QLED vs OLED: What’s the difference?

The QLED vs OLED battle goes beyond Samsung and LG. TCL also marks its best TVs, “QLED,” and other brands past LG sell OLED TVs, namely Sony and Vizio.

As we head into the winter of 2021, the high-end TV landscape is just as complex to new customers as ever. The best TVs hit with a raft of technical-sounding hallmarks — HDR, Ultra HD 4K, 120Hz and HDMI 2.1 — floated by a stable of well-known brands competing for your dollar.


OLED TV is not QLED TV at all

LCD is the authoritative technology in flat-panel TVs and has been for a prolonged time. It’s more affordable than OLED, especially in larger sizes, and numerous panel-makers can build it.

OLED TVs don’t need LED backlights to get skinny, in addition to image quality benefits.

OLED is distinctive because it doesn’t employ an LED backlight to produce light. Instead, light is generated by millions of individual OLED subpixels. The pixels themselves — tiny dots that comprise the image — emit light, which is why it’s named an “emissive” display technology. That difference guides to all kinds of picture quality effects. Some of which favour LCD (and QLED), but most benefit OLED.

QLED TV Picture Quality varies more

Samsung and TCL, respectively, have various QLED series, and the most expensive ones perform a lot better than the cheaper ones. That’s mainly because the most significant improvements in the image quality of QLED sets don’t have enough to do with quantum dots. Instead, they’re the outcome of mini-LED backlights, more conventional full-array local dimming, bright highlights and better viewing angles, which help them outperform QLED (and non-QLED) TVs that lack those extras.


OLED: Better Contrast and Black Level

One of the essential image quality factors is black level, and their emissive nature means OLED TVs can turn unused pixels off wholly for literally infinite contrast. As a result, QLED/LCD TVs, even the best ones with the most powerful full-array local dimming, let some light through, heading to more washed-out, grayer black levels and growing around bright segments.

QLED is Brighter

The most brilliant QLED and LCD TVs can get more colourful than any OLED model, which is a particular advantage in bright rooms and HDR content. However, OLED TVs can still notice plenty bright for most rooms, and their superior contrast still enables them to give a better overall HDR image than any QLED/LCD TV.

OLED: Better Uniformity & Viewing Angle

With LCD-based displays, different screen areas can appear brighter than others all the time, and backlight structure can also be seen in some content. However, even the best LCDs also fade, lose contrast and become discoloured when seen from seats other than the sweet spot directly in front of the screen. On the other hand, OLED TVs have almost perfectly uniform screens and maintain fidelity from all but the most extreme angles.

Resolution, colour, video processing and other image quality factors are the same.

Most QLED and OLED have the exact resolution and 4K, and both can achieve 8K resolution. However, neither technology has significant inherent advantages in tone or video processing areas. 

QLED: Get Bigger, Smaller and Cheaper

Meanwhile, as QLED TVs are LCDs, they can be made in a much greater range of sizes. Non-QLED LCD TVs can get even smaller.

One significant advantage, so to speak that QLED and LCD have over OLED, is the cost of mainstream dimensions over 65 inches. Big televisions are the fastest-growing division of the market and show no signs of relaxing down. As a result, 77-inch OLED TVs cost $3,000 and up, significantly more than most 75-inch QLED TVs, and in larger sizes, the difference is even more drastic.


OLED Burn-in

Burn-in occurs when a steadfast component of the image onscreen — navigation buttons on a phone or a channel logo, news ticker or a scoreboard on a TV, for example — continue as a ghostly background no matter what else seems onscreen. All OLED screens can burn in; they’re more sensitive than LCDs, including QLED.

However, burn-in shouldn’t be a difficulty for most people. From all of the evidence, burn-in is typically caused by neglecting a single, static image element, like a channel logo, onscreen for a very long time repeatedly. Of course, that’s an issue if you hold Fox News, ESPN or MSNBC onscreen for multiple hours every day and don’t watch enough another programming, for example. But as long as you modify what’s displayed, possibilities are you’ll never experience burn-in.

Electroluminescent quantum dot prototypes could pave the way for direct-view quantum dot TVs.

Future of QLED vs OLED

Samsung is researching direct-view quantum dots, which dispenses with the liquid crystal layers and uses quantum dots themselves as the light source. As a result, emissive QLED TVs can match the absolute black levels and “infinite” contrast ratio of OLED, with better power efficiency, better colour and more. That’s pretty impressive, but it’ll be a few years before emissive QLED TVs are available for sale.

And then there’s MicroLED. It’s different emissive technology, once again created by Samsung but also sold by LG, that’s on sale now for the super-rich — the most noticeable examples cost more than a million bucks. As you might think from the title, it uses millions of teeny-tiny LEDs as pixels. MicroLED has the potential for the corresponding perfect black levels as OLED, with no danger of burn-in. It can accouche higher brightness than any current display technology, has wide-gamut excellent colour and doesn’t suffer the viewing angle and uniformity issues of LCD. It’s also friggin’ huge.