It’s one of those unspoken things about technology, especially these days: As soon as you make an upgrade to the latest and greatest tech, it’s going to undergo a major upgrade soon after. Whether it be Apple’s annual tech releases, Sony and Microsoft’s routine console releases, or some other, similar phenomenon, it’s practically guaranteed that the best new thing won’t stay that way for long. Take mini LED vs micro LED, for example. Both are burgeoning technologies, both with their own unique features. But what actually sets them apart?
The mini LED vs. micro LED debate represents this unspoken rule about technological advancements, and it practically does it to a T. Let’s take a look at the key differences between the two, paying close attention to their main defining features. From there, we’ll make a full comparison of mini LED vs. micro LED, analyzing the pros and cons of each and explaining their respective histories in the process. In the end, the mini LED vs. micro LED debate will be a lot more clear than it is presently. Ultimately, we’ll be able to say which technology is truly best. Now, let’s dive in.
Side-By-Side Comparison: Mini LED vs. Micro LED
|Mini LED||Micro LED|
|Size||100-200 µm||Less than 100 µm|
|Primary Usage||LCD displays||OLED displays|
|Number of LEDs Per Display||1,000+ LEDs||1,000,000+ LEDs|
|Energy Consumption||Mid-range||Low range|
|Viewing Angle||Mid-range||High range|
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Mini LED vs. Micro LED: Top 3 Key Differences
Now that we’ve laid out all the specs side by side, it’s worth diving deeper into the mini LED vs. micro LED debate by explaining a few of the key differences between the two. From the primary uses of the two to the costs associated with each to the ease of use for both mini LED vs micro LED, these are the three main things that set these technologies apart.
Firstly, the primary uses of mini LED vs micro LED. Mini LEDs, by and large, are used for most of the same things as standard LEDs. From smart TVs to display walls to HDR screens and beyond, mini LEDs continue to be used for many (if not most) of the same purposes as LED. Micro LEDs, on the other hand, have a different purpose: taking LEDs to new and previously untouched places. Smart watches, virtual reality headsets, car displays… the list goes on. Anywhere that someone might have one day dreamed of using an LCD screen, micro LEDs can effectively allow it.
Cost to Use
Secondly, the costs associated with both mini LED vs micro LED. Put in the simplest of terms, mini LEDs are more affordable than micro LEDs. This has everything to do with the fact that mini LEDs have seen more research, more development, and more implementation than micro LEDs have. Micro LEDs are still an up-and-coming technology, and though they have been used in several different ways thus far, they’re far from the widespread use that mini LEDs have enjoyed over the past several years or so. This leads to lower costs for mini LED over micro LED.
Ease of Use
Thirdly — and lastly — there’s the ease of use for mini LED vs. micro LED. With its lower cost and wider use, mini LED is definitely the easier one to mass produce. Micro LEDs, by comparison, are a little bit harder to mass produce. Not only are they more expensive, but they’re also more difficult to grasp in this early stage. Manufacturers must produce the micro LEDs on a wafer, at which point they need to be transferred to a backplane. This process demands speed and efficiency and reliability which truly proves to be a real hurdle.
5 Must-Know Facts About LEDs
- LED stands for light-emitting diodes. LCD, on the other hand, stands for liquid-crystal display.
- LED TVs and LCD TVs are actually quite similar. In truth, many LED TVs are simply LCD TVs with an LED backlight. Micro LED displays, by comparison, create their own light when charged with electricity and therefore do not need a backlight.
- Micro LEDs are similar to OLED displays in that neither needs a backlight and both can be used for more flexible purposes than basic LEDs or even mini LEDs. However, micro LEDs are even better than OLED because of their brighter, more efficient, longer-lasting lights and even higher range of colors.
- A single LED bulb can last as long as 20 years or more.
- Because they have no backlight, OLED and micro-LED displays can offer what’s known as true or perfect black — a more lifelike darkness that lacks any actual light behind it. LED and LCD displays can never have this because of their backlight.
