Samsung Display will stop producing LCD panels by the end of the year. The display maker currently runs two LCD production lines in South Korea and two in China, according to Reuters. Samsung tells The Verge that the decision will accelerate the company’s move towards quantum dot displays, while ZDNet reports that its future quantum dot TVs will use OLED rather than LCD panels.
The decision comes as LCD panel prices are said to be falling worldwide. Last year, Nikkei reported that Chinese competitors are ramping up production of LCD screens, even as demand for TVs weakens globally. Samsung Display isn’t the only manufacturer to have closed down LCD production lines. LG Display announced it would be ending LCD production in South Korea by the end of the 2020 as well.
Last October Samsung Display announced a five-year 13.1 trillion won (around $10.7 billion) investment in quantum dot technology for its upcoming TVs, as it shifts production away from LCDs. However, Samsung’s existing quantum dot or QLED TVs still use LCD panels behind their quantum dot layer. Samsung is also working on developing self-emissive quantum-dot diodes, which would remove the need for a separate layer.
Samsung’s investment in OLED TVs has also been reported by The Elec. The company is no stranger to OLED technology for handhelds, but it exited the large OLED panel market half a decade ago, allowing rival LG Display to dominate ever since.
Although Samsung Display says that it will be able to continue supplying its existing LCD orders through the end of the year, there are questions about what Samsung Electronics, the largest TV manufacturer in the world, will use in its LCD TVs going forward. Samsung told The Verge that it does not expect the shutdown to affect its LCD-based QLED TV lineup. So for the near-term, nothing changes.
One alternative is that Samsung buys its LCD panels from suppliers like TCL-owned CSOT and AUO, which already supply panels for Samsung TVs. Last year The Elec reported that Samsung could close all its South Korean LCD production lines, and make up the difference with panels bought from Chinese manufacturers like CSOT, which Samsung Display has invested in.
Samsung has also been showing off its MicroLED display technology at recent trade shows, which uses self-emissive LED diodes to produce its pixels. However, in 2019 Samsung predicted that the technology was two or three years away from being viable for use in a consumer product.