What is OLED? Ultimate TV and iPhone screen you NEED to see

HEARD of OLED but not quite sure what it means? We've got a quick guide to the hot new screen tech.

It's already on loads of iPhones, Samsung handsets and TV models – so you might already have one without realising.

What is an OLED TV?

On a standard television or smartphone, you'll have an LCD (or liquid-crystal display) screen.

This means your screen contains loads of tiny crystals, which are illuminated by a giant backlight at the back of your telly or phone. When the crystals light up, you see an image – and that's television!

But OLED screens work in a slightly different way.

OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode, and it's a way of describing the type of screen on your TV or phone.

It's basically an organic compound that emits light when you pass an electric current through it.

This means your OLED screen doesn't need a big old backlight, because the pixels on your screen light up on their own.

If you've got an iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 12, you've got an OLED screen.

Why is OLED better than a normal TV?

The simple answer is yes.

OLED screens are generally better than conventional LED-backlit LCD displays.

For a start, they're much more power-efficient. That's because you're not paying to power a huge backlight that sucks up loads of energy.

But the lack of backlight also means that OLED screens can be much thinner.

The big advantage of OLED is the picture quality improvement.

On a normal TV, you're never really seeing true black, because there's a backlight.

On OLED screens, individual pixels can be turned off completely, or dimmed significantly, so you'll see much more accurate blacks during dark TV or movie scenes.

Generally, this means OLED screens offer a wider range of lights, darks, and colours overall.

You can get great OLED TVs from the likes of LG and Panasonic, or a similarly high-quality QLED screen from Samsung.

OLED TV – what it's really like

Your standard 4K telly will show loads of detail.

And a good TV with HDR will offer decent contrast and range of colours.

But on OLED, what you'll immediately notice is the deep blacks.

Switching an OLED iPhone on, it's impressive to see the Apple logo shining from absolute darkness.

That's in contrast to older models where it was against a muted grey.

This translates to movies and HDR videos fantastically.

The Sun’s TV testing unit

The Sun uses aPanasonic 65HZ1000 to test PS5 and Xbox games, new streaming apps and devices, and new types of content:

  • Panasonic 65HZ1000 TV
  • OLED screen
  • HDR
  • Dolby Vision / HDR10+
  • Dolby Vision IQ
  • 4K / HD

Panasonic 65HZ1000 at Richer Sounds – buy here

I've been testing a Panasonic 65HZ1000 OLED TV, and the depth of the blacks is incredible.

I lost around an hour just watching YouTube videos designed for OLED TVs, with pin-sharp objects set against total darkness.

Worth it.

Even in an animated film like Moana, the dark areas of scenes are brilliantly detailed – due to the range of tones visible.

And in a space movie like Gravity, I was wowed by the total darkness of space. It made it even more terrifying.

OLED absolutely adds a new dimension to content you're watching.

The bad news is that it usually tacks on a premium, with OLED screens typically costing four figures rather than three.

But they're now in reach of many, and the price is falling fast.

In the next few years, OLED TVs will become much more affordable, and more common by extension.

In other news, The Sun's favourite alternative to a games console is the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset.

Grab a VR headset and you'll be able to play the legendary Beat Saber – like Guitar Hero, but with lightsabers.

And Dell's Alienware R10 Ryzen Edition is a gaming PC powerhouse that crushes both the new consoles.

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