Even the best TVs have their Achilles heel. OLED TVs are famous for providing perhaps the richest, most real-life screen color. And while many users rave over the images that their OLED TVs produce, there is an issue that plagues this specific display type. OLED burn-in is an issue that comes from prolonged, bright static images. But take heart because it’s avoidable.
Before ringing the bells of doom, it’s important to point out that burn-in isn’t some widespread defect that most owners go through. And it has been reported that the issue has been declining over the years. Moreover, terrible scratches on LED TVs can ruin the unit’s aesthetic appeal. When you know what your TV screen is made of, you can learn to treat them better. But the risk of burn always remains a higher possibility, so it’s good to know what it is and how you can prevent it.
Any OLED device can experience burn-in, including smartphones and the Nintendo Switch.
OLED burn-in is essentially a ghostly or faint image overlaid on top of whatever you’re watching on your screen. Unlike image retention, which goes away after a few minutes, burn-in is permanent. And, yes, it can even happen to the finest Smart TVs.
To understand where OLED burn-in comes from, it’s essential to know the technology behind it. An OLED display means that every individual pixel produces its own light, unlike LCD-based displays that use a backlight that projects onto the pixels.
This technology leads to such good picture quality because, without a backlight, every pixel is turned off when displaying a black image. However, because of this technology, specific groups of pixels can burn a ghostly image onto the display in certain circumstances. That faint remnant of an image can negatively impact your viewing experience, whether you’re watching movies, playing video games, etc. Therefore, it’s essential to know what can be done to avoid this permanent image retention.
Most warranties won’t cover image burn-in issues because it occurs due to extreme usage.
It might be a relief to note that there are hardly any instances of permanent image retention for the average TV consumer. But there are a couple of habits that can significantly decrease your chances of experiencing burn-in.
First, never leave any static image or paused video onscreen for extended periods. Second, monitor your brightness settings — the higher your brightness level, the greater your chances of experiencing a burn-in issue with that image on TV display panels for long periods of time. So re-evaluate your viewing habits. If you can’t help playing a video game for hours that has a lot of still images, use a dimmer picture mode and avoid the maximum brightness. A auto-brightness function can also take care of the screen brightness adjustment for you so your TV produces the optimal viewing experience that doesn’t have as high of a ghost image burn-in risk.
Of course, another way to make sure you avoid burn-in issues is to manually set up your TV so that contrast, brightness, and saturation levels are low. You’ll have to test various settings to determine what works best for your particular model without sacrificing image quality.
STAT: According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, 85% of Americans use a smartphone. (source)
How do I perform an OLED screen burn-in test?
You can find burn-in tests on YouTube. Once you play the test, it will help you spot any areas that might be experiencing burn-in.
Are manufacturers fixing the problem of burn-in?
Over the years, manufacturers have continued improving technology to make burn-in less of an issue. Still, it’s also important to remember it’s not something covered by manufacturer warranties.
Is there a difference between image retention and burn-in?
Image retention is more often a short-term issue that goes away in minutes, while burn-in is a permanent form of this problem.