For years, as the largest OLED TV manufacturer, LG has had a great story to tell about the many benefits of OLED. Things like black levels, contrast and overall image quality.
On the other hand, rival Samsung has fought against it for just as many years, spending millions of dollars to highlight one of the drawbacks of OLED TV technology: permanent image retention (otherwise known as burn-in). So it’s no surprise, now that Samsung has finally embraced OLED technology, that LG might want to return the favor.
And that’s exactly what happened on February 28th. During an electronic media event hosted by LG and attended by Digital Trends TV expert Caleb Dension, the company focused on a single message: Samsung’s OLED TVs are burned-in trouble.
To be clear, it was LG Display (the LG division that actually makes OLED panels) that delivered the message. But she did not base the accusation on her own research. Instead, it used a set of long-term test results from rtings.com, a review site known for its in-depth metrics-based product reviews.
The test in question was conducted on Samsung’s first QD-OLED TV, the 65-inch 2022 S95B, a TV that uses quantum dots combined with blue OLED pixels to achieve full-gamut RGB color. Rtings.com found that if the same image was left on the S95B for days at a time, with the brightness set to maximum, permanent image retention was noted. The same test was apparently run on Sony’s 2022 A95K – the only other model using Samsung’s first-generation QD-OLED panel – with similar, but slightly less stark, results.
LG Display was also quick to point out that LG’s 2022 G2 and C2 evo OLED models, which were also subjected to the same punishment, appeared to emerge unscathed, or at least without noticeable damage in photos shown to attendees.
LG Display explained that the reason its panels did better is thanks to the use of white subpixels. The deeper meaning of this explanation was not lost on anyone. Samsung has made LG’s white subpixel a prime target in its push for QD-OLED panels, arguing that the white subpixel reduces color accuracy by washing out adjacent subpixels.
For its part, LG is now responding by saying that without the brightness boost these white subpixels offer, Samsung is pushing its own OLED pixels too hard, and that burn-in is a consequence of that energy.
Is LG Display right? Yes. But it may not matter.
The problem with image retention tests like those performed by Rtings.com is that they necessarily represent the worst case scenario. Leaving the same news channel on an OLED TV for days at a time at maximum brightness is peaky at best. In this way, they are a bit like phone bend tests. Don’t leave the same picture on a TV for days at a time. Also, don’t sit on your phone.
Not to say that no one uses TVs this way (gyms, airports, and some bars are all places that might do just that) — but if that’s your intention, you should stay away from any OLED TV. Maybe not just Samsung.
The truth—whether LG wants to admit it or not—is that all OLED TVs can suffer the same fate as the S95B and A95K if you push them hard enough. Burn-in occurs when some OLED pixels age at a faster rate than their neighboring pixels, which can happen when a logo or other graphic remains on the screen for a long time while the rest of the screen continues to display an ever-changing set of colors and brightness. LG’s use of a white subpixel does not change this fact.
More likely, in our opinion, is that LG (which has far more experience producing and testing OLED displays than Samsung) has simply evolved the OLED TV software and hardware to mitigate the worst effects of burn-in. when under extreme use. It wasn’t always like that. We’ve received sample images from readers who have burned-in older LG OLED TVs.
Our takeaway from LG’s “I told you so” is that owners of first-generation QD-OLED TVs from Samsung and Sony should take the precautions we’ve always recommended when using OLED TVs: avoid prolonged, high-brightness display of any fixed picture elements . Our other complement: just as LG has improved its ability to combat OLED burn-in over time, so will Samsung, and we have every expectation that its next-generation QD-OLED panels will be less prone to burn-in of these was made a year ago.