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LCD vs OLED displays: What’s the difference and which one is better

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LCD vs OLED display: Major difference and which one is better

Lately, a lot of manufacturers have been getting into the display manufacturing business with the new and emerging OLED technology.

Pretty much every TV sold today is based on LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology. This includes TVs labelled LED, UHD, SUHD or even QLED (Quantum Dot LED) TVs.

Televisions based on OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology work differently from LCD TVs. The most critical difference being, each pixel provides its own light or illumination and hence they don’t have to be backlit by LEDs like LCD/LED displays.

This major difference between the two leads to big picture quality differences and colour reproduction changes.

In this article, we will pitch both these display technologies against each other in different categories and find out what the difference is and which one is better.

Also read: Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: A DIY perspective

What is a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)?

LCD and LED displays are often thought of as different concepts, but they actually refer to identical display technology. In an LCD TV, liquid crystals rotate polarized light, effectively acting like a light switch that illuminates all pixels simultaneously. Instead of the pixel-by-pixel illumination of OLED TVs.

In a standard LCD TV, all light comes from a big LED powered backlight. The result is a uniformly bright, and relatively low contrast image.

What is an OLED display?

OLED uses an organic substance that glows when an electric current is introduced. This revolutionary material reduces the thickness and weight of the display, creating an ultra-thin, sleek form, superior colour reproduction, and individual pixels that switch off for true blacks.

How do OLED and AMOLED displays differ?

OLED stands for “Organic Light Emitting Diodes” and it works in a similar way to conventional diodes and LEDs, but instead of semiconductors, it uses a series of thin organic films to produce rich and vibrant colours with much darker pixels.

AMOLED is technically OLED with an additional layer of semiconducting film to activate each pixel more quickly. AMOLED stands for “Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode” and instead of a passive matrix technology, AMOLED uses an active matrix system which attaches a thin film transistor (TFT) to control the flow of current to each pixel.


Light output/Brightness

Both these display technologies do fairly well in this sector. LCD and OLED TVs produce more than enough brightness to view any content on them. But if you know which one gets brighter than the other, it has to be the LCD tech as they sport an array of LEDs which are used as background light which tends to get very bright.

Black colour reproduction

This category is critical for a display to portray its contrast level. Since OLED displays have the ability to individually shut pixels, the switched off pixels are just absolute black and hence produce pitch blacks instead of blown-out blacks like the LCD/LED displays produce.

Contrast ratio

Contrast level on a display plays an important role in how the final produced image looks. Having a large difference between the brightest and the darkest part of a display means the contrast ratio is good. The OLED displays just manage to do that and have the best contrast ratio of any display technology.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

Photo by Alexandru Acea

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is one latest technology that can significantly improve picture quality. It is a way to extend the range of the contrast ratio of a display.

Both these display tech have pretty good HDR compatibility. Both of them implement this technology surprisingly well. But, considering the OLED panels have darker blacks, it may look better on them.

Energy Consumption

The energy consumption of OLED displays is directly proportional to their brightness level. The brighter the pixels get, more the energy they consume. A dark movie will require lesser content than a movie with a lot of vibrance.

The energy consumption of LCD only varies depending on the backlight setting. The lower the backlight, the lower the power consumption.


OLED displays/TVs are sold at an expensive rate in the market due to their manufacturing cost and the tech that comes with it.

Whereas, LCD/LED TVs or displays are less expensive compared to the OLED models. It’s also worth considering that the top-of-the-line LCDs are often similar in price to OLED.

Which one is better?

If picture quality is your main forte which I guess should be for all displays, OLED Displays/TVs provide a much-enhanced user experience due to its high contrast ratio and excellent colour reproduction with deep blacks and vibrant rich colours.

Also read: 60Hz vs 120Hz vs 144Hz vs 240Hz displays

Rajiv Kulkarni

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