OLED display burn-in: What you want to know in 2021

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


In order for you the most effective picture high quality, OLED is the way in which to go. OLED TVs from LG and Sony are commonly on our record of Greatest TVs. Excessive-end telephones from Google, Samsung and Apple have OLED screens and look nice. These pretty photographs include a possible drawback: burn-in. Burn-in is when part of a picture — navigation buttons on a cellphone, for instance, or a channel brand, 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 chance with OLED. Apple’s assist web page for the OLED-screen iPhones touts that they have been designed to cut back the results of OLED burn-in, even because it acknowledges that it will possibly happen in “excessive instances.” Google’s Pixel cellphone assist 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 median TV shopper to create an setting that might end in burn-in.” Nonetheless, tales of OLED burn-in do not appear uncommon on-line, with house owners on YouTube, boards and social media reporting the difficulty. Critiques web site RTings has demonstrated burn-in on LG OLED TVs in long-term exams. And Samsung, a TV maker that does not promote OLED TVs (but), trash-talks burn-in and makes use of it to promote its personal TVs as “burn-in free.”

The actual fact is that every one natural light-emitting diode screens can burn-in, and from every part we all know, they’re extra inclined than normal liquid crystal shows (LCDs), which for the time being 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 chance of burn-in is your main concern, the choice is straightforward: purchase an LCD-based show as a substitute. However know that you simply’re sacrificing the most effective image high quality that cash should buy. Listed here are some factors to bear in mind:

  • Burn-in is feasible with OLED, however not doubtless with regular use.
  • Most “burn-in” is definitely picture retention, which matches away after a couple of minutes.
  • You may virtually definitely see picture retention lengthy earlier than it turns into everlasting burn-in.
  • Usually talking, burn-in is one thing to pay attention to, however not fear about.


Our fundamental recommendation: Burn-in will not be an issue for many customers

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

That is a difficulty should you maintain Fox Information, ESPN or MSNBC on-screen for a number of hours on daily basis and do not watch sufficient different programming, for instance. However so long as you differ what’s displayed, chances are high you may by no means expertise burn-in. 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 diverse content material with out static areas to expertise burn-in points with an OLED TV.”

That is the condensed model of our recommendation. Now it is time to buckle your seatbelt for the lengthy model.

Picture retention vs. burn-in

First, let’s get the descriptions proper. Although usually used interchangeably, “picture retention” and “burn-in” will not be the identical factor. 

  • Picture retention is momentary: 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 instance for an hour you are taking a look at a nonetheless image of a white pet (hey, you do you, we cannot decide). Then you definately resolve to look at a film. For instance Greatest in Present on Amazon, since you’re maintaining together with your theme. However as you are watching you may nonetheless see the white pet picture, as if it is a ghost on the display, gazing your soul.

You are not loopy, in all probability. That is simply an excessive case of picture retention. Chances are high it should go away by itself as you watch stuff that is not the identical nonetheless picture of the pet.

This is a piece 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 brand on the best to focus on 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 photographs versus a check sample. Because it disappeared after operating LG’s Pixel Refresher (see beneath), that is an instance if picture retention and never burn-in.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Now think about you permit your TV on for days or perhaps weeks as a substitute of hours, exhibiting the identical picture the entire time. Then you definately may be in bother. With picture retention, normally simply watching one thing else for some time will make the ghost picture disappear. With burn-in, it is going to stay there for some time. Possibly not eternally, however maybe longer than you’d need.

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

In the event you play the identical online game for hours and days on finish, that recreation’s persistent scoreboard or heads-up show may burn in. Principally, something that stays on display for a very long time and would not change could cause picture retention and maybe, ultimately, burn-in.

Google Pixel 2 XL screen burn-in

Burn-in on a Pixel 2 XL, attributable to the menu bar alongside the underside of the display.

Josh Miller/CNET

Along with your cellphone, the working system itself is without doubt one of the almost certainly candidates to trigger the difficulty. My [Geoff’s] 2015 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge ($300 at Amazon) began to get burn-in after a couple of yr. It began exhibiting up very subtly, however after 18 months I wager most individuals would have seen it. The highest information 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 quicker, so it “burned in” extra. I seen the distinction if I used to be watching one thing full display, a video say, and the picture went to a strong colour. 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 would 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 chance. This is the quote from its assist web page for the merchandise:

With prolonged long-term use, OLED shows may present slight visible adjustments. That is additionally anticipated conduct and may 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 will happen in additional excessive instances corresponding to when the identical excessive distinction picture is repeatedly displayed for extended durations of time. We have engineered the Tremendous Retina and Tremendous Retina XDR shows to be the most effective within the trade in decreasing the results of OLED “burn-in.”

