OLED vs LED: Must Know Facts

  • A common issue with OLED and LED lights is that they will get confused for LCD. LCD stands for liquid crystal display and is merely a reference to the screen or display. As such, any device – such as a TV, micro computer, laptop, or phone –  can be LCD while still being OLED or LED.
  • The same confusion applies to 4K devices. 4K refers to the specific resolution of a TV, laptop, phone, or monitor and can come with an OLED or LED display. However, 4K – just like any other device – will look better on an OLED device, not an LED one.
  • OLED devices still consume more energy than LED devices, despite the source differences in their lighting. 

OLED vs LED: The Key Differences Explained

OLED and LED are types of lighting displays that can be found in an array of new devices, including phones, TVs, computer monitors, and more. Both are relatively modern and come with sharp features. However, there are key differences between the two, even though both deal with the specific type of lighting source that the devices use. 

The primary difference between the two types of displays is the source of the light: LED devices are backlit, meaning another source actually provides the light for these devices. OLED devices rely on organic material within each diode to actually light the device. This provides for a clearer, sharper, and more well-lit picture. 

Berlin, Germany, Sep 06, 2019, LG 8k Signature Smart OLED Premium TV on display, at LG exhibition showroom, stand at Global Innovations Show IFA 2019

OLED vs LED: Side by Side Comparison

What it is A light source that is lit by a layer of organic material Semiconductor light source that is backlit
Primary Use Illuminating electronic devices, such as TV, phones, laptops, and more Illuminating electronic devices, such as TV, phones, laptops, and more 
Name Organic Light-Emitting Diode Light Emitting Diode
Conceived The early 1950s 1907
Initial Release 2002 1927 (widespread commercial adaption occurred later)
Influential Developers Martin Pope, Ching Wan Tang, Steven Van Slyke, Eastman Kodak H.J. Round, Georges Destriau, Zoltan Bay
Technologies influenced OLED, PLED (Polymer LED)
Young woman having LED light facial treatment in beauty salon

OLED vs LED: Summary

OLED shows the remarkable capability to be controlled on a pixel-by-pixel basis. This means that individual pixels can be controlled through a display or other mini controller, allowing a full array of colors, brightness, and contrast to occur for individual pixels. This remarkable level of control is simply not available on LED devices. 

OLED pixels are created via the application of a mini layer of organic material. This means that OLED pixels can be lit without any source of backlight. This is what allows for the full array of controls that are available with an OLED screen. 

LED devices are backlit from an external light source. This means that they consume far more power on a per-pixel basis and cannot give as detailed resolution or pictures as OLED devices are capable of doing. However, while they lack many of the features that OLED devices contain, this does not mean that they are a massively inferior product.

full screen
Full screen mode allows you to watch videos that take up your entire screen.


Indeed, LED can still provide crystal clear pictures that can give viewers an excellent experience. Furthermore, a variety of technological innovations – including the advent of 1080p – mean that LED devices can provide excellent quality. 

OLED vs LED: Which is Better?

When it comes to brightness, contrast, and color, there is really no question: OLED is superior to LED. Users with the resources to make the purchase will almost always get OLED devices, rather than an LED one. Furthermore, OLED actually consumes less power, as they do not need to rely on external power devices to create lighting.

However, LED devices are still cheaper and more plentiful. As such, they should not be completely written off. 

Next Up…

OLED vs LED – Full Comparison FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is OLED?

OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode, and it is a reference to the lighting source in OLED devices. These devices are lit by organic material that emits a thin layer of controllable light, allowing users fully detailed control over the light over the course of the device’s lifespan. It has become very popular for a variety of entertainment and gaming purposes.

Furthermore, an increasing array of products is becoming available in OLED forms. These include microdevices, like smartwatches and ultra-small or ultra-thin displays. These microdevices and are still relatively expensive, but as the technology improves, the price shrinks, putting these microdevices in the hands of more users.

What is LED?

LED is a more conventional form of lighting display. It stands for “light-emitting diode” and refers to pixels that are backlit from an external device. These devices – which consume far, far more power on a per-pixel than LED ones over the course of their lifespan – are more affordable and still provide excellent picture and clarity.

Is OLED worth it over LED?

It depends on how important light sources are to you. There is no doubt about the superiority of contrast, color, and brightness of an OLED device vs. an LED one. However, whether or not it is “worth it” truly depends on your individual preferences, tastes, and most importantly, your budget. OLED displays may provide a full array of advantages – and there is no question that they are superior for television watching or gaming – but they are also far more expensive, often costing several hundred dollars for similarly-sized screens.

In many cases, it may still be worth it. This is particularly the case if you are truly into gaming or will absolutely use the device extensively over the lifespan of your ownership.

Is OLED really that much better than LED?

It really is. The difference is very clear, and countless objective reviewers have noted the difference.

Is an OLED TV worth buying?

If you will use it extensively, are truly into gaming, and have the money to spend on an OLED TV, there is no question that it is worth buying. However, many factors – including the cost – must be considered before you make such an expensive purchase.

What's the difference between OLED vs LED?

The main difference is the source of lighting. LED devices are backlit, meaning that their light comes from an external source. By contrast, OLED devices are lit by a layer of organic material. These mini layers provide for advanced control and additional features that are simply not available in an LED device.

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