QLED vs. OLED TV: What’s the distinction and why does it matter?

When purchasing for a brand new TV, one is sure to be inundated by flashy terminology. That’s all the things from HDR and UHD to refresh price, coloration stability, good options, and lighting tech. Particularly, QLED vs. OLED shows.

TV manufacturers like Samsung are massive within the QLED enviornment, that includes all-new 2021 units just like the Neo QLED 4K and 8K fashions. You’ll additionally discover manufacturers like Sony and TCL producing QLED units. With regards to OLEDs TVs, LG leads the cost with this expertise. Search for LG’s A1, G1, and Z1 mannequin designations to make sure you’re netting your self an OLED show.

Let’s take an in-depth have a look at these two competing TV applied sciences. We’ll focus on the place they arrive from, how they’re completely different from one another, and what every one does nicely (and never so nicely). We’ll additionally share which one we expect most individuals shall be happiest with. Spoiler: It’s the OLED TV, however there are caveats you want to concentrate on.

When you’ve settled on which TV tech is best for you, try a number of the greatest QLED TV offers and greatest OLED gross sales out there now.

What’s QLED?

The Samsung QN65Q70R QLED TV.

QLED stands for Quantum Mild-Emitting Diode. In non-geek-speak, meaning a QLED TV is rather like a daily LED TV, besides it makes use of tiny nanoparticles referred to as quantum dots to super-charge its brightness and coloration. The expertise was launched by Sony in 2013, however shortly after that, Samsung started promoting its QLED TVs and established a licensing partnership with different producers, which is why you’ll additionally now discover QLED TVs from Sony, Vizio, Hisense, and TCL.

How do quantum dots work? Take a look at our deep dive into the expertise for all the particulars.

As cool as quantum dots are, a QLED TV nonetheless produces mild kind of the identical method as a daily LED TV: Through the use of a backlight made up of lots of (or in some circumstances 1000’s) of LEDs, which sits behind a standard LCD panel. It’s these LEDs that give LED (and QLED) its identify.

Curiously, it’s this use of QLED as a advertising time period that began a battle between LG and Samsung in 2019. In a criticism to South Korea’s Honest Commerce Fee (FTC), LG claimed that Samsung’s so-called QLED TVs aren’t actual QLED TVs in any respect. That’s as a result of, in response to LG, a real QLED TV would use quantum-dot LEDs that emit their very own mild, and never the quantum-dot-film-over-an-LED-backlight that Samsung makes use of.

In a retaliatory transfer, Samsung instructed the FTC it was sad with all the advertisements LG had been working, which attacked Samsung’s QLED TVs.

The FTC finally took Samsung’s facet, however with a stipulation: It should make it clear in future commercials that its QLED TVs use a backlight. Particulars, particulars.

The LCD panel — primarily tens of millions of tiny shutters that open and shut too shortly to see — along with the colour filters, creates the image you see by letting simply the correct amount of sunshine and coloration escape and attain your eyes. It’s a intelligent system, but it surely depends on a mixture of dimming the LED backlights and utilizing the shutters to dam the remaining mild to provide correct on-screen blacks, and it doesn’t all the time succeed. We’ll focus on this extra beneath.

What’s OLED?

The LG Z9 88-inch 8K HDR OLED TV.
Dan Baker/Digital Traits

OLED stands for Natural Mild-Emitting Diode. Considerably surprisingly, the “Mild Emitting-Diode” a part of that identify has nothing to do with an LED backlight because it does with QLED and LED TVs. As an alternative, it refers to the truth that each single particular person pixel in an OLED set can be a teeny, tiny LED mild — however one that’s extremely skinny and might produce each mild and coloration in a single factor. In different phrases, OLED TVs don’t want a backlight as a result of every OLED pixel produces its personal mild. If you wish to impress your mates, you need to use the business phrases for these sorts of shows: “emissive” or “self-emissive.”

There are a number of benefits to this design, however most would agree that in relation to OLED TVs, the most important benefit is the very good black stage that may be achieved. In contrast to a QLED or LED TV that should dim its backlight and block what stays for darkish scenes, an OLED TV merely turns off the pixel. When the pixel is off, it emits no mild and no coloration, making it as darkish as when the TV itself is turned off. With no separate backlight, it’s additionally lots simpler to make an OLED display screen versatile, which is why OLED pioneer LG has developed a number of OLED TVs that roll up (or down) to vanish solely.

Just one firm makes OLED TV panels: LG Show. It sells these panels to its sister firm, LG Electronics, which makes use of them to construct a number of the highest TVs you should purchase. However LG Show additionally sells OLED panels to firms like Sony, Philips, and Panasonic, which is why you’ll see OLED televisions from these firms, too. Regardless that the panels themselves are primarily equivalent, the picture processing that Sony, LG, and others do is proprietary, so that you’ll nonetheless see vital variations in image high quality from one OLED TV to a different.

