New reports from Korea says that LG and Samsung have made an agreement over OLED TV screens, with LG supplying Samsung with a large number of panels in the future. This would be a major change for Samsung – the company abandoned OLED for TVs almost 10 years ago to focus on QLED LCD tech.
The reports from MTN, ETNews and Seoul Economic Daily (via FlatpanelsHD) say that an agreement has been reached (though not yet signed and confirmed) for LG Display to supply Samsung Electronics with 1 million units in 2021, and 5 million units in 2022 – which suggests quite a serious investment in OLED TV models.
LG Display is effectively the world's only large-scale maker of OLED TV panels, supplying every OLED set currently available, so it's no surprise that this is where Samsung has turned if it's considering OLED TVs.
The reports say that a key driver is the soaring prices of LCD panels over the last year, with the average price of a 55-inch LCD panel nearly doubling. At the same time, LG has finally been able to bring online its new generation of OLED manufacturing plants, bringing down the cost of panels. That especially applies to 48-inch and 77-inch sizes, but also appears to make a difference across the board – LG itself is introducing its cheapest-ever TV this year, in the form of the LG A1.
Regular TV tech watchers might be wondering if this is anything to do with the QD-OLED tech that Samsung is known to be working on, which is basically a hybrid of Samsung's QLED colour filter tech in front of a colour-less OLED backlight. It seems unlikely based on these reports, because their suggestion is that LG Display will supply complete panels, with colour filtering already built in.
With Samsung's new 'Neo QLED' Mini-LED tech blowing us away in our Samsung QN95A review, it's likely that Samsung will want to stick with that in its high-end sets, where it can keep marketing its superiority over OLED for brightness. But with the price of OLED coming down, perhaps Samsung will start using it in TVs that come in slightly under the Neo QLED sets for price.
Or perhaps it will all come to nothing. Samsung's had no trouble making some of the best TVs on the planet without OLED, and maybe these price worries can be sorted out… but we do love a good story about a turnaround. Maybe Samsung will finally support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos at the same time! We can but dream.