The cost of the biggest and best OLED TVs could be on its way down thanks to an expanding partnership between Samsung and LG Display. Building on the existing deal with LG that was inked earlier this year, where it would provide two million 77-inch and 83-inch OLED (WOLED) panels to Samsung Electronics, reports have surfaced that another 77-inch model could be in the pipeline.
According to industry insiders that spoke with Business Korea, Samsung filed the paperwork for regulatory approval of a new 77-inch OLED TV on July 22 that isn't QD-OLED and is instead reportedly using an LG OLED panel.
The news follows just one month after Samsung registered a new 83-inch OLED, again featuring LG Displays' panels. It's also different to the 77-inch OLED model that was registered in March.
Although Samsung and LG's current partnership focuses on OLED panels, the deal is also expected to expand to LCD displays too, Business Korea reports. So, what does this mean for the best Samsung TVs going forward? Here's what you need to know.
Why isn't Samsung using Samsung OLEDs?
It is: Samsung's 77-inch TVs have used panels from Samsung Display, the firm's display panel division. But it has encountered shortages, so Samsung turned to LG Display to fill the gap. As an industry insider told Business Korea: "The supply volume from LG Display is reportedly a small amount, but for LG Display it is a positive signal that LG Display has expanded its supply lineup by selling TV panels to Samsung Electronics.”
Is the deal just about OLEDs?
At the moment, yes. But it's likely to expand to include LCD panels too. That's because Samsung is currently being sued by China's largest display manufacturer, BOE, which is suing both Samsung Display and Samsung Electronics for alleged patent infringement. BOE is currently a supplier to Samsung, and under the circumstances Samsung understandably wants to change that.
According to the Business Korea report, Samsung intends to replace BOE with LG Display and Sharp affiliate SDP. That's good news for LG Display, which currently provides around seven percent of Samsung's LCD panels; that figure could rise to 17 percent, which would translate to roughly 1 trillion won in revenue.
What does this mean for TV buyers?
It could mean cheaper OLED TVs from Samsung, which in turn could help drive OLED TV prices down as rivals compete. While Samsung has focused on very impressive QD-OLED panels, LG's WRGB OLEDs (which produce a whiter light than the blue of QD-OLED and use colour filters instead of quantum dots) are considerably cheaper.
So, if Samsung's buying more panels from LG Display, as seems to be the plan, that increases the options for its TV range – particularly at the more affordable end of the market. More choice and lower prices sounds like a win for everybody.
When will LG panels start showing up in Samsung TVs?
Numbers are still relatively small but if Samsung is filing for regulatory approval for multiple TVs in Korea now, that could mean that we'll see the models on shelves in the US and Europe later this year or early next year. We could also see more Samsung LCD TVs with LG panels this year too, although they're likely to take a little longer to arrive.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.