Last Updated on July 1, 2021 by David Baddeley
We have already explained some of the different types of panels that exist on the market. In fact, we have a guide that describes the different options that exist in the mobile industry (some of which obviously also apply to televisions, monitors, and others). While this guide is already its fair share of years, it is still current.
What is the difference between LED, LCD, AMOLED and the rest?
A few months ago we also discussed the technologies Samsung uses in its televisions, particularly Crystal UHD and QLED, which are like variations on an LED panel at heart. Of course, you are fully invited to read these guides.
What is Samsung’s Crystal UHD and how is it different from QLED?
What summons us today are the two “new” names in the panel market: Mini and Micro LED, which in recent years have been gaining relevance thanks to the fact that they are allowing LED screens to approach the level of colors, contrasts and brightness offered by OLED-type panels , which are undoubtedly the best there is if we want to obtain the maximum image quality on our monitor, telephone or television.
What are they? How are they different? What are their advantages and disadvantages? We will see that in this article. Let’s get started:
About LED panels
Currently, LED type panels are the most common that you can find in smartphones, televisions, monitors and other devices. It is a variation of the well-known LCD screens, which instead of having a backlight system based on small fluorescent “lamps”, use LEDs to backlight the screen.
The beauty of LED panels is that they are more energy efficient, thinner, and have a better color gamut to reproduce compared to LCDs.
However, with the emergence of OLED panels, the landscape changed a lot for LED screens, mainly because these panels are capable of offering, in general, better image quality, especially in contrast and black tones .
The only advantage that LED screens keep over OLEDs, is that they are still significantly cheaper to produce, and therefore we always see them in low or mid-range phones / televisions / monitors, while OLEDs usually go for the “Flagship” of each brand.
Although like almost everything related to consumer technology, LED panels have been refined over the years, especially in order to improve the quality of the colors they are capable of delivering. This is how we saw the appearance of IPS screens, or also the tremendous panels that Apple was putting on their phones until the iPhone 11. Now last, the most “recent” in LED screens, are the Mini and Micro LED .
You have probably heard the term Mini LED very recently, this is because it is the technology that occupies the screen of the recently introduced iPad Pro with M1 processor (for the 12.9-inch model). In addition, Samsung and LG have also already shown their first litters of televisions with these panels.
The explanation of this type of screen is quite simple: it is the same as a conventional LED panel, with the difference that the diodes used for the backlighting of the pixels are much smaller – around 4 to 5 times smaller.
The advantages of using smaller LEDs is that you can achieve a better contrast, more intense colors, a higher level of brightness, and above all, it improves the quality of black tones , this thanks to the fact that local dimming can work more “precisely” to reduce the brightness level of pixels that are located in places that need darker colors.
While they have relatively similar names, Micro LED panels look more like OLEDs than Mini LEDs, in the sense that they do not require backlighting, since the same pixels have a component that emits light.
The difference between these two is that OLED panels use an organic diode – that is, it depends on organic compounds that, when subjected to an electrical stimulus, emit light – while Micro LEDs are totally inorganic. What is the advantage of this? Mainly, that these should not generate those typical “burns” that we see in OLED screens and their derivatives after a time of use.
Plus, it has the same (and some better) benefits as OLEDs: tremendous peak brightness capability, excellent color reproduction, and obviously completely pure blacks. However, their main disadvantage is that they are quite complicated to manufacture, and therefore, they are significantly more expensive.
At the moment, the two main exponents of Micro LED are Samsung and Sony, who already have screens of this type, although they are focused for commercial use. Of course, the first one has recently presented its first range of Micro LED televisions, in sizes of 76, 88, 99 and 110 inches, although its price is equal to that of a sports or luxury car – about USD $ 100,000 for the 110-inch model .
So apparently, there is still a long way to go for this technology to become widespread, and to reach more affordable prices. But as there are more technological advances in this area, and more manufacturers that add to the production of these panels, little by little we should see a decrease in their values.