OLED display burn-in: Find out how to forestall it (and why you should not be apprehensive)

OLED screen burn-in: What you need to know in 2021

Any OLED display, whether or not it’s a TV, smartphone or Nintendo Swap, will be susceptible to burn-in underneath excessive circumstances.

David Katzmaier/CNET

From telephones to TVs, if you’d like the most effective picture high quality, OLED is the best way to go. OLED TVs from LG and Sony are commonly on our record of finest TVs. Excessive-end telephones from Google, Samsung and Apple have OLED screens and look nice. Even some laptops, tablets and the newest Nintendo Swap have OLED screens. These beautiful photos and glorious distinction ratio include a possible drawback: burn-in. Burn-in is when a part of a picture — navigation buttons on a cellphone, for instance, or a channel emblem, information ticker or a scoreboard on a TV — persists as a ghostly background it doesn’t matter what else seems onscreen. 

Burn-in is a risk with OLED. Apple’s help web page for the OLED-screen iPhones touts that they have been designed to cut back the consequences of OLED burn-in, even because it acknowledges that it may possibly happen in “excessive circumstances.” Google’s Pixel cellphone help web page says burn-in can occur “when the identical picture stays in your display for a very long time at a excessive brightness” and recommends steps to cut back it. 

Within the TV world, LG has a web page that claims “It’s uncommon for a mean TV client to create an surroundings that might lead to burn-in.” Nonetheless, tales of OLED burn-in do not appear uncommon on-line, with homeowners on YouTube, boards and social media reporting the problem. Critiques web site RTings has demonstrated burn-in on LG OLED TVs in long-term exams. 

The actual fact is that every one natural light-emitting diode screens can expertise burn-in, and from all the things we all know, they’re extra inclined than customary liquid crystal shows (LCDs), which in the intervening time are each mainstream TV that is not OLED. However those self same OLED screens produce higher picture high quality than LCDs.

So if the worry of the mere risk of burn-in is your major concern, the choice is easy: Purchase an LCD-based show as an alternative. However know that you just’re sacrificing the most effective image high quality that cash can purchase. Listed below are some factors to bear in mind:

  • Burn-in is feasible with OLED, however not possible with regular use.
  • Most “burn-in” is definitely picture retention, which works away after a couple of minutes.
  • You will nearly actually see picture retention lengthy earlier than it turns into everlasting burn-in.
  • Typically talking, burn-in is one thing to concentrate on, however not fear about.

Burn-in will be attributable to leaving a single picture on-screen for a really very long time.

Is display burn-in nonetheless an issue? Not for most individuals

All issues thought-about, burn-in should not be an issue for most individuals. That is why we at CNET proceed to suggest OLED-based TVs, telephones and different units in our critiques. From all the proof we have seen, burn-in is often attributable to leaving a single, static picture component, like a channel emblem, on-screen for a really very long time, repeatedly. 

For those who, like most individuals, watch quite a lot of content material in your TV, cellphone, or different machine with an OLED display, you are not going to wish to fret about burn-in. 

Find out how to keep away from burn-in on an OLED display


Brett Pearce/CNET

What are you able to do to forestall burn-in on that new TV? As we talked about, fluctuate what you watch a bit. Specifically, do not watch one thing that has the identical static areas displayed on-screen, nonstop for days on finish. 

The logos and information tickers on cable information channels are examples of these static areas — they’ve parts that by no means transfer, they usually stay on display the whole time you are watching. Which means if you happen to go away your TV operating Fox Information, CNN, MSNBC or ESPN all day lengthy and do not watch sufficient different programming, you are extra more likely to get burn-in. Or at the least, picture retention, which we’ll talk about in a second. For those who play the identical sport for 8 hours a day, day-after-day, the on-screen standing show or HUD can be a possible perpetrator for burn-in.

To repeat, you’ll be able to watch these channels, play video games or no matter else to make use of your TV as a TV, your cellphone as a cellphone, and many others. You simply should not watch solely these channels, all day day-after-day. And if that sounds excessive, know that emails I’ve gotten from readers about burn-in at all times have some variation on “nicely I solely watched that channel for five hours a day.” If that sounds such as you, get an LCD. 

So long as you fluctuate what’s displayed, chances are high you may by no means expertise burn-in. That different content material will age your display evenly. So in a 24-hour interval you watch a film, play some video games, binge some TV reveals, they’re all different sufficient that try to be nice.

The RTings torture check we talked about above lasted the equal of 5 years of use they usually nonetheless say “Our stance stays the identical, we do not count on most individuals who watch different content material with out static areas to expertise burn-in points with an OLED TV.”

