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


David Katzmaier/CNET

From telephones to TVs, 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 recurrently on our record of best TVs. Excessive-end telephones from Google, Samsung and Apple have OLED screens and look nice. Even some laptops, tablets and the latest Nintendo Switch have OLED screens. These beautiful pictures and glorious contrast ratio include a possible downside: burn-in. Burn-in is when a 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 risk with OLED. Apple’s support 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 will probably happen in “excessive instances.” Google’s Pixel phone support 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 page that says “It’s uncommon for a median TV shopper to create an atmosphere that would lead to burn-in.” Nonetheless, tales of OLED burn-in do not appear uncommon on-line, with homeowners on YouTube, forums and social media reporting the problem. Reviews site RTings has demonstrated burn-in on LG OLED TVs in long-term assessments. 

The very fact is that each one natural light-emitting diode screens can expertise burn-in, and from every thing we all know, they’re extra vulnerable than normal liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which in the mean 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 concern 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 simply’re sacrificing the most effective image high quality that cash can purchase. Listed here are some factors to bear in mind:

  • Burn-in is feasible with OLED, however not probably 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 primary recommendation: Burn-in is just not 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 suggest OLED-based TVs, telephones and different units in our opinions. From the entire proof we have seen, burn-in is usually brought on by leaving a single, static picture component, like a channel brand, on-screen for a really very long time, repeatedly. 

In case you, like most individuals, watch a wide range of content material in your TV, cellphone, or different gadget with an OLED display, you are not going to wish to fret about burn-in. 

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


Brett Pearce/CNET

What are you able to do to stop burn-in on that new TV? As we talked about, fluctuate what you watch a bit. Particularly, 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 components that by no means transfer, and so they stay on display all the time you are watching. Meaning should you go away your TV working 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 no less than, picture retention, which we’ll focus on in a second. In case you play the identical recreation for 8 hours a day, every single day, the on-screen standing show or HUD can also be a possible offender 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 so forth. You simply should not watch solely these channels, all day every single day. And if that sounds excessive, know that emails I’ve gotten from readers about burn-in at all times have some variation on “properly 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, likelihood is 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 exhibits, they’re all different sufficient that you have to be fantastic.

The RTings torture test we talked about above lasted the equal of 5 years of use and so they nonetheless say “Our stance stays the identical, we do not anticipate most individuals who watch different 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 typically used interchangeably, “picture retention” and “burn-in” usually are not the identical factor. 

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

Picture retention happens when elements of a picture briefly “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 decide). Then you definitely resolve to observe a film. For example Greatest in Present since you’re protecting along 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, 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 similar nonetheless picture of the pet.

Here is a piece of a 2018 LG C8 OLED TV display displaying a grey take a look at 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 best to focus on it. To see it higher, flip up the brightness. In particular person, it is extra seen in a darkish room, however a lot much less seen with shifting pictures versus a take a look at sample. Because it disappeared after working LG’s Pixel Refresher (see beneath), 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 even weeks as an alternative of hours, exhibiting the identical picture the entire time. Then you definitely is likely to be 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 instance what occurs. In actuality, it should be much more delicate. Watch a number 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 case you play the identical online game for hours and days on finish, that recreation’s persistent scoreboard or heads-up show would possibly burn in. Mainly, something that stays on display for a very long time and would not change may cause picture retention and maybe, ultimately, burn-in.

Along with your cellphone, the working system itself is without doubt one of the probably candidates to trigger the problem. My [Geoff’s] 2015 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge ($300 at Amazon) began to get burn-in after a few 12 months. It began exhibiting up very subtly, however after 18 months I guess 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 palms of a buddy, 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 risk. Here is the quote from its support page for the merchandise:

With prolonged long-term use, OLED shows also can present slight visible adjustments. That is additionally anticipated conduct and may embody “picture persistence” or “burn-in,” the place the show exhibits a faint remnant of a picture even after a brand new picture seems on the display. This could happen in additional excessive instances similar to when the identical excessive distinction picture is constantly 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 consequences of OLED “burn-in.”

What’s colloquially known as “burn-in” is definitely, with OLED, uneven getting old. They do not “burn in” as a lot as they “burn down.” The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, right? OLED pixels very, very slowly get dimmer as they’re used. Typically this is not a problem because you’re watching different 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 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” probably 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 probably hear a LOT extra tales about OLED now that the 2 largest cellphone producers, and lots of smaller ones, use OLEDs in thousands and thousands of telephones and have for years. 

Nevertheless, burn-in is (normally) not lined beneath guarantee

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

“There’s typically no guarantee protection for picture retention by TV firms and show producers. Picture retention might outcome when shoppers are out of regular viewing situations, and most producers don’t help guarantee for such utilization no matter the kind of show,” stated Tim Alessi, director of latest merchandise at LG.

Sony’s reply was related: “Our guarantee covers product and manufacturing defects. Burn-in is just not lined as it’s brought on by 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 help web page above makes clear that it considers burn-in “anticipated.” 

