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OLED vs Micro LED: Differences, Features, and Full Comparison

oled vs micro led

OLED vs Micro LED: Differences, Features, and Full Comparison

The term “Micro LED” has recently gained some recognition in the television and technology industries. Micro LED televisions are widely regarded as an improvement over OLED models. It is not an exaggeration to state that Micro LED TVs may one day completely alter the television production industry.

Since first witnessing Samsung’s ‘The Wall’ at CES 2018, we have been curious to see if this cutting-edge panel technology succeeds where others have failed. The fact that Micro LED technology can be used in other contexts outside of television is crucial.

For example, at CES 2021, Vuzix unveiled a new pair of smart glasses driven by Micro LED technology. Furthermore, Micro LED technology has been rumored to be under consideration for inclusion in a future Apple Watch model.

Samsung’s Crystal LED B-Series and C-Series are two new modular offerings for businesses and discerning consumers. These Series are coming much closer to becoming actual televisions. And you may notice features like bit mapping and video processing that enhance visuals. It is mainly due to its ability to generate brightness levels of up to 1800 nits.  

However, when it comes to high-quality TVs, you just cannot forget about OLEDs. Things indeed keep getting better in the form of new technology or a more attractive price. But, it is clear from the last decade or so that OLED is here to stay. In fact, the next generation of OLED televisions are likely to be three times more durable, twice as brilliant, and one-third more energy efficient.

Although Micro LED shows promise, it is still in its infancy and far from being ready for mass manufacturing. So, there is no need to worry about it replacing OLED any time soon. Nevertheless, it makes sense to check its potential applications, and whether or not it will eventually replace OLED.

OLED vs Micro LED: Side-by-Side Comparison

Micro LEDOLED
Display typeEmissiveEmissive
Response timeVery highHigh
ContrastHighHigh
LifetimeLongMedium
Power efficiencyHighMedium
Sunlight visibilityHighMedium
FlexibilityMedium-highHigh
Tech maturityLowMedium-high
Operating temperature-100 to 120C-30 to 70C
OLED vs Micro LED infographic

OLED vs Micro LED: What’s the Difference?

The Basics

Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) is state-of-the-art in terms of display technology right now. In 2013, the first OLED televisions became available in the United States, making it a relatively young market for this technology.

OLED has always been a high-end technology, providing excellent picture quality but costing more than other display technologies like LCD.  Moreover, OLED is unique in its flat design, making it suitable for direct application to glass.  

And its light-emitting properties do away with the need for a dedicated backlight. This results in thinner TV designs and greater efficiency compared to LCDs.

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Micro LED technology, like organic light-emitting diode (OLED), employs self-illuminating pixels comprised of multicolored microscopic LEDs. This allows for an extremely precise picture to be displayed without a backlight.

Since each pixel may be individually activated or disabled, the results are comparable to OLED, especially in terms of dark levels.  Therefore, a Micro LED panel’s HDR control is more impressive. And you will instantly notice deeper blacks and brighter whites than competing technologies.

Samsung’s The Wall is a good example of how manufacturers can customize the Micro LED tech to meet a variety of needs. In addition, the modularity of Samsung’s The Wall demonstrates the adaptability of Micro LED technology. It’s mainly because the display consists of many screen sections joined together to form a larger display.

Display Tech

OLED panels work on an “emissive display technology,” which is why they have received such positive reviews in the television industry. On an OLED display, each pixel generates its own illumination, eliminating the need for backlights.

Emissive displays, such as OLED, have a number of advantages over transmissive ones. They deliver higher contrast ratios, more vivid colors, and nearly unimpaired visibility from any viewing angle. To put it another way, OLED televisions excel at every task at which LCD and LED models fail.

Micro LED is interesting since it is an emissive display quite like OLEDs, but it does not use organic molecules to generate light. Instead, each microscopically small RGB LED in a Micro LED display represents a single pixel on the display.

The pixels are self-illuminating, adjustable in brightness, and off by default. It is quite like how it is in OLED and plasma screens, so no additional lighting is required.

Black Levels

When comparing LCD and OLED televisions, the accuracy of the black levels is a major point of differentiation. This phenomenon, termed as “elevated blacks,” occurs because LCD televisions are illuminated at all times, even while showing black.

In contrast, OLED TVs are capable of producing true blacks by selectively lighting only the pixels that are being displayed. This is a feature that regular TVs lack and OLED sets have mastered. Micro LED televisions, on the other hand, will be able to rival OLED in terms of per-pixel capability and provide the same deep blacks.

Contrast and Brightness

Limited brightness is one of OLEDs’ few flaws. It has certainly improved in recent years, but LCD TVs have always had the upper hand because ultra-bright LEDs power them.

As a general rule, even the brightest OLED televisions can only reach a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits. Even though LG’s new OLED Evo technology is supposed to make OLEDs brighter, it is only available on one model in the company’s OLED lineup at the moment.

In contrast, Micro LED claims to achieve up to 5,000 nits of brightness, which is brighter than the best OLED and on par with the best direct luminance of LCDs. Without any intervening filters, the increased luminosity of Micro LED is sent unaltered to the viewer’s eyes.

