Display Type Showdown: LCD vs. OLED vs. AMOLED

If you’re researching displays, especially smartphone displays and HDTVs, you will often hear about a screen with the “AMOLED” feature being a selling point. But what does this actually mean?

Let’s hop right into that. First, here are the basics of what each of these display types are.

LCD

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LCD, or Liquid Crystal Display, is a basic display type that took storm and replaced the old CRT (tube TV/monitor) standard. There’s a lot of variety in LCD panels, including LED-backlit panels (which are often called LED panels, to everyone’s confusion), IPS panels, and so on. This is one of the more widely-used display standards, so we’ll discuss where it is applied below.

OLED

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OLED, or Organic Light-Emitting Diode, is a display technology utilizing organic compounds and pixel-specific lighting. These traits combine to enable more vibrant colors and much darker blacks in an image, since per-pixel lighting is much more accurate than what you’d get on your typical LED-backlit LCD display.

AMOLED

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AMOLED, or Active Matrix OLED, is really just OLED with a few added perks. These perks include lower power consumption and more screen flexibility.

Now, let’s discuss the pros and cons for each display type.

LCD

Pros:

  • Cheaper
  • More versatile – implementation allows IPS and 144hz monitors to exist in the PC space, giving more options to PC users
  • Lowest power consumption

Cons:

  • No per-pixel backlighting = worse color reproduction and blacks in an image

OLED

Pros:

  • Great color reproduction thanks to per-pixel backlighting
  • Not as expensive as AMOLED

Cons:

  • Higher power consumption than AMOLED or LCD
  • More expensive than LCD

AMOLED

Pros:

  • All the great color reproduction benefits of OLED
  • Better power consumption than OLED
  • Flexible displays more commonplace

Cons:

  • More expensive than LCD or OLED

Now, let’s discuss where these display types are best used.

LCD

LCD is best used in low-end TVs, general-purpose screens and PC monitors across all ranges, thanks to its ability to implement both TN and IPS panels. TN panels allow for higher refresh rates and lower response times, while IPS panels allow for richer color reproduction and higher viewing angles. The variety of the LCD standard makes it ideal for PC gaming.

OLED

OLED is best used in HDTVs, where screen flexibility doesn’t really matter much and image quality is king. While AMOLED will be better where available (since it’s just enhanced OLED), it will likely be significantly more expensive in the same setting, leading to diminishing returns.

AMOLED

AMOLED is best used in smartphones, tablets, smart watches, laptops – basically anything portable where you want great display quality and power efficiency and some screen flexibility. AMOLED is the de-facto standard for great portable displays and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

We hope we were able to help you come to a better understanding of display types and just what’s possible with what’s out there. Let us know in the comments below if you have any lingering questions!

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