Samsung QLED vs LG OLED: Differences, Quality, Better Option

Changing only one letter “O” to the letter “Q” in the name of these technologies plays a huge role.

Samsung uses QLED technology in its best TVs, including this 8K model.

The two rival manufacturers use a very similar acronym to describe their top TVs. But QLED and OLED are as different from each other as a leopard is from a lion.

samsung qled vs lg oled
samsung qled vs lg oled

The company Samsung is the most popular brand among televisions in the world 2 years QLED uses the term to promote their models. The 2019 QLED line is the largest in the company’s history and includes 28 different models combined into seven series. From 249cm 8K monsters to artwork-inspired TVs, QLED represents the culmination of Samsung’s engineering efforts to satisfy customers.

But this is not about the culmination of image quality. In this regard, OLED technology has the palm.

Based on numerous comparative tests, we have concluded that LG’s OLED TVs deliver better overall picture quality than Samsung’s QLED TVs. For example, compare the 2018 Samsung Q9 QLED with the 2019 LG C9 OLED, in which the latter convincingly wins. What’s more, the C9 delivers the best picture quality we’ve ever tested on a TV. In fact, even the 2018 LG B8 stands a notch above the Samsung model. That said, we admit that the Q9 is a great model, delivering the best outside OLED picture quality we’ve tested. But it does not owe this to the QLED technology.
In June 2019, we got acquainted with the mid-range model Samsung Q70, which left an excellent impression. We haven’t tested the premium 2019 QLED models Q80 and Q90 yet, but if we were asked to place bets, our choice would still be for OLED, although Samsung has made a number of improvements to the lineup this year. And that’s why.

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Samsung QLED Vs LG OLED Technologies Difference

Let’s briefly go over the main points of the two technologies.

  • OLED stands for organic light emitting diode.
  • QLED stands for Quantum dot LED TV.
  • OLED technology is fundamentally different from LCD technology, which is the most widespread technology in TV production today.
  • QLED is a variation on LCD and LED technologies that adds quantum dot film to a sandwich screen.
  • OLED technology is based on self-emitting, i.e. each pixel emits its own light.
  • QLED technology in its current form, along with LCD, is based on light transmission, i.e. the screen relies on backlighting.

The main takeaway is that QLED technology is closer to the old traditional LCD technology than OLED. We, along with most experts, classify OLED TVs as a completely separate class, which, for example, was the class of plasma panels at one time.

Quantum dots are microscopic elements that emit their own light of different colors when they are exposed to ambient light. In QLED models, quantum dots are embedded in a film illuminated by a back-lit diode backlight. The light then traverses several other layers within the screen, including liquid crystal (LCD), to create a picture. Diodes transmit light through several layers to the surface of the screen, which is why we say that the process is based on the transmission of light.

This is what a “sandwich” of layers looks like on an LCD TV, in which the backlight from the light-emitting diodes passes through the film with quantum dots and continues until it reaches the LCD screen.

Samsung has been using quantum dot technology to improve LCD quality in its TVs since 2015, and the QLED TV brand first appeared in 2017. The company says that quantum dot technology has evolved over time, with gradual improvements in light and color parameters, for example. But, in our opinion, the positive changes from the use of quantum dots are not as obvious as from other qualitative factors (more on that below).

Some other LCD TV manufacturers also use quantum dot technology, such as TCL and Vizio, but do not use the term QLED TV.

OLED and LCD are completely different things

LCD has been the dominant technology in flat-panel TVs for quite some time. It provides a lower cost price than OLED technology, especially when it comes to wide diagonals, and a huge number of manufacturers around the world, including LG, are using it successfully.

OLED models do not need backlighting, which, along with improved picture quality, results in an amazingly thin panel.

OLED technology is different in that it does not use backlighting as a light source. The millions of individual pixels that make up an image produce light themselves. That is why we say that radiation is at the heart of the process. This distinctive feature affects all image parameters, mainly in a positive direction with respect to QLED.

OLED technology is also used by Panasonic, Philips, and Sony. However, the panels for all of them are made by LG Display.

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Samsung QLED Vs LG OLED picture quality comparison

Based on our experience, we have made a generalized comparison of the two technologies.
The picture quality of a QLED screen varies more than an OLED screen. 

In the line of Samsung, there are many series, among which the most expensive ones clearly stand out against the background of the cheaper ones. And the reason is that the improved picture quality in premium models has nothing to do with quantum dot technology. 2019 models such as the Q70, Q80 and Q90 are distinguished by full local dimming, higher peak brightness, and wider viewing angles, which puts them up a notch above models without these additional features, such as the Q60.

samsung qled vs lg oled picture quality comparison
samsung qled vs lg oled picture quality

In the meantime, all the OLED models we tested have similar and excellent picture quality. Of course, there are some variations, but not as significant as in the QLED line.

