Two of the most common display technologies used to make smartphones, tablet computers, monitors, TVs and other devices are organic light-emitting diode (OLED) and light-emitting diode (LED). Based on their names alone, many people assume that these two technologies are the same. After all, they both revolve around “light-emitting diode,” which has been a key technology used in display devices for many years. Recently, however, device manufacturers have been switching to OLED. So, what’s the difference between OLED and LED, and which display technology is the best?

Origins of OLED

While LEDs have been around for decades, OLEDs are relatively new. Some of the world’s first OLED devices, primarily TVs, were released around 2013. At the time, however, they were priced significantly higher than their LED counterparts, thereby discouraging many consumers and business owners from purchasing them. In the years since, though, prices for OLEDs have declined, making them a more affordable option.

Basics of OLED vs LED

LEDs are designed as solid-state display devices that produce illumination by shuffling electrons through one or more semiconductors. Because light-crystal displays (LCDs) don’t produce their own light, they require the use of a separate backlight. LEDs are often used as backlights for LCDs because they are smaller and more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs. Furthermore, LCDs can create substantial illumination power, resulting in a brighter, clearer display — something that’s essential to creating a high-quality display device.

OLEDs are similar to LEDs in the sense that they both shuffle electrons through one or more semiconductors. The key difference between the two display technologies is that OLED, as the name suggests, consists of organic compounds, whereas LEDs are inorganic. OLEDs produce illumination by transmitting electricity through the organic compounds. As this occurs, the device lights up to produce greater brightness.

Benefits of OLED

Considering that OLEDs are more expensive than LEDs, you might be wondering what, if any, benefits they offer. Well, for starters, OLEDs produce darker blacks. Each pixel of an OLED has its own illumination function. If a pixel isn’t activated, it will remain completely black.

Second, OLEDs have a lower response time. This is important because a long response time can result in image stuttering and lag. Furthermore, OLEDs are said to have better viewing angles than LEDs. Reports show that you can view OLEDs comfortable at angles up to 85 degrees. To put that number into perspective, LEDs offer comfortable viewing angles of just 54 degrees.