The Difference Between OLED and LCD Screens on Mobile Phones

The Difference Between OLED and LCD Screens on Mobile Phones

We try to explore the differences between LCD and OLED display technology, and the possible merits of either option.

Modern smartphones have increasingly become characterized by big and immersive screens, built to cater to our ever growing hunger for media consumption on the go. Because of that, the screen has grown (pun intended) to become one of the main factors we consider when shopping for a new phone.

These screens usually come in one of two flavours; OLED or LCD, and this article is focused on the difference between them both and which, if any, is better. But first of all let’s get to know each a little better.

OLED Screens

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. That’s basically a fancy way of saying that each pixel on an OLED screen consists of these very tiny “bulbs” usually arranged in groups of green, red and blue that light up to display various colours. Now the “organic” part of that name simply refers to the film that is placed between conductors in each LED that is used to produce the light when a current is passed.

Most of us have probably also heard the term AMOLED thrown about as well. It is a variation of the same OLED technology, but with an Active Matrix (AMOLED). The active matrix is a way to make the individual pixel control faster and more precise when compared to the Passive Matrix of a regular OLED display.

The major gain of OLED displays is the extremely precise level of control that is had on a per pixel basis. Being able to control the pixels individually means they can be completely turned off (to display deeper blacks), and because they don’t need filters and other layers as with LCDs, they usually have better contrast, brightness, and viewing angles.

OLED displays also super thin, which has made them vital in the ongoing foldable phone race.

LCD Screens

LCD stands for liquid crystal display,and it works in a much different way than OLED displays. Instead of using LEDs to make up each pixel, they instead rely on a backlight that then goes on to be filtered as their own source of light to display images on the display. 

This light from the LED backlight array is then polarized and passed through a crystal element. This crystal adjusts its angle based on the voltage that is passed through it, this light is then eventually passed through another filter array that has colour filters which are then grouped into pixels to display colours.

The Differences Between OLED and LCD 

So, what exactly is the difference between LCD and OLED screens on mobile phones? The basic difference is that OLEDs generate their own light individually per pixel to display colours/images, while LCDs rely on filtered light from a backlight array to display images of their own.

But what advantage does one have over the other? The granular control the OLEDs have makes them a lot more energy conservative, especially when displaying a predominantly dark image. Colour accuracy is another inherent advantage that OLEDs have over LCDs, as are better contrast ratio and higher screen brightness. It can be inferred that OLED displays are more pleasing to the eye.

As for LCDs, a major advantage is that they usually have a longer lifespan than OLEDs. They also don’t suffer from the colour degradation that happens to OLEDs over time due to the organic material involved in their manufacture. LCDs are also much cheaper to manufacture, so they usually end up in cheaper devices. 

So, Who Wins?

Picking a winner would be an objective task depending on the individual buying the gadget/phone. At least now you probably have a fair idea of what you’d be getting yourself into. Let us know in the comments which display technology you prefer and why. Also don’t hesitate to share this post to someone you think might find it useful.