LCD vs OLED: The different smartphone screens

The screen is the centerpiece of a smartphone. Users expect brilliant colors and strong contrasts - in bright sunshine as well as at night.

If you are about to buy a new cell phone, you should carefully consider what you expect from the display. Depending on the technology used – LCD or OLED – you will have to deal with different display characteristics. This blog article offers you decision support and background information on both screen technologies.

What types of displays are out there?

Even though you will have come across some terms like TFT and AMOLED during your research, there are basically only two types of displays: LCDs and OLEDs. There are various subtypes and developments of both technologies, such as the Retina display or Super AMOLED.

Both technologies are based on thousands of pixels, which together form an image. The better the resolution of your display, the more pixels are in the same area and the less you can see the individual pixels with the naked eye.

Thousands of pixels create an image
The more pixels LCD and OLED have, the better you can perceive the overall picture.

The difference between LCD and OLED screens lies in how the individual pixels are made to light up. For an LCD, additional backlighting is needed fto generate an image. With an OLED panel, this is not necessary due to self-luminous diodes.

LCD & OLED: The base of all display technologies

A short deep dive into LCD technology

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. In this screen technology, the image is generated by liquid crystals. An LCD panel always consists of several “layers”, such as the display glass, the electrode layer for voltage generation and the backlight. The image-producing layer consists of liquid crystals.

Each liquid crystal forms a pixel. In turn, this consists of a total of three subpixels: red, green and blue. The liquid crystals and thus each subpixel are individually controlled and regulated by electrical voltage. As a result, a wide range of colors including black and white can be generated for each pixel. The liquid crystal layer must be backlit to produce the colors. This means that the display can never darken completely – which is why there is no real deep black in an LCD.

Briefly explained: the OLED technology

The abbreviation OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. The name already gives an idea of how this type of screen works: Unlike LCDs, a backlight is not necessary because the diodes can light up themselves. Each diode is therefore its own small light source consisting of red, green and blue subpixels. Depending on which image is to be shown on the display, the intensity of the illumination is changed by electrical voltage. This allows a wide variety of colors to be produced. White is created by the combination of red, green and blue pixels. As a result, it usually appears somewhat darker than on an LCD. On the other hand, black image elements are created by simply leaving the diodes completely off. Thus, the black value of OLED displays is especially good.

Like the LCD, an OLED display also consists of several layers. In addition to the light-emitting diodes, semiconductor layers are needed to control and regulate the diodes.

Further developments of the main screen technologies

Subtypes of LCD technology


  • = Thin-Film-Transistor
  • almost every phone LCD is a TFT display
  • compared to earlier LC displays, smaller pixels or higher pixel numbers are possible
  • each pixel has an active amplifier and a power supply connection


  • Apple’s own development, registered marketing term
  • Retina displays are supposed to be so clear that the human eye no longer recognizes any pixels
  • Based on an LC display with IPS technology (= In-Plane Switching), in which the liquid crystals are arranged next to each other, which improves viewing angle stability and color reproduction

Subtypes of OLED technology


  • Pixels are controlled with an active matrix via their own power connection
  • The image can be built up more quickly, motion sequences can thus be displayed more smoothly


  • Samsung’s own development and advertising term
  • Instead of the well-known RGB scheme, RG-BG, i.e. red-green – blue-green, is used
  • Image is supposed to be clearer and the colors more vivid, which is especially advantageous in direct sunlight


  • Plastic is used instead of glass
  • This makes the display flexible and shock as well as break resistant
  • Enables foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold
  • Brightness and color reproduction are negatively affected by the plastic


  • Another registered marketing term from Apple
  • Unlike Retina, Super Retina is based on OLED technology
  • According to Apple, it should shine brighter than comparable OLED displays

LCD vs OLED: pros cons of both display types



  • Flicker-free, sharp image
  • Strong performance in bright sunlight
  • Low weight
  • Inexpensive production


  • High energy consumption
  • Often poor viewing angle stability
  • No convincing visualization of black
  • Due to its construction thicker than an OLED display



  • High color brilliance
  • Very good contrast due to deep black and vivid colors
  • Low energy consumption
  • Thinner than LCDs


  • High production costs
  • Pure white cannot be displayed, resulting in a darker overall picture
  • Light emitting diodes have shorter lifetime

LCD or OLED – Which of both screen technologies is the best choice for you?

Now that you know all the benefits and drawbacks of the display types, the question naturally arises: Will the next be an LCD or an OLED?

If it is important to you that your smartphone is inexpensive – both in purchase and repair – you should rather go for an LCD. Replacement screens with this technology, such as the iPhone 11, iPhone Xr or Samsung Galaxy A21s, are available at a low price.

If you do not want to miss out on brilliant colors, you should rather opt for an OLED display. The iPhone X and the Galaxy S10, for example, are equipped with them. Be careful when buying replacement parts, though: Many retailers offer you particularly low prices by selling you an LCD instead of an OLED – without telling. Therefore, do not let yourself be lured by a low price, but carefully read the product description to find out more about the replacement screen.

In our store, you can choose between OLED and LCD technology for some Apple displays. This way, you can decide for yourself which variant fits your needs and budget.

LCD and OLED for iPhone X
On the left you see an LCD for the iPhone X, on the right an iPhone X OLED from our store. You can hardly see a difference at first glance.