If you need the perfect picture high quality, OLED is the way in which to go. OLED TVs from LG and Sony are usually on our listing of Best TVs. High-end telephones from Google, Samsung and Apple have OLED screens and look nice. Those beautiful photos include a possible drawback: burn-in. Burn-in is when part of a picture — navigation buttons on a cellphone, for instance, or a channel brand, information ticker or a scoreboard on a TV — persists as a ghostly background it doesn’t matter what else seems onscreen. 

Burn-in is a risk with OLED. Apple’s assist web page for the OLED-screen iPhones touts that they have been designed to cut back the consequences of OLED burn-in, even because it acknowledges that it will possibly happen in “extreme cases.” Google’s Pixel cellphone assist web page says burn-in can occur “when the same image stays on your screen for a long time at a high brightness” and recommends steps to cut back it. 

In the TV world, LG has a web page that claims “It is rare for an average TV consumer to create an environment that could result in burn-in.” Nonetheless, tales of OLED burn-in do not appear uncommon on-line, with homeowners on YouTube, boards and social media reporting the difficulty. Reviews website RTings has demonstrated burn-in on LG OLED TVs in long-term checks. And Samsung, a TV maker that does not promote OLED TVs (but), trash-talks burn-in and makes use of it to promote its personal TVs as “burn-in free.”

The reality is that every one natural light-emitting diode screens can burn-in, and from the whole lot we know, they’re extra prone than normal liquid crystal shows (LCDs), which in the mean time are each mainstream TV that is not OLED. But those self same OLED screens produce higher picture high quality than LCDs.

So if the concern of the mere risk of burn-in is your main concern, the choice is straightforward: purchase an LCD-based show as a substitute. But know that you’re sacrificing the perfect image high quality that cash should purchase. Here are some factors to hold in thoughts:

  • Burn-in is feasible with OLED, however not possible with regular use.
  • Most “burn-in” is definitely picture retention, which fits away after a couple of minutes.
  • You’ll nearly definitely see picture retention lengthy earlier than it turns into everlasting burn-in.
  • Generally talking, burn-in is one thing to concentrate on, however not fear about.


Our fundamental recommendation: Burn-in is just not an issue for many customers

All issues thought-about, burn-in should not be an issue for most individuals. That’s why we at CNET proceed to advocate OLED-based TVs, telephones and different gadgets in our evaluations. From all the proof we have seen, burn-in is usually brought on by leaving a single, static picture ingredient, like a channel brand, on-screen for a really very long time, repeatedly. 

That’s a problem if you hold Fox News, ESPN or MSNBC on-screen for a number of hours on daily basis and do not watch sufficient different programming, for instance. But so long as you fluctuate what’s displayed, likelihood is you’ll by no means expertise burn-in. The RTings torture take a look at we talked about above lasted the equal of 5 years of use and so they nonetheless say “Our stance remains the same, we don’t expect most people who watch varied content without static areas to experience burn-in issues with an OLED TV.”

That’s the condensed model of our recommendation. Now it is time to buckle your seatbelt for the lengthy model.

Image retention vs. burn-in

First, let’s get the descriptions proper. Though usually used interchangeably, “image retention” and “burn-in” usually are not the identical factor. 

  • Image retention is short-term: it goes away in time.
  • Burn-in is everlasting: it doesn’t go away.

Image retention happens when components of a picture quickly “stick” on the screen after that picture is gone. Let’s say for an hour you’re taking a look at a nonetheless image of a white pet (hey, you do you, we can’t choose). Then you resolve to watch a film. Let’s say Best in Show on Amazon, as a result of you’re conserving together with your theme. But as you’re watching you can nonetheless see the white pet picture, as if it is a ghost on the screen, gazing your soul.

You’re not loopy, most likely. That’s simply an excessive case of picture retention. Chances are it would go away by itself as you watch stuff that is not the similar nonetheless picture of the pet.

Here’s a bit of a 2018 LG C8 OLED TV screen displaying a grey take a look at sample after 5 hours watching CNN on the brightest (Vivid) mode. They’re the identical picture, however we have circled the part with the brand on the proper to spotlight it. To see it higher, flip up the brightness. In particular person, it is extra seen in a darkish room, however a lot much less seen with shifting photos as opposed to a take a look at sample. Since it disappeared after working LG’s Pixel Refresher (see under), that is an instance if picture retention and never burn-in.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Now think about you go away your TV on for days or even weeks as a substitute of hours, displaying the identical picture the entire time. Then you could be in bother. With picture retention, normally simply watching one thing else for some time will make the ghost picture disappear. With burn-in, it is going to stay there for some time. Maybe not endlessly, however maybe longer than you’d need.

This is an excessive case, largely simply to illustrate what occurs. In actuality, it is going to be much more refined. Watch a number of the identical TV information station, like CNN in the instance above? Not positive how your coronary heart can deal with that, however as an instance you do. That station’s figuring out brand is a chief candidate for picture retention and finally burn-in. Ditto the horizontal borders of the “crawl” on the underside of the screen.

If you play the identical online game for hours and days on finish, that recreation’s persistent scoreboard or heads-up show may burn in. Basically, something that stays on screen for a very long time and would not change could cause picture retention and maybe, finally, burn-in.

Google Pixel 2 XL screen burn-in

Burn-in on a Pixel 2 XL, brought on by the menu bar alongside the underside of the screen.