Micro LED also appears to be ahead of the pack, which is another metric evaluating the difference between any screen’s brightest white and darkest dark. The contrast ratio of a Micro LED TV will be higher than that of an OLED TV since Micro LED TVs can reach far higher brightness levels.

Nevertheless, both technologies provide excellent contrast in real use, and theoretical contrast measurements rarely correspond to the actual visual experience.

Viewing Angles

What we mean when we talk about a TV’s “viewing angle” is how well the picture holds up when seen from an off-center position. Broad viewing angles are highly favored because most people watch TV in groups, and only one person at a time can sit right in front of the screen.

This means that everyone in the room, including those in recliners off to the side, can see and hear everything on the screen. LCD TVs are notorious for their limited viewing angles, with colors shifting and images becoming blurry when seen from angles wider than 45 degrees. 

But, Micro LED displays are likely to provide you with exceptional viewing angles. It is probably the case because each pixel is responsible for producing color visible on the screen’s surface. Since there is no glass between the observer and the pixels, micro LEDs may have superior viewing angles to OLED.

However, if the viewing angle is a concern, you can never go wrong with OLEDs. These TVs have made great strides, with realistic colors and good viewing angles of over 90 degrees. This is because, unlike LCD TVs, which require a precise viewing angle to avoid color filtering and parallax errors, OLED TVs place the entire display system directly on the glass of the display.

Resolution and Clarity

oled vs micro led
MicroLED offers greatly reduced energy requirements.

There are a handful of factors that contribute to a fantastic picture. Sharpness is the most prominent of these qualities. When describing an image, “sharpness” refers to the level of information that you can make out with ease.  

When you opt for a 4K super HD display, you end up noticing incredible detail.  As both Micro LED and OLED TVs boast 4K resolution, the picture quality is pretty much the same.

It is worth mentioning that video processing can make on-screen objects stand out more by creating a thin black outline around them, in contrast to traditional sharpness settings. This is irrelevant for comparing OLED and Micro LED because it is not a feature of the display technology.

Limitations   

Both OLEDs and Micro LEDs are not without their limitations.

OLEDs

It is worth mentioning that due to its organic nature, OLED display technology has a shorter lifespan than its competitors. Therefore, over time, the brightness and vibrancy of a TV display can diminish as the pixel efficacy decreases. Still, this may take a very long time.

While the brightness of OLED TVs is typically not as great as that of high-end LED TVs, they do have a reputation for having excellent color saturation and accuracy. In many ways, OLED’s screen preservation abilities are comparable to those of plasma TVs, which is arguably more crucial.

Micro LED

The size of the pitch or gaps between the tiny individual LEDs that make up the pixels is another challenge. It is crucial to stress the inherent limitations of miniaturization in electronics and other components. Conventional circuit design and engineering practices currently hinder the development of Micro LEDs in a range of sizes.

It is only practical for higher screen sizes because each module comprises a collection of pixels measuring a millimeter. So far, a 77-inch model is the smallest Micro LED TV on the market, and the 4K version of the original Wall TV was 146-inch.

Cost

The cost is the primary distinction between the two. It would be inefficient to mass-produce TVs using Micro LED technology, so OLED has the upper hand because it can be printed.

But there is still the problem of how long this will all last. Since organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) use a chemical that breaks down over time, their lifespan is finite. This is a problem since, when shelling out several thousand dollars for high-end television, most people expect their investment to last for several years.

Even if your device’s quality does not degrade for at least the first five years of use, that will not always be the case. What’s more, burn-in will become a major news story as the number of people playing video games continues to rise, thanks in large part to the accessibility of systems like the Nintendo Switch. This is especially true now that OLED displays are becoming increasingly affordable.

On the other hand, a Micro LED display will not degrade over time, which is a major benefit. In the absence of external factors, the brightness of a Micro LED display will not naturally decrease over time.

This is great news for gamers and the makers of smartwatches and smartphones. It is mainly because now, they would not have to take into account user interface elements that could burn into the display and shorten the devices’ lifespans.

OLED vs Micro LED: 5 Must-Know Facts

  1. Micro LEDs can achieve a maximum brightness of 5000 nits, which is a lot brighter than OLEDs can ever get.
  2. Micro LEDs come with a little risk of the image becoming permanently fixed due to the special electro-luminescent and chemical qualities.
  3. Because of their characteristics and diminutive size, Micro LEDs can achieve a resolution of up to 6,000 PPI, with stunning colors.
  4. In contrast to conventional LEDs, Micro LEDs generate significantly less heat, which means they are less likely to have pixel failure.  
  5. OLEDs maintain high-quality black levels, but Micro LEDs are stunning in this regard because of their higher per-pixel capability.

OLED vs Micro LED: Which One Is Better?

Large-scale Micro LED displays are really breathtaking as their brightness and color reproduction are just unparalleled in displays of their size. Unless you get right up to a panel and examine attentively, you will not be able to tell that there were ever any seams there in the first prototypes.

Micro LEDs might be an improvement over OLED TVs, but it depends heavily on the screen size that you are after. Micro LED displays in the 70-120-inch range currently cannot match the resolution of OLED and LED televisions of the same size. To sum up, OLED is still the best option regarding picture quality and cost, unless you plan to cover a whole wall.