Mini LED Explained
A couple of years back, a new type of television display technology started to emerge on the scene. It was called mini LED, and it had the attention of all the major TV brands at once. (From high-end to mid-range to low-end and back again.) LG, TCL, Samsung, and the list goes on. Each brand called it something completely different, but all had their own mini LED TVs on the market almost as soon as the technology emerged in the late 2010s. LG called it QNED LCD. Samsung called it Neo QLED. TCL was upfront about it, simply embracing the Mini LED name.
In the most basic terms, mini LEDs are exactly that: smaller LEDs than the ones used prior to the invention of mini LEDs. Simply put, it’s a new-and-improved LED. For the sake of this explainer, you can assume that the main uses of mini LED are the same as the main uses of LED proper. Sized anywhere from 100-200 µm, mini LEDs are much smaller than an LED’s typical size of 200 µm or more. Apple has begun replacing LEDs in its MacBook and iPad screens with mini LEDs, with tech companies such as Nintendo and others expected to follow their lead (if they haven’t already).
The benefit of a mini LED as opposed to a standard LED? Well, it’s the same thinking as with any pixel technology. The more LEDs used, the more pixels a display can contain. This, in turn, leads to a larger, brighter, more vibrant screen resolution than you could achieve with an LED proper. Relatively easy and affordable to mass produce and implement into display technology, mini LEDs were embraced with open arms because they’re a simple and natural progression of the kind of LED technology that tech companies have already trusted for years now.
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Micro LED Explained
Micro LEDs, by comparison, are not so simple to explain. Despite their similar-sounding names, they’re quite different than the natural evolution of LED to mini LED. It’s easier to think of them as more of a sidestep forward than a direct one. First conceived by Texas Tech University researchers in the year 2000, micro LED was a groundbreaking invention from the very first moment it went public. Whereas mini LEDs improved existing LED display technology, micro LED offered the ability to bring display technology to new and previously impossible places.
From smartwatches to smartphones to car displays to virtual reality headsets (in addition to televisions, of course), micro LEDs are small and efficient enough to bring state-of-the-art display technology to even smaller, even more, flexible locations. That’s a good word to use: flexible. Because of their incredibly tiny size — less than 100 µm, compared to the 100-200 µm size of mini LEDs and the 200+ size of LEDs — micro LEDs can be implemented into (or onto) even smaller, even more versatile, even more, abstract technologies.
Micro LEDs are similar to (but not equal to) OLEDs in the sense that they are self-luminous. This leads to even higher contrast, even faster response times, and even better energy efficiency than OLED, mini LED, LCD, Plasma, and all other display technologies currently on the market. Alas, micro LEDs are not without fault. Because of their state-of-the-art status, they’re yet to reach that ease of production that mini LEDs are currently enjoying. What’s more, they also lack the affordability that comes with mini LED use. In time, micro LEDs are sure to reach that level. Not quite yet, though.
Mini LED vs. Micro LED: Pros and Cons
|Pros of Mini LEDs||Cons of Mini LEDs|
|Better contrast ratio over LED LCDs||More expensive than conventional LED LCDs|
|More affordable than micro LEDs||Prone to burn-in when used over time|
|Pros of Micro LEDs||Cons of Micro LEDs|
|Superior display technology to mini LED||More expensive than mini LEDs|
|Requires no backlight in its displays||Harder to mass produce than mini LEDs|
Which Is Better, Mini LED or Micro LED?
And so, despite their similar-sounding names, the mini LED vs micro LED debate rages on. From their differing specs to their individual uses to their respective histories and their unique pros and cons, mini LEDs and micro LEDs both exist for a reason. Likewise, both exist in different areas of the display technology field. Neither one could be swapped with the other. Nor could one be confused for the other once these differences have been made clear. So, with all of this in mind, which one is truly best between mini LED vs micro LED? The answer has to be micro LEDs.
From their smaller size, brighter, more vibrant, more detailed displays, lower energy consumption, and their higher efficiency, micro LEDs take the cake in almost every single instance. Sure, they cost more, and yes, they’re harder to mass produce, but this doesn’t take away from the sheer number of advantages micro LED has over mini LED. Mini LEDs are by no means bad, especially given their advantages over standard LEDs. But, when a winner has to be named, that winner undoubtedly has to be a micro LED.