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Technology.

12 November 2021

What is OLED TV? Best OLED TVs to buy

Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens are said to be the best of the best. We've tested leading OLED sets – but with prices high, is OLED really worth your money?
Martin Pratt

OLED TVs can give you dazzling, bright pictures with smooth motion, deep blacks and vibrant colours, while also being slimmer than LED-backlit LCD TVs.

Many of the leading TV brands are developing OLED sets, including LG, Panasonic and Sony, and prices are becoming far more affordable. LG is the most prolific in this area, releasing around five ranges each year. Sony and Panasonic don't release quite as many, but as the displays get cheaper we expect to see more and more.

Smaller brands, such as Philips, are also getting in on the OLED action. Samsung seems steadfast in its belief that its quantum-dot QLED technology will give the best possible picture quality, as it’s now one of the only major TV manufacturers without an OLED TV; Hisense is another. 

With OLEDs typically commanding a high price and some not warranting it, we've picked out five that excelled in our tests.

Best OLED TVs to buy

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

  • 81%
    £1499.00

    It's hard to find fault with this sublime TV. It looks fantastic, and sounds amazing despite being very thin.

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  • 79%
    £1799.00

    Fantastic HDR implementation and a stunningly detailed 4K picture make this tremendous all-rounder one of the best TVs of 2021.

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  • 73%
    £999.00

    It's one of the cheapest OLEDs we've come across and we never expected it to be so good. It's a worthy Best Buy with its lovely screen that superb for 4K.

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  • 73%
    £1499.00

    This OLED is far cheaper than it has any right to be. It's not from one of the big name brands either. It's a pleasant surprise and a great choice for a high-end, big screen OLED.

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  • 72%
    £2399.00

    Comfortably one of the best sounding TVs around. It does an excellent job with stereo separation and it feels expansive. Its HDR use is exemplary, too.

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What’s so special about OLED TV?

OLED TVs have individual organic cells behind the screen, which produce their own light source, unlike standard LED-backlit TVs. This has a number of advantages for picture quality and design:

  • Deep blacks OLED sets are able to turn off individual LEDs when displaying black, rather than simply directing light away from that part of the screen, as LCD displays do, which means they can achieve very deep blacks.
  • Smooth motion Motion looks good on OLED TVs, with hardly any blurring, even on fast-moving action.
  • Super-thin screen With no need for a backlight, OLED screens can be even thinner than most smartphones. 
  • Energy use Even though OLED TVs were initially thought to use less power than similar-sized LED-backlit LCD sets, our data suggests they use about the same.

Browse our TV reviews to find out which models deserve a place in your home.

OLED TV vs LED TV

The fundamental difference between OLED TVs and LED TVs is the backlight. OLEDs don't have one, but LED TVs do. 

Otherwise OLEDs are broadly the same as every other screen type, including LCD and QLED. An OLED TV won't necessarily have extra features, they can support the same HDR formats and are usually 4K (there are some 8K models).

So if you're looking at an OLED TV and similarly high-end LED model then they are likely to have similar features, the only difference is how the picture is produced. The pixels in an OLED display create light and colour, while LED TVs have a backlight shining onto a colour-producing layer to create a picture.

What is OLED evo?

LG introduced OLED evo into its G1 range in 2021. It was the first major update to OLED technology since it became compatible with HDR, and it focuses on brightness.

Backlit TVs have the advantage here since there's an entire layer of bulbs shining on the colour-creating layer to make the picture. OLED evo screens have adapted the way the pixels produce light to increase the peak brightness.

48-inch OLEDs and other available sizes

Unlike LCD and QLED TVs, your size options with OLED is more limited.

When OLED TVs first became mainstream there was nothing smaller than 55 inches, but in 2019 LG and Sony launched 48-inch OLED TVs. These are smallest available.

4K TVs don't get smaller than 40 inches and most brands start at 43 inches, so there's a chance that we could see a 40 to 43-inch OLED TV one day.

Do you need to worry about screen burn?

The prospect of screen burn is a worry. It's where a still image remains on the screen even when you change the channel, like looking through a window with a smudge on it.

Once an image is burned on, it's difficult, if not impossible, to remove without replacing the screen. It can happen, but it's easy to avoid. 

OLED TVs tend to have a feature that imperceptibly moves still images, such as a channel logo, so they don't burn on to the screen. 

Some OLEDs also have a sort of screen refresher software that's like giving the screen a wash to remove any hint of an old image. 

You can also avoid this issue happening by not leaving your TV paused for too long. 

Ultimately, this is a rare occurrence that only really happens when the screen has been paused on the same image for hours. Avoid this and you should be fine.

What about my warranty?

Frustratingly, manufacturer warranties don't tend to cover screen burn because it's considered misuse. Manufacturers claim that under normal use, ie not leaving it paused for hours on end, screen burn shouldn't occur.

It may be covered by your retailer warranty though, so it's worth checking with wherever you bought the TV to see if screen burn is covered. 

Should I buy an OLED TV?

Unlike 4K and HDR, which should now be seen as a requirement for your next major TV purchase, OLED is more of a luxury option. You’ll pay a premium for this screen technology, and you’re certainly not guaranteed a Best Buy. But there's healthy competition in this market, with Panasonic, Philips and Sony launching similarly priced OLED sets as LG. 

This will certainly mean that quality rises and prices drop throughout the year, but if you're willing to shop carefully, there are affordable and good quality screens around.