OLED technology provides better black levels and better contrast

One of the most important pictures quality parameters is the black level. The OLED’s emitting design means unused pixels are turned off completely to achieve literally infinite contrast. Even the very best QLED / LCD TVs, which use the most effective full local dimming, allow some light to pass through the entire screen surface, which blurs and brightens black tones somewhat and makes highlights appear blurry.

QLED TVs are brighter

The best examples of LCD and QLED panels show higher brightness than any OLED TV, which is an important advantage when watching HDR programs or when the TV is located in a bright room. However, OLED TVs provide sufficient brightness in most interiors, and their excellent contrast ratios mean even better overall HDR picture quality than any QLED / LCD model.

uniform picture quality

OLED TVs produce more uniform picture quality across the screen area and have wider viewing angles. 

On LCD screens, some areas may appear brighter than others on a permanent basis, and the backlight pattern may be noticeable in some scenes. Even the best LCD samples fade, lose contrast and color when viewed unless you are in the best position right in front of the screen. OLED TVs have flawlessly uniform quality across the entire screen and provide quality viewing from different angles.

Color, resolution, video processing and other image quality parameters are practically similar in both technologies. Most OLED and QLED TVs are 4K today, and newer TVs are capable of 8K. When it comes to color and video processing, neither technology has a clear advantage.
QLED TVs come in more size variety (and lower price tag)

diagonal sizes

OLED TVs are offered in only four diagonal sizes: 140 cm, 165 cm, 195 cm and 223 cm. Since the price tag for the last two sizes is quite high, most buyers can only choose between the first two diagonals.

At the same time, Samsung QLED models are offered with diagonals 109 cm, 124 cm, 140 cm, 165 cm, 190 cm, 208 cm, 216 cm and, of course, 249 cm. And simple LCD models can be even smaller.
In terms of size, QLED and LCD technology have one major advantage in terms of cost for panels over 165cm. Large screens are the fastest-growing segment of the market today. In the meantime, there is a 3-fold difference in price for LG OLED models with a diagonal of 195 cm and a Samsung QLED with a diagonal of 190 cm in size, not in favor of OLED. Even if QLED is slightly inferior in quality, it is still a great choice for a third of the price of its competitor.

The best premium 140cm and 165cm QLED models like the 8K Q90 or Q900A cost little more than mid-range OLED TVs. There are also inexpensive QLED series, albeit with lower image quality.

OLED burnout: truth or myth?

Burnout occurs when the same picture is displayed on the same area of ​​the screen for a long time. For example, a TV channel logo, a news line or a sports event board the echo of these fragments can remain on the screen like a ghost, no matter what program you are watching. All OLED screens are susceptible to fading, and in this respect they are more vulnerable than LCD displays, including QLED.

All things considered, burn-in is still not a problem for most OLED owners. From our many years of experience, we can conclude that you need to try very hard to keep a permanent static element (for example, a TV channel logo) on the screen for a long time and on a regular basis. That is, you have to leave on, for example, the sports channel ESPN for many hours every day, while very rarely switching to other channels. But if you change programs from time to time, which is the usual viewing mode for most of the audience, the risk of burnout will be reduced to almost zero.

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future of Samsung QLED Vs LG OLED technologies

Samsung’s premium QLED models have made significant headway in image quality this year in an effort to stay ahead of their main competitor, while LG has offered little more than improved video processing. The C9 is not that far removed from its predecessors. The same can be said for Sony OLED TVs. But based on the fundamental advantages of OLED, the 2019 QLED lineup as a whole still can’t quite compete with rival technology.

What are the future prospects for QLED and OLED TVs? Samsung is developing a new version of QLED using self-emitting diodes similar to OLEDs and plasma panels, known as direct-view quantum dot technology. The novelty will lack a liquid crystal layer, and the quantum dots will become the light source directly.

Pixel-emitting QLED technology promises to achieve the same deep black levels and the highest contrast ratios as OLED while delivering the best energy efficiency, color, and more. The news is quite interesting, but it will take many years before this technology reaches the consumer.

Much more realistic is another technology MicroLED, also initiated by Samsung. It is also based on self-emitting diodes, and this development is already very close to commercial launch. As the name suggests, the technology uses millions of microscopic emitting LEDs as pixels. MicroLED has good potential to achieve the same deep blacks as OLEDs but without the risk of burn-in. At the same time, brightness will be provided at a level inaccessible to any of today’s technologies, the widest color gamut, huge viewing angles, and high uniformity of screen quality.

Meanwhile, OLED confidently holds the lead in image quality over QLED. And the situation is unlikely to change until someone decides to integrate the two technologies.