When it comes to buying a new TV, understanding the technical specifications couldn’t be more important. One of the key specifications that separates some of the leading panels on the market today is OLED and QLED.
While OLED and QLED are only distinguished by one letter, the viewing experience they offer varies widely. It doesn’t matter whether you are a gamer, a consumer of content or a daily user, you want to understand the pros, cons, benefits and drawbacks of each display technology to ensure you choose the best for your needs.
Fortunately, we have a lot of experience when it comes to display technology, which gives us great confidence in our ability to compare QLED versus OLED comprehensively. We’ll look at everything from image quality to gaming performance and everything in between, and conclude with which technology you should buy.
We have also compared NanoCell, QLED, mini LED, OLED, NanoCell and OLED.
OLED vs QLED: Quick Summary
If you are looking for the main differences between OLED and QLED TVs, here is a quick summary:
Samsung New QLED QN900A
LED Mini LCD Display (Zones 1344 – 2340)
Color accuracy and vibrancy are improved
LG C2 OLED TV
42, 48, 55, 65, 77, 83
Incredibly fast response time (0.001ms)
Excellent gaming performance
Peak brightness is limited
Age problems and turmoil
What is OLED
OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, is a type of display technology that – unlike general LED panels – does not require a backlight to operate. Instead, OLED displays feature an organic composite layer made up of thousands of tiny OLED pixels that produce their own light and colors.
Self-emission pixels are unique to OLED panel technology and help create a truly stunning visual experience. Since each pixel operates independently, an OLED TV or display can produce an infinite contrast ratio. This happens thanks to each pixel having the ability to completely shut off its own light source – creating perfect blacks right next to high light. This is not possible in TVs that use backlighting because the latest small LED screens do not provide the local dimming areas required for an infinite contrast ratio.
At the moment, only one company produces OLED TV panels, and that is LG Display. While the majority of their boards are sold to sister company LG Electronics, other brands are starting to incorporate the technology as well.
What is QLED TV
QLED is a display technology used by many screen manufacturers thanks to qualities that include more accurate colors and higher peak brightness when compared to generic LED arrays. The “Q” in QLED stands for Quantum Dot – a nanoparticle layer that enhances the overall LED panel’s color and brightness.
Unlike OLED screens, QLED panels require a backlight to work – which means they can’t deliver the same amazing blacks and contrast ratio as OLED. However, when comparing QLED to regular LED panels, it is clear that QLED offers a much better visual experience overall.
OLED vs QLED: Which Technology Should You Buy?
Below we’ll look at all the major visual factors found in modern displays. To get a better idea of which display technology best suits your needs, we’ll compare OLED and QLED across a number of different areas ranging from contrast ratio and luminance to gaming performance and viewing angles.
Contrast ratio is the difference between the brightest and the darkest. It’s a very important factor when buying a TV because it affects the overall picture quality you experience.
When looking at the contrast differences between OLED and QLED, there is only one winner – OLED.
With OLED’s ability to turn off individual pixels, you can create true blacks right next to maximum brightness – what’s known as infinite contrast ratio. OLED displays aren’t limited by local dimming and backlighting, which means they’ll always be able to outperform alternatives that work.
Unfortunately, QLED displays do not offer this functionality – instead you have to dim individual sections of the backlight to produce dark shadows. Annoyingly, since the local dimming area is not as small as an individual pixel, it ends up covering thousands of pixels – all affected by the area dimming. This, in the end, results in lower levels of contrast and can result in artifacts on the screen such as strobe light, boom, and aura.
Peak luminance is exactly what it says on the box – the maximum brightness your monitor or TV can display at any given moment. Peak brightness often affects daytime viewing and the HDR quality a display can provide – so it’s a relatively important feature for most people.
However, due to the backlight that a QLED TV uses, it offers a significant performance boost in this particular department.
Since QLED pixels are not self-luminous, they require backlighting to display color and light. This backlight is often much more powerful than the organic pixels in OLED, resulting in a much brighter display. This is great for QLED users as daytime viewing can be very vibrant. By contrast, OLEDs cannot produce the same levels of luminance, which means that color clarity is affected.
LG says this isn’t a huge problem because OLED can produce perfect blacks – making bright areas look a little brighter. Furthermore, OLED TVs definitely offer an easier viewing experience due to the lack of brightness – which results in less eye strain over long periods of time.
Color accuracy and color gamut
Color gamut is a term used to describe the range of colors a monitor can produce. As you can imagine, most users prefer screens with a wide color gamut as they have the ability to produce better HDR performance and greater realism in general.
It’s very close when comparing QLED to OLED in terms of color, thanks mainly to the improvements made through the use of the Quantum Dot nanocoating in QLEDs.
However, Samsung claims that QLED technology is better because it offers higher levels of color accuracy, better brightness, and better saturation.
Gaming performance (response time, refresh rate, input lag)
Gaming performance is often broken down into three main factors – response time, refresh rate, and input lag. For this reason, the type of board does not play a big role in this department.
