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QLED Vs. OLED: The Key Differences Explained

Although these two acronyms look almost exactly alike, the difference between QLED and OLED is an important question for people who are looking for a new television or computer monitor. QLED is a relatively new branding term created by Samsung that gives the impression that it is similar to OLED, although this is not quite true. The following guide will shed light on how these two technologies differ and help you decide which is right for your viewing tastes.

QLED quantum dot tv display innovation technology abstract composition.

QLED Vs. OLED: Side-By-Side Comparison

Primarily produced bySamsungLG
BrandsSamsung, TCL, Hisense, SharpAll OLED panels are manufactured by LG, although other companies produce TVs that use the panels, including Sony, Panasonic, and Hisense
Consumer television release dateSamsung branded the first QLED products in 2017The first mass-produced OLED TVs entered the market in 2013
Invented byProfessor Alexei Ekimov created the first quantum dots that influenced the development and branding of QLED TVs decades laterChing Wan Tang and Steven Van Slyke
SizesQLED TVs range from 32-inch to 82-inchOLED TVs range from 48-inch to 88-inch
ResolutionMost displays are 4K, and 8K TVs are not hard to findAlmost all are 4K, and 8K TVs are very rare
LG Ultra HD HDR10 Smart OLED Premium TV on display, at LG exhibition pavilion showroom, stand at Global Innovations Show IFA 2018.

©Grzegorz Czapski/Shutterstock.com

QLED Vs. OLED: 5 Must-Know Facts and Key Points

  • OLED display technology has its roots in the work of Chemists Ching Wan Tang and Steven Van Slyke at Eastman Kodak who created the first usable display of this type in 1987.
  • Most televisions on the market use essentially the same technology in a QLED display which is a type of LED (light-emitting diode) TV.
  • OLED televisions use a unique technology with nearly microscopic pixels that produce their own light source. All other types of televisions use a backlight panel behind the screen to provide a light source.
  • OLED panels are very thin, enabling some of them to be bendable or hung on a wall like one would a poster
  • Samsung, the company that created the brand name QLED, has rebranded them as Neo-QLED to indicate a major upgrade of the technology for 2021.


Image Quality

One of the most important factors for a lifelike picture is contrast. To render a realistic image, you need to be able to display all colors and all light levels from total dark to extremely bright. Since OLED TVs don’t need a backlight to light the individual pixels, dark pixels can be completely black. This lends a striking depth to images, especially when viewed in a dimly lit room.

However, when you’re viewing in a bright room, the magic of OLED is not as striking. In this case, the backlit technology of a QLED screen can create an overall better viewing experience. When it comes to High Dynamic Range color (HDR), OLED tends to perform better because it displays many more shades of dark directly adjacent to bright pixels for a superior sense of definition and color sharpness.

Since QLED is essentially the same as LED, it has the same problem of a lack of uniformity of darkness or brightness across the panel. This is especially obvious when viewing an image that is intended to be all black or dark grey. On a QLED screen, the lighted areas of the display shine through at different spots, especially when you’re watching a dark scene in a dark room. OLED Screens don’t have this problem because they don’t have backlights. When the screen is displaying a solid black image, an OLED TV looks as if it has been turned off.

Viewing angle is another important factor in picture quality that people tend not to consider until they’re viewing a TV model for the first time. On an OLED screen, there is no degradation of contrast or color definition when viewing on an angle. On a QLED screen, the backlight is shining directly forward, so the image is always better viewed straight on, and the image is not as good when you’re positioned at an angle to the screen.

QLED features

The proprietary QLED technology created by Samsung stands for “quantum dot light-emitting diode.” The term “quantum” in this context is meant to denote a very small particle. This can be somewhat misleading because QLED does not have pixels that are individually lit or darkened as one would have on an OLED, but the QLED branding is meant to imply that the picture quality can produce color and contrast compared to an OLED television.

The technical feature that enhances a QLED set over a normal LED product is a layer behind the screen that enhances the image. The metallic “quantum dot filter” enhances the contrast and color of the image. Samsung changed the branding of QLED to “Neo QLED” this year to imply that the technology has been significantly improved by a much more elaborate array of backlights that provide more even lighting and viewing angles. New QLED sets are also slated to provide HDMI 2.1 and 120Hz refresh rates on all TVs. Some of the latest QLED TVs come in 8K resolution, but most are still 4K sets.

OLED Features

OLED televisions are the only mainstream products that don’t use standard LED (light-emitting diode) technology to produce images on the screen. Instead, these displays contain organic LEDs. The main difference is that the individual pixels emit their own light, and the sets don’t require a backlight to light the pixels. This provides a big advantage for contrast and color sharpness because the screens can have totally black pixels right next to very bright pixels. The individually lit pixels also produce the same light, color and contrast no matter what angle one is viewing the image from, providing a viewing angle of 180 degrees.

Because there is no backlight in an OLED panel, it is typically much thinner than other types of televisions. This enables some models to be bendable or to be affixed to a wall like a poster. Without the need for a backlight, these TVs are also more energy-efficient. The one drawback of OLED is that it has not gained as much widespread adoption by consumers, and this has consequently limited the number of manufacturers who sell them, and there are not as many size options available.

Gaming on OLED versus QLED

Visitors are seen playing a Samsung Qled gaming monitor at the 21st ACGHK2019 Ani-Com & Games event in Hong Kong.

©Daniel Fung/Shutterstock.com

For image quality in gaming, the same factors that are relevant for television viewing also apply to graphics quality in gaming scenarios. OLED is capable of impressive contrast, especially when the game is rendering dark environments. People who prefer to play in sunlit rooms might prefer a QLED screen for the increased overall brightness. OLED’s superior viewing angle is less of an issue for gaming because players tend to sit directly in front of the monitor.

In gaming, the pixel response time, which is the speed that a pixel can change color, becomes more important. A player is very attentive and involved with what’s happening on the screen, and the control input needs to match what the player sees. QLED pixel response times are impressively quick at 2 to 8 milliseconds, but OLED technology tends to be even faster, as quick as 0.1 milliseconds.

When it comes to input lag, which is the time that it takes for a monitor to react to the control input from the user, OLED doesn’t have a technical advantage over QLED, and the same is true for refresh rates. As for screen resolution, neither technology has an edge. 4K is usually the standard when gaming on televisions, while 1440p and 1080p are more common and practical for gaming on computer monitors.

QLED Vs. OLED: Which One Is Better?

OLED is technically a more advanced solution that creates infinite contrast and individually lit pixels, but all consumers may not feel that the higher price tag is justified. QLED could be more appealing to people who like to watch TV in sunlit rooms, and it’s also available in a wider variety of sizes at more affordable prices. For budget and midrange shoppers, QLED is probably a better value, but, if you want the best realism and image quality, you would probably prefer the quality of an OLED display.

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QLED vs OLED: Full Comparison FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is QLED?

QLED is an acronym that stands for Quantum-Dot Light Emitting Diode. It’s a term used by Samsung to market a new type of LED TV that uses a filter between the backlight and the screen to increase the color definition of the pixels.

What is OLED?

OLED is an acronym that stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. A brief explanation of this is that each of the pixels on OLED TVs emits its own light, and there is no backlight in an OLED panel.

Which is better, QLED or OLED?

The answer depends on what type of viewing you prefer, but OLED produces a more lifelike picture, while QLED displays provide more adequate brightness in sunlit rooms.

Is OLED worth it over QLED?

For people who want the most lifelike images, OLED would be worth the extra expense. Otherwise, QLED offers a high-quality image and is probably a better value for most people without the most discriminating tastes.

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