Nintendo Swap OLED: What to learn about burn-in in your gaming console’s display

Nintendo Switch

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Nintendo up to date its beloved Swap handheld gaming console with just a few enhancements, together with an OLED display. This presents a much better picture than the pretty unimpressive display on the unique Swap. As you have learn above, video games are one of many potential points that might result in picture retention or, worst case, burn-in. This is what Nintendo needed to say after we requested about burn-in:

We have designed the OLED display to purpose for longevity as a lot as doable, however OLED shows can expertise picture retention if subjected to static visuals over an extended time frame. Nevertheless, customers can take preventative measures to protect the display [by] using options included within the Nintendo Swap programs by default, resembling auto-brightness perform to forestall the display from getting too shiny, and the auto-sleep perform to enter ‘auto sleep’ mode after brief intervals of time. 

Which is to say, Nintendo is absolutely conscious of this potential and took steps to attenuate the chance. Additionally, regardless of many video games having static HUDs, you’d have to play simply that one sport, for hours upon hours, day-after-day with out ever utilizing the display for the rest, on the highest brightness settings. 

But when that is you, and also you commonly play just one sport all day day-after-day for weeks with brightness set to max, get the non-OLED model of the Swap, which is cheaper anyway. For everybody else, the higher picture high quality of the OLED model is perhaps definitely worth the improve. 

Learn extra: Nintendo Swap OLED display burn-in: Why you should not be apprehensive

Picture retention vs. burn-in: What is the distinction?

Let’s get the descriptions proper. Although usually used interchangeably, “picture retention” and “burn-in” should not the identical factor. 

  • Picture retention is non permanent: It goes away in time.
  • Burn-in is everlasting: It doesn’t go away.

Picture retention happens when elements of a picture quickly “stick” on the display after that picture is gone. For example for an hour you are taking a look at a nonetheless image of a white pet (hey, you do you, we can’t choose). Then you definitely resolve to look at a film. For example Greatest in Present since you’re holding together with your theme. However as you are watching you’ll be able to nonetheless see the white pet picture, as if it is a ghost on the display, observing your soul.

You are not loopy, most likely. That is simply an excessive case of picture retention. Chances are high it’s going to go away by itself as you watch stuff that is not the identical nonetheless picture of the pet.

This is a bit of a 2018 LG C8 OLED TV display displaying a grey check sample after 5 hours watching CNN on the brightest (Vivid) mode. They’re the identical picture, however we have circled the part with the emblem on the suitable to spotlight it. To see it higher, flip up the brightness. In individual, it is extra seen in a darkish room, however a lot much less seen with shifting photos versus a check sample. Because it disappeared after operating LG’s Pixel Refresher (see under), that is an instance of picture retention and never burn-in.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Now think about you permit your TV on for days or perhaps weeks as an alternative of hours, exhibiting the identical picture the entire time. Then you definitely is perhaps in hassle. With picture retention, normally simply watching one thing else for some time will make the ghost picture disappear. With burn-in, it should stay there for some time. Perhaps not without end, however maybe longer than you’d need.

That is an excessive case, largely simply for example what occurs. In actuality, it should be much more refined. Watch quite a lot of the identical TV information station, like CNN within the instance above? Unsure how your coronary heart can deal with that, however for instance you do. That station’s figuring out emblem is a primary candidate for picture retention and ultimately burn-in. Ditto the horizontal borders of the “crawl” on the underside of the display.

For those who play the identical online game for hours and days on finish, that sport’s persistent scoreboard or heads-up show may burn in. Mainly, something that stays on display for a very long time and does not change could cause picture retention and maybe, ultimately, burn-in.

Together with your cellphone, the working system itself is likely one of the almost certainly candidates to trigger the problem. My [Geoff’s] 2015 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge ($300 at Amazon) began to get burn-in after a couple of 12 months. It began exhibiting up very subtly, however after 18 months I wager most individuals would have observed it. The highest data bar the place the notifications seem, and the decrease third the place the keyboard would present, did not age as a lot because the remaining center space. Because it was brighter, the center space aged sooner, so it “burned in” extra. I observed the distinction if I used to be watching one thing full display, a video say, and the picture went to a strong coloration. Nevertheless, after 2+ years with a Pixel 2 (not the XL), which additionally has an OLED display, no burn-in was obvious. Six years on with the S6 Edge, now within the not-so-careful fingers of a good friend, the burn-in does not appear to have gotten any worse in comparison with mid-2017.

Apple, for one, flags customers of OLED-screened iPhones, just like the X, 11 and 12, that burn-in is a risk. This is the quote from its help web page for the merchandise:

With prolonged long-term use, OLED shows may present slight visible modifications. That is additionally anticipated habits and might embrace “picture persistence” or “burn-in,” the place the show reveals a faint remnant of a picture even after a brand new picture seems on the display. This may happen in additional excessive circumstances resembling when the identical excessive distinction picture is constantly displayed for extended intervals of time. We have engineered the Tremendous Retina and Tremendous Retina XDR shows to be the most effective within the business in lowering the consequences of OLED “burn-in.”

