Samsung rumored to buy millions of OLED TV panels from LG
Samsung has been vocal against OLED TV panels for quite a few years now, specifically citing the propensity for screen burn. The Korean giant does, however, produce small AMOLED screens for smartphones and laptopes, which were prone to the burn-in effect in the early days of the Galaxy S lineup, and the company surely was aware about it, so it is a bit odd to see it reject OLED TV displays for more than 5 years. The pandemic leading into the global chip shortages really forced the hand of many companies to adapt to the market climate, and, despite its size, Samsung is no exception here, as it is now rumored to purchase millions of OLED TV panels from rival LG.
LCD displays are not cutting it anymore for Samsung due to aggressive price competition from Chinese panel producers. Most of its non-QuantumDot LCD panel production facilities are already closed or repurposed for other display technologies. Samsung’s original plan was to make the jump to true QuantumDot displays with self-emissive pixels, but this technology seems to be taking too long to develop. Samsung is now looking to push its microLED tech, yet this is still nowhere near mass consumer pricing. As an alternative, Samsung Display (the display-producing branch of Samsung Electronics) has been working on the QD-OLED technology that essentially combines QuantumDot films with organic LEDs to produce a brighter panel with richer colors, which is less prone to burn-in than the traditional OLEDs developed by LG. The first batch of QD-OLEDs was supposed to be ready this year, but, according to The Elec, it looks like Samsung Electronics was disappointed with the low brightness demonstrated by the early prototypes evaluated this January.
New reports from MTN point out that the chip shortages are causing raised LCD production costs, which seem too high for Samsung. High enough that they exceed the OLED panel prices offered by LG, so Samsung is trying to make some smart expenditures in these trying times, possibly looking to strike a deal with its rival. MTN, ETNews and Seoul Economic Daily claim that a Samsung-LG deal is to be signed soon, and would see 1 million panels supplied to Samsung in 2H21, plus an additional 4 million panel by the end of 2022.
LG is currently the largest OLED panel maker in the world, with an estimated production capacity of over 8 million units per year. It is also supplying other big companies like Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Vizio and Hisense. Sony and Panasonic even order custom LG OLED panels that are combined with proprietary technology to improve certain aspects, especially for the premium lineups. Samsung may very well adopt a similar strategy. Nevertheless, the situation feels quite ironic for Samsung, since it is still dismissing all the aforementioned reports as pure rumors.