Samsung looks set to finally provide a cheaper range of OLED TVs, after a landmark supply deal that will see LG Display provide millions of OLED panels to Samsung. LG Display is the only maker of the more affordable kind of OLED TV screens, as used in the likes of the LG C3 OLED, so this deal unlocks new options for Samsung.
As reported by Reuters, LG Display expects to ship 2 million panels to Samsung in 2024, with that number doubling in the years after. While the deal is not yet public, various sources seem to have confirmed the news to the publication – and we can’t say we’re surprised.
Samsung is relatively new to world of the best OLED TVs, having entered the market with its high-end QD-OLED screens, which combine an OLED panel with quantum dot (QLED) technology. The results have been stellar, as you can see from our five-star Samsung S95C review, which marries the perfect contrast of OLED displays with the brightness and color range of QLED.
Because of that, Samsung's QD-OLED TVs are very expensive – but this new panel supply agreement should see Samsung start offering a number of cheaper OLED screens, expanding the range beyond a couple of top-tier displays.
It's possible that Samsung could buy LG's top-of-line-line Micro Lens Array OLED panels, as seen in the LG G3 OLED, but that seems unlikely. They cost about the same amount as its own QD-OLED panels. The only real value here is the cheaper OLED options, which Samsung has no way to offer currently.
If the deal is being struck now, that almost certainly means we'll see TVs with these OLED panels in next year – expect CES 2024 to be full of Samsung OLEDs.
A step backwards?
Samsung had always railed against OLED, declaring its own QLED tech to be superior – even its QD-OLED models use a particular kind of OLED technology, with a blue light base mixed with quantum dots, so it could still claim a difference from standard OLED screens.
But part of Samsung’s business success over the years has been its ability to cater to any price bracket – from bargain LCDs to retina-burningly-bright mini-LED screens such as the Samsung QN95C… and OLED has proved itself as a winner in today’s TV market. The tech is all over our list of the best TVs, and has gained a reputation (whether you agree with it or not) for being the premium TV tech to have. If Samsung wants to remain as the biggest TV company in the world, it needs to embrace OLED.
But while Samsung’s QD-OLED screens have a clear distinction from regular OLED TVs, it’s a little hard to see how cheaper models would differentiate themselves, or why shoppers would opt for Samsung over one of the many excellent LG OLED TVs. Especially if Samsung still won't embrace Dolby Vision HDR, which is an especially strong inclusion on OLED TVs.
We’ll have to wait and see what Samsung’s strategy is here – whether it’s aggressive pricing or simply trust in the Samsung brand to push its OLED displays. And what will this mean for Samsung Mini-LED models? All the rules are out the window suddenly.