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Branding the OLED screen: What you need to know



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Screens with OLED technology provide the best picture quality on TVs from LG and Sony and higher phones from Google, Samsung and Apple. However, there is a potential problem with these beautiful images: burn-in. Burning-in occurs when a permanent portion of the image remains on a screen ̵

1; such as navigation buttons on a phone or a sender's logo, a news ticker, or a scoreboard on a TV – as a ghostly background, regardless of what else is displayed on the screen screen ,

Burning in OLED is a real possibility. Apple's support for the OLED screen iPhones indicates that they are designed to reduce the effects of branding OLEDs, even though they recognize that this can happen in "extreme cases." According to Google's Pixel Phone support page, burn-in may occur "when the same image is displayed on the screen with high brightness for a long time," and some reduction steps are recommended.

In the TV world, some owners have reported on the issue on YouTube, forums, and social media and on the test page RTings the branding of LG OLED televisions has been demonstrated in long-term tests. And Samsung, a TV maker that has not yet sold any OLED televisions ( nor ), burns trash and advertises it for its own television as a "burn-in-free".

Ultimately the dilemma is the following: All organic light-emitting diode screens can burn in, and after all we know, they are more prone than traditional liquid crystal displays including QLED models from Samsung and others. However, the same OLED screens provide better picture quality than LCDs.

So, if fear of the mere possibility of burn-in is your main concern, the decision is simple: Buy an LCD-based display instead. But do you know that you sacrifice the best image quality you can buy for money. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Burning in is possible with OLED, but not in normal use likely .
  • Most "burn in" is actually a picture retention that disappears after a few minutes.
  • You will almost certainly notice an image retention long before the permanent burn-in occurs.
  • In general, you should be aware of branding, but do not worry.
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OLED televisions deliver the best image you can buy, but they are more prone to branding than LCDs.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Our basic advice: burn-in is not a problem for most users.

All in all, burn-in should not be a problem for most people. For this reason, we at CNET continue to recommend OLED-based televisions, phones, and other devices in our reviews. After all the evidence we have seen, burn-in is usually caused by a single static pixel, such as a single pixel. For example, a channel logo will appear repeatedly on the screen for a very long time. This is a problem if, for example, you see Fox News, ESPN, or MSNBC on the screen for several hours each day, and you do not see enough other programs. However, as long as you vary the displayed information, there can be no burn-in.

This is the shortened version of our advice. Now it's time to strap on your seat belt for the long version.

Image Retention vs. Burn-In

Let's first describe the descriptions correctly. Although often used interchangeably, "image retention" and "burn in" are not the same.

  • The image retention is temporary: it disappears over time.
  • The burn-in is permanent: it does not disappear.

Image retention occurs when portions of an image temporarily "stick" to the image after the image has disappeared. Let's say you look at a white puppy's statue for an hour (hey, you do it, we do not judge it). Then you decide to watch a movie. Let's say "Best in Show" on Amazon because you stick to your topic. But as you watch, you can still see the white puppy image as if it were a ghost on the screen staring at your soul.

You're probably not crazy. This is just an extreme case of image retention. There is a possibility that it will disappear by itself when you look at things that do not match the puppy's still image.

Here's an excerpt from a 2018 LG C8 OLED TV screen displaying CNN in the brightest (vivid) mode with a gray test pattern after 5 hours. They are the same picture, but we have circled the section with the logo to the right to highlight it. Increase the brightness to see it better. Personally, it is more visible in a dark room, but much less in moving pictures than in a test pattern. Since it has disappeared after running LG's Pixel Refresher (see below), this is an example if the image is preserved and not burned.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Imagine turning on your TV for days or weeks instead of hours, showing the same picture all the time. Then you might be in trouble. If you keep a picture and usually pay attention to something else for a while, the ghost will disappear. It will stay there for a while with Burn-In. Maybe not forever, but maybe longer than you would like to consider.

This is an extreme case, mainly to illustrate what happens. In reality, it will be much more subtle. Do you see many of the same TV news channels as CNN in the example above? I'm not sure how your heart can handle it, but let's say you're doing it. The identifying logo of this station is a prime candidate for image retention and eventual branding. Likewise, the horizontal edges of the "crawl" at the bottom of the screen.

If you play the same video game for hours and days, the permanent scoreboard or heads-up ad of that game may burn. Basically, anything that stays on the screen for a long time and does not change can lead to image retention and eventually burn in at some point.