What’s colloquially referred to as “burn-in” is definitely, with OLED, uneven growing old. They do not “burn in” as a lot as they “burn down.” The candle that burns twice as shiny burns half as lengthy, proper? OLED pixels very, very slowly get dimmer as they’re used. Usually this is not a difficulty because you’re watching different content material and all of the pixels, on common, get used the identical quantity. However if you happen to’re solely watching one factor, that one factor might trigger uneven put on. Visually, and within the vernacular, this put on known as “burn-in.” Uneven put on is extra correct, but additionally much more syllables.

Additionally, OLED expertise has gotten higher. Billions of {dollars} have been spent on OLED manufacturing and R&D, and that is ongoing. So tales you could have heard about “burn-in” possible entered the zeitgeist years in the past about older OLED shows. You simply do not hear about newer OLEDs having these points besides in excessive conditions like these mentioned above. You’d possible hear a LOT extra tales about OLED now that the 2 largest cellphone producers, and lots of smaller ones, use OLEDs in tens of millions of telephones and have for years. 

Display burn-in is (normally) not lined underneath guarantee

Of their warranties, LG and Sony explicitly state that picture retention and burn-in should not lined on their OLED TVs. When CNET reached out to LG a pair to ask why, a consultant replied: 

“There’s usually no guarantee protection for picture retention by TV corporations and show producers. Picture retention might consequence when customers are out of regular viewing circumstances, and most producers don’t help guarantee for such utilization no matter the kind of show,” mentioned Tim Alessi, director of recent merchandise at LG.

Sony’s reply was comparable: “Our guarantee covers product and manufacturing defects. Burn-in shouldn’t be lined as it’s attributable to client utilization and isn’t a product defect.”

Neither the iPhone guarantee nor AppleCare explicitly point out burn-in, however neither apply to “regular put on and tear,” and Apple’s help web page above makes clear that it considers burn-in “anticipated.” 

It is also value mentioning that almost all LCD TV warranties do not cowl burn-in both and most do not point out it in any respect. The closest Samsung’s guarantee comes on its QLED TVs, for instance, is to particularly exclude protection of “brightness associated to regular growing old or every other points if the TV is used for industrial or non-normal client use. Samsung doesn’t warrant uninterrupted or error-free operation of the product.”

When CNET reached out to Samsung for particulars, the consultant outlined “regular client use” as “use of the product by customers in a house surroundings for viewing content material and/or gaming in a typical method. It does not cowl enterprise use.” In different phrases, these ESPN logos you see burned into the screens at your native sports activities bar wouldn’t be lined.

Prolonged warranties do not sometimes cowl burn-in both. One of the crucial widespread, SquareTrade, is obtainable from Amazon, Walmart, and others. They explicitly do not cowl burn-in. Nevertheless, Greatest Purchase’s Geek Squad Safety Plan may, relying on while you purchased it. The newest model solely explicitly covers burn-in on telephones. 

Find out how to repair display burn-in (the easiest way is to simply keep away from it) 

The actual fact is that if you happen to do get burn-in in your OLED show, you are just about caught with it. So your finest wager is to keep away from it altogether. However how?

Each Sony and LG instructed CNET that the easiest way to forestall burn-in or picture retention on their TVs is to keep away from static photos.

“To keep away from the potential of burn-in, customers ought to keep away from leaving static photos on an OLED display for lengthy intervals of time. For instance, leaving a online game paused onscreen for a number of hours or days,” a Sony spokesperson mentioned.

For those who discover picture retention, do not panic. Chances are high if you happen to watch one thing totally different, it’s going to go away by itself after some time. For those who’re repeatedly getting picture retention of the identical factor, then that could possibly be trigger for concern.

Turning down the brightness (managed by “OLED Mild” on LG’s units, and Brightness on Sonys) will assist, particularly while you’re watching the content material that causes the picture retention. Selecting a dimmer image mode, like Cinema as an alternative of Vivid, has the identical impact. You’d solely want to do that when watching one thing that causes picture retention, like a online game for six hours each evening, or 24-hour cable information for twenty-four hours straight. 


OLED TVs, just like the 2018 LG proven right here, have just a few alternative ways to keep away from and attempt to repair picture retention.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Just about all OLED TVs even have consumer settings to attenuate the possibility of uneven put on or burn-in. One known as one thing like “Display Shift” (on LGs) or “Pixel Shift” (on Sonys), which strikes the picture barely across the display. Additionally they have built-in screensavers that pop up after prolonged idle time. You also needs to allow display savers on related units like sport consoles and streamers.

