED panel samples sent to Samsung Electronics in January was reportedly criticized for their low brightness.

QD-OLED isn’t the only new display technology on Samsung’s horizon. It recently commercialized a new display type called Micro LED, which uses an array of tiny self-emissive LEDs to produce an image. Although Samsung has released the technology in a series of ultra-high end TVs, it’s believed to be years away from being affordable enough for mass-market sets. There are also reports that the company is working on self-emissive quantum-dot TVs.

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