However, there are some subtle differences that can be inferred when choosing between OLED and QLED for gaming purposes. First, OLED TVs offer exceptional response times thanks to the organic nature of the pixels they use. While QLEDs are getting faster, OLED is still the best in this regard. Moreover, OLED TVs also feature a more natural contrast ratio, wider color gamuts, and exciting HDR performance – thanks to perfect blacks. As HDR performance becomes more and more popular, this can be one of the main considerations when choosing a TV game.
Instead, there are many similarities that can be drawn from the use of QLED and OLED technology for gaming. Both feature fast refresh rates, VRR technology (for G-sync and FreeSync systems), and performance-enhancing settings like ALLM and adaptive sync. However, QLEDs are much brighter than OLEDs, which makes them better for gaming during the day.
After looking at it, we’ve brought the point to OLED – but only.
Viewing angles are a particularly important factor to discuss when comparing panel technologies – especially if you’re buying for a large family. Since there are many people watching a TV from different locations, you want the viewing angles for your new set to be as good as possible.
When comparing OLED and QLED in this section, once again, there is only one winner – OLED. QLED screens fall victim to brightness and color degradation when viewing from wide angles – with effects increasing as the angle becomes more murky.
In contrast, the viewing experience hardly changes when viewing an OLED TV from obscure angles. Even when watching an OLED TV up to 85 degrees, the overall visual experience is still good.
For this reason, OLED TV gets this category.
Picture quality is something that, again, encompasses a variety of factors when discussing TV technology. To get great image quality, we must take into account specifications such as resolution, color space, pixel density, contrast ratio, maximum brightness and HDR.
Fortunately, both OLED and QLED panels generally have amazing picture quality – however, one of these panel types outperforms them.
First, let’s look at the similarities. Both QLED and OLED can feature 4K/8K screen resolution, wide color gamut, and appropriate pixel density. This alone is enough to get high scores on the image quality scale. However, when you add the advantages of high-end OLED to the equation, it is hard to argue against it for the sake of overall picture quality.
OLED, as mentioned earlier, features perfect blacks and an infinite contrast ratio, resulting in a stunning visual experience that’s hard to beat. These two specs also translate into exceptional HDR performance as well
Age and potential combustion
Starting with its lifespan, LG has said in the past that a user would have to watch one of its OLED TVs “for five hours a day for 54 years” to see a 50% degradation in brightness. Unfortunately, there is no way to confirm these claims because OLED panels have only been around since 2013.
On top of that, OLED screens run a constant risk of burning out over time – a factor you don’t have to worry about about QLED panels at all. Burn-in occurs when an image is constantly burned into the pixels of an OLED TV, destroying the visual experience and overall picture quality that an OLED TV can produce.
Although OLED TV manufacturers are developing ways to try to counter these annoying shortcomings, they are still a risk every OLED TV owner has to worry about. LG pays special attention to panel care in its latest OLED TV series (C2 series) – offering a large number of “OLED Care” options to reduce the chances of burning.
By contrast, QLED TVs are newer – which means their life expectancy is also unknown. However, with LED backlight technology at the heart of every QLED TV, we’d be incredibly confident to say that QLED TVs will outlive OLED screens. LED backlights have a proven track record when it comes to reliability, with very few issues with the longevity of their design.
All things considered, there is only one winner here – the QLED.
Finally, we have the price. Price is very important when it comes to buying any device – even more so when you are likely to invest thousands of dollars in a product.
With this in mind, the price differentials between OLED and QLED have decreased significantly over the years, with recent offerings (of both QLED and OLED) being more affordable. Having said that, it looks like 2022 will be a bumper year for OLED TVs, with almost all manufacturers releasing their variants.
As you can imagine, as the manufacturing volume increases, the price will naturally decrease with it. However, the pricing range that ties itself to QLED TVs is much wider – which means you can theoretically buy a QLED TV for much cheaper. Having said that, image quality, motion processing, features, and processing performance vary greatly as well – with many cheaper QLED variants falling behind OLEDs when referring to performance.
Regardless, the QLED TV still takes the point — but only.
What about QD-OLED?
Well, before we finish, we’d better touch on the latest technology in the 2022 TV basket – QD-OLED.
You may have worked, QD-OLED is a combination of QLED and OLED technologies. The latest form of display technology is due to hit shelves in 2022 and will feature both Quantum Dot and OLED technology.
At the heart of these TVs, manufacturers will take advantage of OLED as the light source, while layering it with a Quantum Dot nanocoating for greater luminance and amazingly vibrant colors — the kind of thing LG is doing with its Evo OLED lineup. At the moment, there are only rumors of two companies using the new QD-OLED technology (Samsung and Sony A95K), with pricing still up for debate.
Having said that, if pricing the initial release of OLEDs is anything to go by, the new QD-OLED TVs will be very expensive.