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Samsung's plan to build cheaper OLEDs with rival LG's panels has hit the rocks

What Hi-Fi? 29/07/2022 Mary Stone
Samsung S95B © Provided by What Hi-Fi? Samsung S95B

Earlier this year, we reported rumours that Samsung was getting cold feet over a potential new range of Samsung OLED TVs built with LG panels. It now seems as if the wedding is officially off after LG has confirmed that negotiations have come to an impasse.

During a Q2 earnings conference call this week, Kim Sung-hyun, CFO at LG Display, is reported by Korea Bizwire to have said, "Our new client (Samsung Electronics) had sought to use our OLED panels. While there had been some progress, the process has come to a halt at the moment."

The formally anti-OLED Samsung was initially tipped to buy 2 million of LG's cheapest M-grade W-OLED panels capable of a maximum brightness of around 150 nits with a planned release of 1.5 million Samsung OLED TVs to the market in June 2022. These models were expected to sit below Samsung's current flagship QD-OLED TVs made with in-house panels.

But back in May, reports suggested that Samsung was starting to lose interest in the idea. Meanwhile, claims that the tech giant had "asked LG Display to co-develop W-OLED technologies going forward" may have further hampered negotiations. 

Discussions between the two rivals appear to have been problematic from the get-go, with Samsung Electronics initially asking LG Display if it could produce a cheaper version of its premium R panel, which LG declined, citing its existing contracts to supply full price R grade panels to Sony and LG Electronics.

Samsung's determination to maximise the profitability of its return on a potential OLED venture could be influenced by the global downturn in demand for TVs since COVID-19 restrictions eased, with reports that the company has been struggling to sell its latest LCD TVs.

LG has been using White OLED panels in some of its best TVs for over a decade. The technology uses an extra white subpixel layer to boost brightness in addition to RGB filters. Samsung, however, has always been vocal in its criticism of OLED TVs, highlighting their potential for burn-in and the fact they're not as bright as LCDs. Though the company recently had an OLED epiphany and has begun producing its own QD-OLED range (which it confusingly brands as simply OLED), which will expand to include 49-inch and 77-inch models next year.

However, this may not be the end of the road for the uneasy collaboration between the two TV superpowers, as sources have indicated to Korea Bizwire that there is a potential that negotiations may restart soon. 

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