What about mini-LED?

In late 2019, TCL began promoting the 8-Sequence, the very first QLED TVs powered by a mini-LED backlighting system. Mini-LEDs are tiny when in comparison with common LEDs. Because of this a QLED TV that would usually accommodate lots of of LEDs can now accommodate tens of 1000’s of mini-LEDs. The end result? Far more management over backlighting, resulting in black ranges that come far nearer to OLED than any non-OLED show has ever achieved.

Mini-LED remains to be in its infancy, however as TCL and different firms proceed to enhance it, the expertise might vastly enhance QLED image high quality with pricing that ought to be significantly lower than OLED.

And let’s not neglect about micro-LED. Conceptually just like mini-LED tech, micro-LEDs are even smaller than their mini brethren. Samsung made massive waves at CES 2020 with the announcement of The Wall, a virtually bezel-free micro-LED show out there in a number of gargantuan sizes. At CES 2021, Samsung’s The Wall lineup obtained a fair slimmer redesign (24.9 mm thick) and a mess of latest sizes starting from 32 to 75 inches.


Now that you understand what all these letters stand for, and what they imply when it comes to show expertise, let’s evaluate QLED to OLED within the classes that matter most when shopping for a TV: brightness, distinction, viewing angles, and different notable efficiency issues, like response time and lifespan — all essential elements once you’re shelling out as much as $6,000 for a top-of-the-line flatscreen.

Black ranges and distinction

Distinction is the distinction between the darkest a part of a picture and the brightest half. If a TV can ship a very black darkish portion, it doesn’t should make the intense components fairly as brilliant to realize good ranges of distinction. That’s why, in relation to black ranges, OLED reigns because the undisputed champion — due to its potential to go utterly black when it must.

LG 8K 88 inch OLED
Wealthy Shibley/Digital Traits

QLED TVs against this (ahem) are pressured to dim their LED backlights and block the remaining mild, one thing that could be very exhausting to do completely. It may well set off one thing referred to as “mild bleed,” as the sunshine spills onto what’s alleged to be a black part of the display screen.

However is it noticeable? Positively. For those who’re watching an intense motion film and two characters are working by way of a parking zone at evening, for instance, you might discover a slight glow on components of the scene which are alleged to be pitch black, or within the letterbox bars on the high and backside of the display screen whereas watching a film that makes use of a wider-than-16:9 facet ratio.

As we highlighted earlier, mini-LED backlights are a method QLED TV makers are attempting to enhance this case. It has actual potential, however we’re not fairly able to declare it an OLED killer.

For now, OLED comes out on high. If a pixel isn’t getting electrical energy, it doesn’t produce any mild and subsequently stays completely black.

Winner: OLED


QLED TVs have a substantial benefit in relation to brightness. As a result of they use separate backlights (as an alternative of counting on every pixel to create its personal mild) these LED backlights could be made extremely, achingly brilliant. Add a quantum dot’s potential to maximise that mild by producing brighter hues within the coloration spectrum with out dropping saturation and also you’ve received a show that’s greater than brilliant sufficient to be seen clearly in even probably the most brightly lit rooms.

Samsung QLED

OLED panels can’t compete on a pure brightness foundation. Their light-emitting particular person pixels merely can’t produce the identical quantity of sunshine. In a darkened room, this isn’t an issue. The truth is, we’d argue it’s preferable as a result of OLED can obtain the identical distinction with much less brightness, making dark-room viewing a much less retina-searing expertise. However in well-lit environments, or the place plenty of daylight streams in by way of home windows, QLED TVs are extra seen — particularly in case you’re taking part in HDR content material underneath these situations.

OLED panels have turn out to be brighter over time, however they nonetheless can’t match QLED TVs.

Winner: QLED

Coloration house

OLED as soon as blew all of the competitors out of the water on this part, however the usage of quantum dots in QLED TVs have allowed it to inch ahead when it comes to coloration accuracy, coloration brightness, and coloration quantity, in response to Samsung, which claims {that a} wider vary of better-saturated colours at excessive brightness ranges is a bonus.

Whereas there’s no denying the truth that these quantum dot TVs ship improbable colours, we now have but to witness better-saturated colours at excessive brightness ranges ship an actual benefit in regular viewing conditions — so we’re going to declare it a draw for now. We’ll have to see some tangible proof to declare QLED a winner.

Winner: Draw

Response time, enter lag, and refresh price

Quake Champions.

Response time refers back to the time it takes for a pixel to change from one state to a different. The sooner the response time, the crisper the picture, particularly throughout fast-action scenes. Although there may be seemingly a velocity of response time past which the human eye is incapable of telling a distinction, we all know from standardized measurements that OLED TVs are method sooner — orders of magnitude sooner than QLED TVs.

