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Why LCDs can be as good as OLEDs

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The perception these days is that a gadget is cutting edge if it doesn’t have an OLED screen but before OLED screens, everyone used to insist on LCD screens. As time has gone by, the perception is that OLEDs are superior to LCDs. Or, to some, the perception is that OLED panels are more expensive than LCD panels. However, is this true, or is this a perception that has been formed based on statements rather than personal use? Well, you might be shocked to hear that the latter is where we stand by when it comes to LCDs. So, let us try to debunk the statement “OLEDs are better than LCDs” Before starting this, however, why not compare OLEDs and LCDs, followed by why this perception does not hold in all situations.

AMOLEDs Vs LCD

The first technology that we will be discussing is AMOLED or OLED. In case you were wondering why the name OLED, the reason for this is the fact that these displays use a key component known as Light Emitting Diode. Without getting into what OLEDs are (since that will result in a lengthy article), let us list out the pros of using an OLED or AMOLED panel. The major pros of using an OLED/AMOLED panel is the reproduction of saturated colours, consumption of less power and, the pixels are thinner and lighter. This might seem to be quite great, however, there are some major cons related to OLEDs. The colours are not quite accurate and a poorly tuned OLED panel can result in an unpleasant viewing experience. Another major issue is that the OLED/ AMOLED panel’s lifetime is dependent on the current density of pixels, whereas the smaller sub-pixels result in a shorter life, meaning there are more reliability issues when compared to LCDs. Now, coming to LCDs. 

In an LCD panel, the light is produced by something known as a backlight. There are a series of thin films, transparent mirrors and an array of white LED lights that shine and reflect light across the back of the display. Some major pros of using an LCD are the production of brighter whites, true to life accurate colours, the reliability factor and better viewing angles. While all these advantages seem great, even LCDs have issues inherent to the technology. LCDs invariably have thicker panels, blacks aren’t so deep and they can’t be bent or curved to provide modern features like an in-display fingerprint sensor. Making a foldable is not possible with LCDs. 

Moving on, there is a perception even in the budget segment, that an OLED and more importantly an AMOLED panel is much better than an LCD panel, found for the same price. While you now know the pros and cons of both, you ought to know that displays are meant for certain tasks. For example, if you edit photos or like display calibration, an LCD is easier to fix and use out of the box, but, for the best viewing experience, in terms of media consumption, and AMOLED might be your preference, but this also happens with caveats. 

Well, the most important thing to note is that a poorly calibrated AMOLED panel is nowhere near as good as a similarly priced LCD panel. The reason for this is, in a poorly calibrated AMOLED, the viewing angles might not be as good as an LCD, the colours may be all over the place which belies realism to an extreme degree.

Cheap AMOLED panels also suffer from the issue of burn-in, something that is a common characteristic of OLEDs for a long time. This makes their reliability. OLED screens are inherently more expensive which also means that making a high-refresh-rate panel is harder at an affordable price.

For the price that an OLED panel can be had in the 15-20k segment, a brand can equip a similarly priced LCD panel touting device with a 90Hz refresh rate or even a 120Hz refresh rate panel. This is also applicable to the higher segment, wherein usually, brands choose the OLED+90Hz route, but, brands can choose the 144Hz refresh rate option with a good LCD panel for the same price or even cheaper. As LCD technology is more mature, the simple truth is making a device with a better LCD is cheaper and easier for most brands. 

So far, you might still be confused in regards to which kind of panel is better. Well, to put it simply, OLEDs are mostly useful for multi-media consumption while watching movies, whereas an LCD is cheaper, more reliable, more accurate in terms of colours and one can opt for a higher refresh rate for the same kind of price. This results in a win for the LCD panel, and, most importantly one must always remember, a poorly tuned OLED panel is worse than an LCD panel and the inclusion of an AMOLED/OLED panel does not make said device better.

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