It is also price mentioning that the majority LCD TV warranties do not cowl burn-in both and most do not point out it in any respect. The closest Samsung’s warranty comes on its QLED TVs, for instance, is to particularly exclude protection of “brightness associated to regular getting old 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 atmosphere 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 into the screens at your native sports activities bar wouldn’t be lined.

Prolonged warranties do not usually cowl burn-in both. One of the crucial widespread, SquareTrade, is offered from Amazon, Walmart, and others. They explicitly don’t cover burn-in. Nevertheless, Greatest Purchase’s Geek Squad Protection Plan would possibly, relying on once you purchased it. The newest model solely explicitly covers burn-in on telephones. 

Avoiding or eliminating it

The very fact is that should you do get burn-in in your OLED show, you are just about caught with it. So your greatest guess is to keep away from it altogether. However how?

Each Sony and LG instructed CNET that one of the simplest ways to stop burn-in or picture retention on their TVs is to keep away from static pictures.

“To keep away from the opportunity of burn-in, shoppers ought to keep away from leaving static pictures 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 stated.

In case 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 case you’re repeatedly getting picture retention of the identical factor, then that might be trigger for concern.

Turning down the brightness (managed by “OLED Mild” on LG’s units, and Brightness on Sonys) will assist, particularly once 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 night time, 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 reduce the possibility of uneven put on or burn-in. One is known as one thing like “Display screen Shift” (on LGs) or “Pixel Shift” (on Sonys), which strikes the picture barely across the display. In addition they have built-in screensavers 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 also can carry out “refreshers” on a every day or longer-term foundation. On Sony TVs the function is known as “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 whole. For instance, if a consumer watched TV for 2 hours yesterday and three hours in the present day (greater than 4 hours in whole), 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 appears like a horizontal line that runs down the display, for a interval of an hour or extra. It is designed to even the damage on pixels. 


Here 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 terms of telephones I would not be too involved, because it’s probably you may substitute the cellphone far earlier than any picture retention/burn-in points grow to be bothersome. Relating to my aforementioned S6 Edge, although I seen 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 take pleasure in this video due to the burn-in.” Because the 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 buddy 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 principle, I suppose, you may 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 have to be fairly properly versed in Photoshop to even try it.

What concerning the Nintendo Swap?

Nintendo Switch

James Martin/CNET

Nintendo updated its beloved Switch handheld gaming console with just a few enhancements, together with an OLED display. This provides 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 would result in picture retention or, worst case, burn-in. Here is what Nintendo needed to say when CNET’s David Katzmaier requested about burn-in:

We have designed the OLED display to goal for longevity as a lot as attainable, 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 techniques by default, similar to auto-brightness perform to stop the display from getting too vivid, and the auto-sleep perform to enter ‘auto sleep’ mode after brief durations of time. 

Which is to say, Nintendo is totally conscious of this potential and took steps to reduce the danger. Additionally, regardless of many video games having static HUDs, you’d must play simply that one recreation, for hours upon hours, every single day with out ever utilizing the display for anything, on the highest brightness settings. 

But when that is you, and also you recurrently play just one recreation all day every single 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 likely to be well worth the improve. 

Learn extra: Worried about Nintendo Switch OLED burn-in? Read this first

What about burn-in assessments?

CNET has not carried out any long-term real-world assessments of OLED burn-in. In our expertise reviewing TVs, we have now seen picture retention on OLEDs that disappeared shortly, for instance after working a collection of static take a look at patterns, however nothing everlasting.

Probably the most complete unbiased assessments for burn-in on TVs was run by the aforementioned assessment web site RTings. In August 2017 they started a burn-in torture test with LCD and OLED TVs, adopted by a “real life” torture test in 2018. They stopped recurrently updating the take a look at 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 problem with burn-in. 

Earlier than you test it out, be mindful what they’re doing is not regular use. You’d must be attempting to wreck a TV to make it look that unhealthy, which is actually what they’re attempting to do. That stated, the knowledge remains to be priceless, and the primary takeaway is that OLED is certainly extra vulnerable 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 probably substitute it earlier than the display turns into a problem.

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. Preserve an eye fixed out for picture retention or uneven put on. In case you spot it, maybe swap up your viewing habits, alter the TV’s settings, or run the pixel refresher just a few occasions. And should you 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, it is best to in all probability get an LCD TV.

In case you fluctuate your TV viewing habits like most individuals, nevertheless, it will not be a problem. Even so, caveat emptor. Or as Caesar himself as soon as stated, “Conscientiam autem ardeat sed non anxius” (pay attention to burn-in, however not involved). He was, we hear, an enormous iPhone fan.

Replace Sept. 28, 2021: This text was first revealed in 2018 however has been up to date with new hyperlinks and information.

In addition to masking TV and different show tech, Geoff Morrison does photograph excursions of cool museums and locations around the world, together with nuclear submarinesmassive aircraft carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and extra. 

You’ll be able to comply with 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

https://www.cnet.com/tech/home-entertainment/oled-screen-burn-in-what-you-need-to-know-in-2021/#ftag=CADf328eec | OLED display burn-in: What you must know in 2021


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