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Burning in on a Pixel 2 XL caused by the menu bar at the bottom of the screen.


Josh Miller / CNET

On your phone, the operating system itself is one of the most likely candidates to cause the problem. My [Geoff’s] 2015 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge ($ 171 at Amazon) burned after about a year. It started to be very subtle, but after 18 months I bet most people would have noticed. The upper information bar in which the notifications are displayed and the lower third in which the keyboard is displayed are not as old as the remaining center area. As it was lighter, the middle area aged faster, so it burned more. I noticed the difference when watching something in full-screen mode, like a video, and the picture became solid. After two years with a Pixel 2 (not the XL), which also has an OLED screen, however, no burn was recognizable. After four years with the S6 Edge, in the not so careful hands of a friend, the burn-in compared to 2017 does not seem to have gotten worse.

Apple identifies users of OLEDs For iPhones with screens like the X and 11, this branding is possible. Here is the quote from the support page for the products:

OLED displays may show slight visual changes after prolonged use. This is also the expected behavior and may include "image permanence" or "burn in," where the display indicates a faint remnant of an image even after a new image appears on the screen. This can occur in more extreme cases, e.g. For example, if the same high-contrast image is displayed continuously over a long period of time. We've designed the Super Retina and Super Retina XDR displays to deliver the industry's best results in reducing the effects of OLED burn-in.

What is colloquially referred to as "burn in" is actually an uneven aging with OLED. They "burn" less than "burn". The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, right? OLED pixels darken very, very slowly when used. In most cases, this is not a problem as you look at different content and, on average, all pixels are used the same number of times. But if you only observe one thing, it can cause uneven wear. Visually and popularly, this wear is referred to as "burn in". Uneven wear is more accurate, but also many more syllables.

Burning in is (usually) not covered by the warranty.

LG and Sony expressly state in their warranties that image retention and burn-in on their OLED TVs are not covered. When CNET contacted LG to ask why, a representative replied:

"There is generally no warranty coverage for image storage by TV companies and display manufacturers. Image storage can occur if consumers are not in the normal display conditions "Whatever the type of display, no warranty can be given for this use," said Tim Alessi, director of new products at LG.

Sony's response was similar: "Our warranty covers product and product liability Manufacturing defects. Branding is not covered as it is caused by consumer use and is not a product defect. "

Neither the iPhone warranty nor AppleCare specifically mention branding, but does not apply to" normal wear. "The above support Also, it's worth noting that most branding for LCD TVs does not cover branding and most do not mention it at all. "Samsung's closest guarantee for his For example, QLED television is designed to explicitly exclude the detection of "brightness associated with normal aging or other problems when the television is used for consumer or non-commercial consumer use."

Upon reaching CNET Samsung was replaced by the Representative with regard to details as "normal consumer use" the use ng of the product is typically defined by consumers in a home environment to display content and / or games. Business use is not covered. In other words, these ESPN logos you see on the screens of your local sports bar are not covered.

Extended warranties usually do not cover branding. One of the most popular, SquareTrade, is available from Amazon, Walmart and others. They expressly do not cover branding. However, Best Buy's Geek Squad Protection Plan states, "Pixel repair and burn-in coverage for TVs. We'll restore your screen to a pristine condition when your pixels look strange or a shadow hangs." However, the coverage specifications may change. Therefore, check the fine print if you are considering an extended warranty.

Avoiding or getting rid of

The fact is that you have a lot of work to do with branding yourself on your OLED display. So you better avoid it altogether. But how?

Both Sony and LG told CNET that the best way to prevent burn-in or image storage on their TVs is to avoid static images.

"To avoid the possibility of burn-in, consumers should avoid leaving static images on an OLED screen for an extended period of time, such as stopping a video game on the screen for hours or days," Sony said. Speaker.

If you notice an image retention, do not panic. If you look at something else, it will disappear by itself after a while. If you repeatedly receive image retention of the same thing this could be cause for concern.

Reducing the brightness (controlled by "OLED Light" on LG devices and "Brightness on Sony's") helps, especially if you look at the content that causes image storage. Choosing a darker picture mode like Cinema instead of Vivid has the same effect. You only have to do this if you are looking at something that leads to image retention, such as: For example, a video game that runs for six hours every night or 24-hour cable messages that run 24 hours in a row.

