Difference between MicroLED and OLED technology

microLED and OLED

As we continue to advance into the digital age, the technology behind our screens is evolving at a rapid pace. The evolution of display technologies has seen the progression from the early cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, to liquid crystal display (LCD) technology, and more recently to organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. Now, microLED technology is beginning to make waves, promising to outshine its predecessors. This article will provide an in-depth comparison of microLED and OLED technologies, highlighting their respective strengths and weaknesses.

Understanding OLED Technology

OLED, short for Organic Light Emitting Diodes, is a flat light-emitting technology that is made by placing a series of organic thin films between two conductors. When an electrical current is applied, a bright light is emitted. Since these light-emitting layers are made from organic (carbon-based) materials, this process can occur at lower temperatures compared to non-organic (or “inorganic”) LEDs, which can be beneficial for certain applications.

One of the significant advantages of OLED displays is that they do not require a backlight to function. As a result, they can display deep black levels and can be thinner and lighter than other display types. This is why OLED screens have become ubiquitous in high-end consumer televisions and smartphones, offering impressive contrast ratios and superior color accuracy.

However, OLED technology is not without its drawbacks. The organic materials used in OLED displays are susceptible to degradation over time, resulting in a shorter lifespan compared to other display technologies. They also suffer from ‘burn-in’, an effect where static images can leave a permanent mark on the screen over time.

The emergence of MicroLED Technology

MicroLED, as the name suggests, uses microscopic LEDs to create an image. Unlike OLED technology, microLED is based on conventional gallium nitride (GaN) LED technology, which is an inorganic material. This means that microLED displays have the potential for far greater lifetimes compared to OLEDs, as they are not prone to the same level of degradation.

MicroLED technology shares the advantages of OLED in that it allows for pixel-level light emission, doing away with the need for a backlight. This means that microLED displays also offer high contrast ratios, wide color gamuts, and the potential for incredibly thin displays.

One of the significant advantages of microLED over OLED is its superior brightness. MicroLEDs can produce more light output per unit area than OLEDs, making them a more suitable option for bright environments or for applications that require high dynamic range (HDR) content.

Challenges for MicroLED Adoption

Despite the advantages of microLED technology, there are significant barriers to its widespread adoption. The most prominent challenge is the manufacturing process. Creating microLED displays involves producing and transferring millions, or even billions, of microscopic LEDs onto a substrate. This is a complex and currently expensive process, with high failure rates.

Additionally, because microLED displays are made up of individual LEDs, minor inconsistencies between each LED can lead to color and brightness uniformity issues across the display. This is a particularly prominent issue for larger displays, where the number of individual microLEDs can run into the billions.

Comparison of Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a key consideration in modern electronic devices, and here, both technologies show promise. OLEDs, due to their ability to turn off individual pixels completely, can be incredibly energy efficient when displaying darker images. This is why features like ‘dark mode’ on smartphones can save battery life on OLED displays.

MicroLEDs, on the other hand, are fundamentally more efficient light emitters than the organic materials used in OLEDs. This means that for a given amount of light output, microLEDs will use less power. However, the real-world efficiency of a display also depends on other factors, like the efficiency of the driving electronics and the light losses in other layers of the display.


Both OLED and microLED technologies have their unique strengths and challenges. OLED has already established itself in the high-end display market due to its excellent color accuracy and contrast ratios. However, the emergence of microLED technology and its promise of higher brightness, longer lifespan, and superior energy efficiency make it an exciting prospect for the future of display technologies.

Yet, the manufacturing challenges facing microLED technology mean that it may be some time before we see this technology become as widespread as OLED. It is clear, though, that both technologies will continue to play a significant role in the evolving landscape of digital display technology. As consumers, we can look forward to a future with ever more impressive and immersive visual experiences. A number of companies are already using MicroLED displays in their devices, Apple is expected to switch to the technology over the next couple of years, one device that we are expecting to use microLED displays is the Apple Watch Ultra 2. We hope that you find out guide on the difference between microLED and OLED displays useful, if you have any comments or questions, please let us know in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Samsung

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