But, is there a chance for Micro LEDs to replace OLEDs completely? For the foreseeable future, say, the next five years, OLED is likely to maintain its position as the dominant technology in premium televisions. The current high price of panel production is the primary reason behind this.

Samsung’s “The Wall” has been a fantastic demonstration of the tech, but it is still probably not a realistic or economical solution for most people. The 2021 update to “The Wall” fixes that by making it modular and, most crucially, allowing it to be mounted on walls without the aid of a handyman. However, the price point suggests that it is unlikely to enter the mass market anytime soon.

We believe that, eventually, manufacturing tech will catch up and Micro LED panels will become cheaper to produce. Unfortunately, this is when OLED is more likely to fail, exactly how Plasma left the market after LED announced its arrival.

After all, consumers would be more likely to invest in a TV if they knew it would survive longer without sacrificing picture quality. But, how long it truly takes for Micro LED to become more affordable is still a mystery. And until then, it seems you will have to live with your good old OLEDs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you know about the response time of your TV?

The speed with which a TV screen refreshes to show a new scene in a broadcasted program is known as its “response time.” If you watch TV on a large screen, this is a crucial component in determining whether or not the picture will freeze at the beginning or progressively fade in.

Micro LED is becoming increasingly essential in the next generation of display tech in comparison to OLED and LCDs. It is mainly because of its great optoelectronic qualities, fast response time, exceptional power efficiency, and improved stability.

Micro LED has a response time of 0.2 ns, which is 104 times faster than OLED. On the other hand, LCD has a response time of 5ms, whereas OLED has a response time of around 10 μs.

What is the operating temperature of LCD vs OLED vs Micro LED?

Mechanical or electrical equipment, such as your TV, can function within a certain temperature range, which is referred to as “operating temperature.”

There is a wide temperature range for modern-day TVs. For instance, Micro LEDs have a temperature range of -100 to 120C. But, it is different for OLEDs, which illuminate individual pixels or characters using small LEDs made from organic materials. Each color option has a contrast ratio of at least 2000:1.

In addition to a greater viewing angle, this technology also allows for an expanded operating temperature range beginning at -40C and going all the way up to +85C. OLED technology is appealing for embedded applications due to its low input power needs.

In the case of LCDs, which typically come with brightness within 100 and 300 nits, you will notice a slightly different operating temperature. These devices typically have a limited operating temperature range, beginning at -20C and moving up to only 70C.

The contrast performance is not ideal either, but this standard form of the display has been shown to be adaptable in several contexts.

Are there other display techs other than Micro LED and OLED?

If you have been craving an update and can afford it, you should seriously consider purchasing an OLED television and filling it with professionally mastered content.

Although MicroLED shows promise as a future replacement, the technology is currently only available in extremely big televisions and is still too expensive for the mass market.

However, the interesting thing is that these are not the only emissive panel techs you can get these days. Samsung has just stated that it will begin producing televisions using its QD-OLED (quantum OLED) technology.

The tech is a mix of the quantum dot layers used in Samsung’s QLED televisions and OLEDs. Even though this might not lead to larger OLED televisions, it has the potential to greatly improve the brightness of OLED screens without compromising their capacity to achieve perfect black.

Similarly, TCL’s latest screens are stunning because of the company’s work on miniaturizing LED backlights. With these displays powered by Micro LEDs, it will be possible to achieve the true black of OLEDs.

What can you do to avoid an OLED burn-in?

Burn-in refers to the phenomenon where a pattern or image remains on a screen indefinitely. This is because some organic components within the panel wear away faster than others, leading to uneven pixel wear.

OLED burn in is now less likely to strike an OLED TV than it was in the past, thanks to technological advancements. However, the manufacturers’ actions demonstrate that the problem has not been entirely resolved.

You can save your screen from permanent damage caused by burn-in by avoiding long durations of exposure to static images. For instance, the “breaking news” banners on continuously updating news channels can cause this.

Similarly, it may happen due to the YouTube logo, which stays in the same place when you launch the app. Burn-in is extremely improbable if your viewing habits are diverse.

You are probably safe if you are the type of gamer who just spends a few weeks immersed in each title before moving on to the next. And, of course, there is nothing to fear if you do not leave your TV on in a static interface and instead turn it off when you are done watching.

Is an OLED TV still worth buying?

If you have ever wondered what sets OLED TVs apart from the competition, here are three reasons:

  • They offer unmatched blacks.
  • They offer an exceptionally fast response time.
  • They deliver amazing color saturation.

As you can see, all these factors can significantly enhance your viewing experience, you should certainly consider buying an OLED TV.

It is worth mentioning that the image brightness of early OLED TVs was noticeably lower compared to LED TVs, including QLED models. But, subsequent OLED alternatives boast enhanced brightness and clarity that is essentially on par with the competition.

Also, you should keep in mind that OLED panels tend to be more expensive because producers cannot meet the current demand.

However, multiple companies are working on innovative new technologies, so competitively priced products from market leaders are definitely on the horizon.

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