MicroLED vs. OLED TV: Which is better?

Source: LG

When deciding on a new TV one of the key choices is between screen technologies:

  • OLED TVs have the best picture but are also the most expensive
  • QLED TVs get the brightest and offer the best value
  • LED TVs still offer high quality and are the most affordable
  • MicroLED and Mini-LED are the newest TV technologies

If OLED TVs are currently the best and MicroLED are the newest, are MicroLED TVs better than OLED?

What is MicroLED?

MicroLED TV screens are very similar to OLED TV screens in how they work: each individual pixel is able to turn on and off and change colors independently. This allows the screen to display deep blacks and bright colors in pixels sitting directly next to each other, giving the picture a more life-like re-creation.

The difference between MicroLED and OLED TVs is the technology used to power the pixels individually. OLED TVs use self-emissive organic light emitting diodes. MicroLED TVs are also self-emissive, but use non-organic LEDs to power the pixels (three LEDs for each pixel).

Why is MicroLED better than OLED?

There are a few reasons that MicroLED screens are better than OLED:

  • Brightness & Contrast
  • Burn-in and Lifespan
  • Efficiency

Although both screens can achieve perfect black by turning pixels off individually, MicroLED pixels are able to get brighter than OLED pixels. That means a higher contrast picture that’s more impressive.

One common criticism of OLED screens are that they can suffer from burn-in if you leave the TV on for too long with the same image (video game menus, news station logos, etc…). Although these critiques are often exaggerated there is an underlying truth: the organic nature of OLED pixels result in fading over time. Simply put, MicroLED TVs last longer than OLED TVs.

Lastly, MicroLED is a feat of engineering that stuffs smaller pixels into smaller areas with less surrounding technology needed to display the image. The result is less power consumption and thinner TVs. For this reason, MicroLED screens could also be used as an “Always On Display” that transforms a room with art, information, or other features.

Why is OLED better than MicroLED?

The biggest advantage that OLED TVs currently have over MicroLED TVs is price. MicroLED TVs are very difficult to manufacture and as an emerging technology the tech is found in very few consumer-ready TV sets. Manufacturing costs are driven by volume; OLED TVs are more affordable because their volume of sales far outpace that of MicroLED screens. That advantage won’t last forever.

Theoretically, MicroLED TVs should be cheaper to manufacture because of their pixel uniformity: MicroLED pixel sizes remain constant regardless of the TV size whereas OLED pixel sizes change depending on the TV size. This gives MicroLED TVs an advantage in terms of scaling the manufacturing process.

Best MicroLED TVs Available

Samsung “The Wall”

The shining poster child of MicroLED TVs has been “The Wall” by Samsung. First debuting at CES 2017, Samsung has released a new iteration of the concept TV each year, inching ever-closer to a consumer reality. The Wall currently has 3 different sizes: 88-inches, 146-inches, and 292-inches.

Samsung claims that The Wall has an LED lifetime of 100,000 hours, which means it could run continuously for 11+ years before it’s time to move on. Pretty impressive!

LG Magnit

First introduced in October 2020, LG’s first MicroLED screen is equally as impressive as Samsung’s Wall. Although LG is the king of OLED, they’ve clearly got their eyes on the future, not wanting to lose any ground on innovation. For now, their MicroLED displays like the LG Magnit are for commercial purposes only. (See at LG)

Apple TV

Source: Apple

You don’t typically see Apple leading the market in terms of innovation. The tech titan has a long, proven history of letting others lead the way, then following up with the most polished version of a technology that becomes the industry standard.

Although a fully functioning big screen Apple TV (not just a set top box) has long been rumored, we’re not likely to see it come in this generation of OLED televisions. However, rumors that Apple will adopt MicroLED tech into their 2023/2024 Apple Watch indicates they’re working with the technology, so anything is possible.

The Future of MicroLED

For now, MicroLED TVs are too expensive to make sense for everyone except Bruce Wayne. However, in a handful of years, MicroLED TVs are likely to dominate the market. Their ability to achieve perfect blacks, with brighter brights, at ultra-wide viewing angles, with thinner screens and bezels, while lasting years longer than the alternatives make MicroLED TVs the most favorable TV technology of the future.

Early adopters hold onto your wallet… you’ve got a few years before this becomes a reality worth affording.