Typical QLED response instances fluctuate between two and eight milliseconds, which sounds fairly good till you understand that OLED’s response time is about 0.1 millisecond. Yup, it’s no contest.

Enter lag, however, refers back to the delay between taking an motion (like urgent a button on a recreation controller) and seeing the results of that motion onscreen. As such, enter lag is absolutely solely a priority for players — it doesn’t have a noticeable impact on passive viewing of content material in any respect.

Furthermore, the quantity of enter lag you expertise has little to do with one show expertise over one other, however extra to do with how a lot picture processing is occurring in your TV behind the scenes. Each QLED and OLED TVs can obtain very low ranges of enter lag in case you flip off all further video processing or just use the TV’s Sport Mode, which successfully does the identical factor.

Refresh price is one other class that may inherently matter extra to players than informal viewers. The refresh price is the variety of instances per second the TV updates what it’s exhibiting onscreen. It’s intently associated to border price, which is the variety of instances per second your TV present, film, or online game sends a brand new replace to the TV.

So long as these two charges are shut multiples of one another, e.g. a body price of 30 FPS and a refresh price of double that (60 Hz), you’ll by no means discover an issue. And since common TV content material like films and TV exhibits are all the time delivered at constant body charges, that is hardly a priority.

However some video games working on consoles or PCs will change their body price from one scene to a different. To maintain all the things wanting because it ought to, TVs want a characteristic referred to as VRR, or Variable Refresh Fee. This lets your TV alter its native refresh price to match these modifications in body price. In case your TV doesn’t assist VRR, it may well trigger some undesirable side-effects like screen-tearing when used with the sorts of video games that require VRR.

You could find VRR fashions in each OLED and QLED TVs. At the moment, you could find VRR TVs from Samsung, Sony, and LG. For those who’re a PC gamer who desires a big-screen gaming expertise, VRR assist is a key characteristic to hunt.

Given OLED’s unbeatable superiority in response time and refresh price, it owns this class.

Winner: OLED

Viewing angle

With QLED screens, the perfect viewing angle is lifeless heart, and the image high quality diminishes in brightness, coloration, and distinction the additional you progress facet to facet, or up and down. Whereas the severity differs between fashions, it’s all the time noticeable — regardless of TV makers’ greatest efforts to get rid of the problem.

Sony OLED CES 2017
Wealthy Shibley

OLED screens, by comparability, could be seen with no luminance degradation even at drastic viewing angles — as much as 84 levels. Some QLED TVs have improved when it comes to viewing angle, with anti-reflective layers serving to, however OLED maintains a transparent benefit. So in case you like to rearrange household screenings on your favourite films, and wish to be certain there isn’t a foul seat in the home, an OLED TV is greatest for you.

Winner: OLED


OLEDs have come a good distance. When the tech was nonetheless nascent, OLED screens maxed out at 55 inches. In the present day, display screen sizes as giant as 88 inches are doable, however solely at nice expense — the $30,000 worth places it out of attain for nearly everybody. QLED expertise is less complicated and cheaper to provide at bigger sizes. Samsung’s 85-inch Q900TS 8K QLED TV is barely $7,000, whereas its largest client mannequin presently measures 98 inches.

Winner: QLED

TV Size


LG says you would need to watch its OLED TVs 5 hours per day for 54 years earlier than they fell to 50% brightness. Whether or not that’s true stays to be seen, as OLED TVs have solely been out within the wild since 2013. QLED is even newer, however its supply of backlighting — the LED — has an extended and confirmed observe document. For that purpose and that purpose solely, we’ll award this class to QLED.

Winner (for now): QLED

Display screen burn-in

Example of screen burn-in on an OLED TV
An instance of display screen burn-in on an OLED TV. Be aware that the seen zebra sample, often called moire, is attributable to taking a photograph of a TV display screen and isn’t a part of the burn-in. Ian O’Shaughnessy

Each QLED and OLED TVs can sometimes exhibit one thing referred to as picture retention. That is when a TV quickly continues to show a part of a picture after the unique picture has disappeared. It normally presents itself as a type of shadow — that’s when it presents itself in any respect.

When picture retention does happen, it’s normally the results of having the identical visible factor onscreen for lengthy durations of time. Community logos within the nook of the display screen have been identified to trigger it, as can video video games that current the identical interface components all through gameplay.

Picture retention usually goes away by itself as soon as you turn to another type of content material that doesn’t present the problematic on-screen components.

