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15 Jul 2021

Are the new LG OLED evo TV displays better than traditional OLED screens?

The first major update to OLED displays in years, so let's see if our lab tests reveal whether OLED evo displays are really brighter

OLED displays are the go to for most major brands. LG, Hisense, Panasonic, Philips, Sony all choose OLED for their high-end sets. But LG has added an extra twist.

Everything must improve, how else could these brands justify a new line-up of TVs every year?

Sometimes its the processor, or a new HDR format comes on the scene, or upscaling tech boosts lower-resolution content even further. But in 2021 its the screen itself that's getting an upgrade.

OLED evo is unique to LG TVs for now, so we're focusing on those right now. We're using our expert lab tests to compare the £1,999 OLED55G16LA (OLED evo) with the £1,699 OLED55C14LB (just OLED) to see if the new display makes much of a difference.

Top five TVs for 2021: did either of these OLEDs make our list of favourites?

What's new with OLED evo?

The OLED evo G1 is designed to be wall mounted

Before we get into detail about our results, you need to know that OLEDs aren't backlit. So there's no layer of bulbs shining through a light-creating layer to produce the picture, which is how LCD and QLED sets work. Instead, each pixel in OLED displays makes their own light, so there's no need for any extra bulbs.

This has benefits and drawbacks, but mainly benefits. Having such tiny light sources means OLED TVs have more control over which parts of the screen are lit and how brightly. This minimises blooming where bright areas shine into darker ones, like a child going over the lines when they're colouring in.

The drawback is brightness. Effectively having dozens of torches beaming out of the TV means backlit models have higher peak brightness.

OLED evo is hoping to close that gap by making each of those pixels produce more light. But you don't have to take LG's word for it.

Revealed: are OLED evo TVs brighter than traditional OLED TVs?

Our staggeringly deep TV tests check the peak brightness of the screen in five different scenarios, so we can say for sure whether an OLED evo display is brighter than a traditional OLED one.

Brightness is measured in Nits. The more Nits, the brighter the display.

Test 1: max light output with a small white square in SDR

  • (OLED evo) OLED55G16LA: 220 Nits
  • (Just OLED) OLED55C14LB: 220 Nits

In this test, we use a small white square on a black background with the TV in SDR mode or standard dynamic range. This means we're not using any added HDR effects, such as Dolby Vision or HDR10.

Test 2: max light output with a small white square in HDR

  • (OLED evo) OLED55G16LA: 830 Nits
  • (Just OLED) OLED55C14LB: 815 Nits

This is the same test as the one above, but this time the TV is in HDR mode, or high dynamic range. As you can see, the brightness increases dramatically.

Test 3: max light output with a large white square in HDR

  • (OLED evo) OLED55G16LA: 510 Nits
  • (Just OLED) OLED55C14LB: 555 Nits

This test uses a much bigger white square on a black background. Because the TV is having to disperse light across more of the screen, we expect to see a drop in peak brightness.

Test 4: max light out put with a small white square in HDR with a live scene in the background

  • (OLED evo) OLED55G16LA: 800 Nits
  • (Just OLED) OLED55C14LB: 790 Nits

This time we're putting a small white square over a live scene. This test, and the one below, are the closest representation of the brightness you'll typically see. The screen is working hard to push light all over the screen, but the white square should be where we see the peak brightness.

If you imagine a scene in a park, some parts could be in the shade under a tree, while others are out in the open. These will look brighter as they aren't shaded, but the peak brightness will be the sun shining on to the park. This test shows how well a TV is able to amplify brightness where the picture needs it most.

Test 5: max light out put with a large white square in HDR with a live scene in the background

  • (OLED evo) OLED55G16LA: 500 Nits
  • (Just OLED) OLED55C14LB: 550 Nits

This is the same as the test above, but with a larger white square. Because we're asking the TV to produce a larger bright area, we're expecting a drop in peak brightness.

The (just OLED) LG OLED55C14LB was brighter than the (OLED evo) G1 in three of the five tests

Well, this is awkward...

Ahem, so OLED evo is brighter. Slightly brighter. Sometimes.

If we look at the average, though, the all-OLED C1 is the brighter of the two displays. It averaged 586 Nits to the OLED evo G1's 572.

So what does this mean for OLED evo displays? Well, first, you shouldn't buy one if you're hoping to have your retinas scorched by a plethora of Nits, but there is more to OLED evo tech.

LG said this updated display would improve colour, too.

For our picture quality test results where we look at colour accuracy, vibrancy, contrast balance, detail, motion clarity, sharpness and upscaling at each resolution from SD all the way to 4K HDR, you can read our 55-inch LG OLED55G16LA review and 65-inch LG OLED65G16LA review.

To see how rival OLEDs did in our lab tests, see all of our OLED TV reviews.