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With OLED televisions, like the LG 2018 shown here, there are several ways to avoid and fix image retention.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Virtually all OLED TVs also have user settings to minimize the likelihood of uneven wear or burn-in. It is called something like "Screen Shift" (LGs) or "Pixel Shift" (Sony's), which makes the picture move easily on the screen. They also have built-in screensavers that display after a long idle time. You should also enable screen savers on attached devices such as game consoles and streamers.

To eliminate image retention, televisions can also perform "refreshments" on a daily or longer term basis. On Sony TVs, the function is called "Panel Refresh," and LG calls it "Pixel Refresher." It can be done manually if you notice a picture save or if in case of LG you get a reminder that it should be run after 2,000 hours.

LG also has a Daily Pixel Refresher, which "automatically runs when users turn off the TV for a total of more than four hours". Example: A user watched TV two hours yesterday and three hours today. After powering off (more than four hours in total), the Daily Pixel Refresher automatically runs to resolve any image storage issues and reset the operating time. This process is performed when the TV is turned off every four hours, even if it is in a session. "

In all cases, pixel refreshing looks like a horizontal line running across the screen for an hour or more, and is designed to compensate for pixel degradation.

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Here's the panel refresh screen on Sony's A1E OLED TV, just like LG's OLEDs, eliminating image retention by dragging a horizontal bar across the screen for about an hour.


David Katzmaier / CNET

Starting with the LG 2018 TV, there is an additional feature to prevent burn-in, called "Logo Luminance Adjustment". It is designed to automatically detect a static logo on the screen and reduce the brightness after two minutes. After that, the logo should be 20 percent darker. CNET's initial tests of the feature showed that it slightly reduced the brightness of the logo, but we do not expect it to be a panacea given the relatively small percentage decrease.

When it comes to phones, I would not be particularly worried, as you're likely to swap your phone much sooner than any issues with keeping or burning pictures are annoying. With regard to my already mentioned S6, I would not say that his burning down diminished my enjoyment of the phone, though I noticed it. I've never watched a video and thought, "Wow, I can not enjoy this video because of the burn in. " Maybe after two more years it would be even more noticeable enough to worry.

With televisions, you can not do much to undo the burn-in beyond the methods described above. Theoretically, you could create an inverse image with Photoshop and run it on your screen for a while. This could age the rest of the panel to more evenly match the "burned in" area. It would be beyond the scope of this article to figure out how to do this, and you need to be familiar with Photoshop to even try.

What about burn tests?

CNET has not carried out any long-term tests for the firing of OLEDs. When reviewing televisions, we found a picture retention in OLEDs that quickly disappeared, eg. For example, a series of static test patterns that were not permanent.

Currently, the most comprehensive independent TV branding tests are performed by RTings. In August 2017, a burn-in torture test began with LCD and OLED televisions. They are still in operation from November 2019. Before you look at the product, remember that they do not use normally . They would have to try to destroy a TV to make it look so bad, which is literally what they are trying to do. Nevertheless, the information is still valuable, and the most important finding is that OLED is indeed more prone to burn-in than LCD.

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The Summary

You've noticed a spooky image on your TV or phone screen. If it disappears after a few minutes of looking at something else, the picture will be preserved and it is probably not a cause for concern. If it "sticks" longer or you see the same rest picture over and over again, it is burned. For phones, you'll probably replace it before the screen becomes a problem.

For OLED TVs, this is important if you are a television news junkie or are just playing a video game. Pay attention to image retention or uneven wear. If you notice it, you may change your viewing habits or complete the pixel refresh several times. And if you watch content with hours of the same static image every day, or run CNN, Fox, or CNBC in the background all day, you probably want to buy an LCD TV.

However, if you change your viewing habits like most people, this is not a problem. Nevertheless, reservation Emptor. Or as Caesar himself once said: "Conscientiam autem ardeat sed non anxius" (be aware of branding, but not worried). We hear that he was a big iPhone fan.

Originally published in February 2018 and since then updated with new links and information.


Do you have a question for Geoff? First, look at all the other articles he covers, such as why you should not buy expensive HDMI cables, TV resolutions, how HDR works, and more.

Do you have a question? Tweet it @TechWriterGeoff then check out his travel photography on Instagram. He also thinks you should look at his best-selling science fiction novel and its sequel.


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