Due to their self-emissive nature, OLED TVs are additionally inclined to the a lot rarer everlasting model of picture retention, which is named “burn-in.” Burn-in is brought on when a number of OLED pixels have their regular brightness completely diminished to a decrease state. The one repair for that is to decrease all the remainder of the pixels to the identical state, however that’s hardly a very good answer.

For an absolute assure that you simply received’t expertise burn-in, your greatest guess is QLED TV.

LG, as the most important maker of OLED TVs, acknowledges the potential for picture retention inside its person manuals for its OLED TVs however says that underneath regular viewing situations it shouldn’t occur.

So what constitutes “regular” viewing situations? Effectively, for one factor, protecting your TV on the identical channel for 10 hours a day, two months in a row, is seemingly not regular. Considered one of our readers did this by watching MSNBC on his LG C8 OLED TV, which created what he claims is a burn-in shadow of a portion of the MSNBC peacock brand and a portion of the “Reside” graphic that always accompanies it within the backside proper nook of the display screen.

Ought to this scare you away from shopping for an OLED TV? Completely not. However in case you’re choosing a TV to be used as a industrial show in a retailer, or maybe in a ready room, or in case you assume you’ll use it to play the identical online game completely for months at a time, it’s positively one thing to concentrate on.

For an absolute assure that you simply received’t expertise burn-in, your greatest guess is QLED TV.

Winner: QLED

Energy consumption

As you’re now very a lot conscious, OLED panels don’t require a super-bright backlight. These backlights eat a good quantity of energy, which implies OLED TVs are inherently extra energy-efficient. In addition they emit much less warmth than QLED TVs.

Winner: OLED

Eye consolation

LG OLED Ocular Guard

In right this moment’s viewing age, it’s doable to spend hours observing TV screens with few breaks in between. Eye fatigue is an actual symptom of the act, and it’s normally attributable to extreme blue mild manufacturing. LCD-based units have a tendency to point out extra intense blue mild than something, and that is true even in scenes that don’t characteristic gobs of the shade. Go too far, and your irritable eyes might finally result in sleeplessness, which itself can contribute to a complete vary of well being issues. That’s why some OLED makers — most notably LG — are actually looking for Ocular Guard certification for his or her panels.

Created by German security testing agency TÜV Rheinland and beforehand marketed underneath the less-exciting “Eye Consolation Show” moniker, Ocular Guard certification exams a spread of components in TV panels to find out whether or not they’re too harsh on the eyes.

In concept, OLED TVs ought to provide higher total eye consolation than QLED and another LCD-based display screen, as a result of OLED produces considerably much less blue mild than LED-backlit QLED TVs. It’s nothing a particular pair of glasses can’t deal with, however if you wish to guarantee you have got the most secure viewing expertise doable that doesn’t require buying new glasses, OLED is your champ.

Winner: OLED


As soon as upon a time, this class can be handily received by QLED TVs, however OLED TVs have come down in value, and since we’re speaking all-premium right here, comparable QLED TVs value about the identical (or extra, relying on the scale). 2021 is already shaping as much as be an enormous 12 months for TVs, particularly for the U.S. market. Samsung, Sony, and LG all have new premium TVs hitting cabinets, that includes brighter OLED shows, improved picture processing, and aesthetic redesigns for Samsung’s The Wall TV.

For those who’re buying round and see QLED TVs for reasonable — and a few of them are extremely inexpensive — understand that, not like OLED TV, there’s a big selection in image high quality with QLED TVs as a result of there are much more variables of their design, image processing, and construct. Solely the very top-of-the-line QLED TVs are equal to OLED in image high quality.

Winner: QLED

The decision

Each of those applied sciences are spectacular in their very own methods, however we’re right here to select a winner, and for the second, it’s OLED. With higher efficiency within the classes that most individuals will discover whereas watching TV exhibits and flicks, it’s the perfect image high quality you should purchase.

QLED comes out on high on paper, delivering the next brightness, longer lifespan, bigger display screen sizes, and lower cost tags. OLED, however, has a greater viewing angle, deeper black ranges, makes use of much less energy, and is likely to be higher on your well being. Each are improbable, although, so selecting between them is subjective. QLED is the higher all-rounder, however OLED expertise excels when you’ll be able to management your room’s lighting.

The actual fact is, you’ll be able to’t go fallacious with both expertise. That’s, after all, till the subsequent era of show expertise comes alongside. Mini-LED expertise, for instance, is wanting like a promising method for QLED TVs to ship higher black ranges.


Samsung is also engaged on embedding quantum dot tech into OLED panels to create a brand new type of TV: QD-OLED, which could create a TV with the perfect of each worlds. However since that’s seemingly a number of years away nonetheless, we’ll have to attend and see. What we do know is that the corporate is critical, because it doubled down on its plans with an $11 billion funding. We’ll be watching developments intently to see how this expertise evolves.

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