What’s colloquially known as “burn-in” is definitely, with OLED, uneven ageing. They do not “burn in” as a lot as they “burn down.” The candle that burns twice as vivid burns half as lengthy, proper? OLED pixels very, very slowly get dimmer as they’re used. Generally this is not a difficulty because you’re watching diverse content material and all of the pixels, on common, get used the identical quantity. However should you’re solely watching one factor, that one factor may trigger uneven put on. Visually, and within the vernacular, this put on is named “burn-in.” Uneven put on is extra correct, but in addition much more syllables.

Burn-in is (normally) not coated below guarantee

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

“There may be usually no guarantee protection for picture retention by TV corporations and show producers. Picture retention could consequence when shoppers are out of regular viewing situations, and most producers don’t assist guarantee for such utilization no matter the kind of show,” mentioned Tim Alessi, director of recent merchandise at LG.

Sony’s reply was related: “Our guarantee covers product and manufacturing defects. Burn-in will not be coated as it’s attributable to shopper 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 assist 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 ageing or every other points if the TV is used for business or non-normal shopper 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 shopper use” as “use of the product by shoppers in a house setting for viewing content material and/or gaming in a typical method. It would not cowl enterprise use.” In different phrases, these ESPN logos you see burned in to the screens at your native sports activities bar wouldn’t be coated.

Prolonged warranties do not usually cowl burn-in both. Some of the widespread, SquareTrade, is obtainable from Amazon, Walmart, and others. They explicitly do not cowl burn-in. Nevertheless, Greatest Purchase’s Geek Squad Safety Plan does: “When you have not less than three pixels which might be at all times the identical colour or a ghost picture that will not go away, we’ll get your image wanting like new.” Protection specifics can change, although, so double examine the high-quality print should you’re desirous about an prolonged guarantee. 

Avoiding or eliminating it

The actual fact is that should you 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 one of the simplest ways to forestall burn-in or picture retention on their TVs is to keep away from static photographs.

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

In the event you discover picture retention, do not panic. Chances are high should you watch one thing totally different, it should go away by itself after some time. In the event you’re repeatedly getting picture retention of the identical factor, then that may very well 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 a substitute 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 a number of other ways to keep away from and attempt to repair picture retention.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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

To take away picture retention, the TVs may carry out “refreshers” on a day by day or longer-term foundation. On Sony TVs the characteristic is named “Panel Refresh,” and LG calls it “Pixel Refresher.” It may be run manually should you 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 Day by 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 as we speak (greater than 4 hours in complete), when powered off the Day by day Pixel Refresher will routinely run, cope with 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 instances the pixel refresher seems to be 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. Similar 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

On the subject of telephones I would not be too involved, because it’s doubtless you may change the cellphone far before any picture retention/burn-in points develop into bothersome. Relating to my aforementioned S6 Edge, regardless that I seen it, I would not say the burn-in diminished my enjoyment of the cellphone. I used to be by no means watching a video and pondering, “Wow, I can not get pleasure from this video due to the burn-in.” Because the cellphone has now been in use by its second proprietor longer even than I had it, and continues to be (impressively) going sturdy, it is clearly not a dealbreaker.

With TVs, past the strategies outlined above, there’s not a lot you are able to do to reverse burn-in. In idea, I suppose, you can 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 properly past the scope of this text, and also you’d should be fairly properly versed in Photoshop to even try it.

What about burn-in exams?

CNET has not but carried out any long-term real-world exams of OLED burn-in. In our expertise reviewing TVs, we’ve seen picture retention on OLEDs that disappeared shortly, 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 evaluation 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 the felt that most individuals won’t ever have a difficulty with burn-in. Earlier than you test it out, be mindful what they’re doing is not regular use. You’d need to 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 continues to be invaluable, and the principle takeaway is that OLED is certainly extra inclined to burn-in than LCD.

The recap

You’ve got seen 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 in all probability 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 doubtless change it earlier than the display turns into a difficulty.

With OLED TVs, it is one thing to bear in mind should you’re a TV information junkie, or solely ever play one online game. Maintain an eye fixed out for picture retention or uneven put on. In the event you spot it, maybe change up your viewing habits, alter the TV’s settings, or run the pixel refresher a number of instances. And should you watch content material with hours of the identical static picture every day, or simply maintain CNN, Fox or CNBC on within the background all day, you must in all probability get an LCD TV.

In the event you differ 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” (pay attention to burn-in, however not involved). He was, we hear, a giant iPhone fan.

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

You possibly can observe his exploits on InstagramYouTube and on his journey weblog, BaldNomad. He additionally wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, together with a sequel

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