To take away picture retention, the TVs may carry out “refreshers” on a every day or longer-term foundation. On Sony TVs the function known as “Panel Refresh,” and LG calls it “Pixel Refresher.” It may be run manually if you happen to discover picture retention or, within the case of LG, you may get a reminder to run it after 2,000 hours. 

LG additionally has a Each day Pixel Refresher, which it says “routinely operates when customers flip off the TV after watching it for greater than 4 hours in complete. For instance, if a consumer watched TV for 2 hours yesterday and three hours at the moment (greater than 4 hours in complete), when powered off the Each day Pixel Refresher will routinely run, take care of potential picture retention points, and reset the operation time. This course of will happen when the TV is powered off after each 4 hours of cumulative use, even when it is in a single sitting.”

In all circumstances the pixel refresher appears to be like like a horizontal line that runs down the display, for a interval of an hour or extra. It is designed to even the wear and tear on pixels. 


This is the Panel Refresh display on Sony’s A1E OLED TV. Identical to on LG’s OLEDs, it is designed to take away picture retention by scrolling a horizontal bar down the display for an hour or so.

David Katzmaier/CNET

In relation to telephones I would not be too involved, because it’s possible you may change the cellphone far prior to any picture retention/burn-in points grow to be bothersome. Concerning my aforementioned S6 Edge, regardless that I observed it, I would not say the burn-in lowered my enjoyment of the cellphone. I used to be by no means watching a video and considering, “Wow, I can not get pleasure from this video due to the burn-in.” For the reason that cellphone was in use by its second proprietor twice so long as I had it, and was solely let down by its battery, burn-in clearly wasn’t a dealbreaker. My good friend changed it with a Pixel 4a, which additionally has an OLED display. So even after 4 years with that display he nonetheless most popular to get a cellphone with OLED.

With TVs, past the strategies outlined above, there’s not a lot you are able to do to reverse burn-in. In concept, I suppose, you could possibly create an inverse picture utilizing Photoshop and run that in your display for some time. This might age the remainder of the panel to extra evenly match the “burned in” space. Determining how to do that is nicely past the scope of this text, and also you’d must be fairly nicely versed in Photoshop to even try it.

Testing discovered burn-in is extra possible for OLED screens than LCD

CNET has not performed any long-term real-world exams of OLED burn-in. In our expertise reviewing TVs, we’ve got seen picture retention on OLEDs that disappeared rapidly, for instance after operating a collection of static check patterns, however nothing everlasting.

Probably the most complete unbiased exams for burn-in on TVs was run by the aforementioned assessment web site RTings. In August 2017 they started a burn-in torture check with LCD and OLED TVs, adopted by a “actual life” torture check in 2018. They stopped commonly updating the check in 2020, however that was after the equal of 5 years of regular use on a number of TVs, and nonetheless they felt that most individuals won’t ever have a difficulty with burn-in. 

Earlier than you test it out, take into account what they’re doing is not regular use. You’d must be attempting to wreck a TV to make it look that dangerous, which is actually what they’re attempting to do. That mentioned, the knowledge remains to be useful, and the principle takeaway is that OLED is certainly extra inclined to burn-in than LCD.

The recap: Most individuals should not fear about OLED burn-in

You have observed a ghostly picture in your TV or cellphone display. If it goes away after a couple of minutes of watching one thing else, it is picture retention and it is most likely nothing to fret about. If it “sticks” longer, otherwise you’re repeatedly seeing that very same residual picture, it is burn-in. With telephones, you may possible change it earlier than the display turns into a difficulty.

With OLED TVs, it is one thing to bear in mind if you happen to’re a TV information junkie, or solely ever play one online game. Preserve a watch out for picture retention or uneven put on. For those who spot it, maybe swap up your viewing habits, alter the TV’s settings, or run the pixel refresher just a few occasions. And if you happen to watch content material with hours of the identical static picture every day, or simply preserve CNN, Fox or CNBC on within the background all day, you must most likely get an LCD TV.

For those who fluctuate your TV viewing habits like most individuals, nonetheless, it will not be a difficulty. Even so, caveat emptor. Or as Caesar himself as soon as mentioned, “Conscientiam autem ardeat sed non anxius” (concentrate on burn-in, however not involved). He was, we hear, a giant iPhone fan.

Replace, Oct. 9, 2021: This text was first revealed in 2018 however has been up to date with new hyperlinks and data.

In addition to masking TV and different show tech, Geoff Morrison does photograph excursions of cool museums and areas around the globe, together with nuclear submarineshuge plane carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and extra. 

You may observe his exploits on Instagram and his journey video collection on YouTube. He additionally wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, together with a sequel

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