Josh Miller/CNET

With your cellphone, the working system itself is without doubt one of the almost definitely candidates to trigger the difficulty. My [Geoff’s] 2015 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge ($399 at Amazon) began to get burn-in after a few 12 months. It began displaying up very subtly, however after 18 months I wager most individuals would have seen it. The high data bar the place the notifications seem, and the decrease third the place the keyboard would present, did not age as a lot because the remaining center space. Since it was brighter, the center space aged quicker, so it “burned in” extra. I seen the distinction if I used to be watching one thing full screen, a video say, and the picture went to a strong colour. However, after 2+ years with a Pixel 2 (not the XL), which additionally has an OLED screen, no burn-in was obvious. Six years on with the S6 Edge, now in the not-so-careful arms of a buddy, the burn-in would not appear to have gotten any worse in contrast to mid-2017.

Apple, for one, flags customers of OLED-screened iPhones, just like the X, 11 and 12, that burn-in is a risk. Here’s the quote from its assist web page for the merchandise:

With prolonged long-term use, OLED shows may present slight visible adjustments. This can also be anticipated conduct and may embody “image persistence” or “burn-in,” the place the show reveals a faint remnant of a picture even after a brand new picture seems on the screen. This can happen in extra excessive circumstances akin to when the identical excessive distinction picture is repeatedly displayed for extended intervals of time. We’ve engineered the Super Retina and Super Retina XDR shows to be the perfect in the business in decreasing the consequences of OLED “burn-in.”

What’s colloquially known as “burn-in” is definitely, with OLED, uneven getting old. They do not “burn in” as a lot as they “burn down.” The candle that burns twice as brilliant burns half as lengthy, proper? OLED pixels very, very slowly get dimmer as they’re used. In most circumstances this is not a problem since you’re watching diverse content material and all of the pixels, on common, get used the identical quantity. But if you’re solely watching one factor, that one factor may trigger uneven put on. Visually, and in the vernacular, this put on is known as “burn-in.” Uneven put on is extra correct, but additionally much more syllables.

Burn-in is (normally) not coated beneath guarantee

In their warranties, LG and Sony explicitly state that picture retention and burn-in usually are not coated on their OLED TVs. When CNET reached out to LG a pair to ask why, a consultant replied: 

“There is generally no warranty coverage for image retention by TV companies and display manufacturers. Image retention may result when consumers are out of normal viewing conditions, and most manufacturers do not support warranty for such usage regardless of the type of display,” stated Tim Alessi, director of recent merchandise at LG.

Sony’s reply was comparable: “Our warranty covers product and manufacturing defects. Burn-in is not covered as it is caused by consumer usage and is not a product defect.”

Neither the iPhone guarantee nor AppleCare explicitly point out burn in, however neither apply to “normal wear and tear,” and Apple’s assist web page above makes clear that it considers burn-in “expected.” 

It’s additionally value mentioning that almost all LCD TV warranties do not cowl burn-in both and most do not point out it in any respect. The closest Samsung’s guarantee comes on its QLED TVs, for instance, is to particularly exclude protection of “brightness related to normal aging or any other issues if the TV is used for commercial or non-normal consumer use. SAMSUNG does not warrant uninterrupted or error-free operation of the product.”

When CNET reached out to Samsung for particulars, the consultant outlined “normal consumer use” as “use of the product by consumers in a home environment for viewing content and/or gaming in a typical manner. It doesn’t cover business use.” In different phrases, these ESPN logos you see burned in to the screens at your native sports activities bar wouldn’t be coated.

Extended warranties do not usually cowl burn-in both. One of the commonest, SquareTrade, is obtainable from Amazon, Walmart, and others. They explicitly do not cowl burn-in. However, Best Buy’s Geek Squad Protection Plan does: “If you have at least three pixels that are always the same color or a ghost image that won’t go away, we’ll get your picture looking like new.” Coverage specifics can change, although, so double test the tremendous print if you’re fascinated with an prolonged guarantee. 

Avoiding or eliminating it

The reality is that if you do get burn-in in your OLED show, you’re just about caught with it. So your finest wager is to keep away from it altogether. But how?

Both Sony and LG advised CNET that one of the simplest ways to stop burn-in or picture retention on their TVs is to keep away from static photos.

“To avoid the possibility of burn-in consumers should avoid leaving static images on an OLED screen for long periods of time. For example leaving a video game paused onscreen for several hours or days,” a Sony spokesperson stated.

If you discover picture retention, do not panic. Chances are if you watch one thing totally different, it would go away by itself after some time. If you’re repeatedly getting picture retention of the identical factor, then that might be trigger for concern.

Turning down the brightness (managed by “OLED Light” on LG’s units, and Brightness on Sonys) will assist, particularly when you’re watching the content material that causes the picture retention. Choosing a dimmer image mode, like Cinema as a substitute of Vivid, has the identical impact. You’d solely need to do that when watching one thing that causes picture retention, like a online game for six hours each night time, or 24-hour cable information for twenty-four hours straight. 


OLED TVs, just like the 2018 LG proven right here, have just a few alternative ways to keep away from and take a look at to repair picture retention.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Pretty a lot all OLED TVs even have consumer settings to decrease the possibility of uneven put on or burn-in. One is known as one thing like “Screen Shift” (on LGs) or “Pixel Shift” (on Sonys), which strikes the picture barely across the screen. They even have built-in screen savers that pop up after prolonged idle time. You must also allow screen savers on related gadgets like recreation consoles and streamers.

To take away picture retention, the TVs may carry out “refreshers” on a day by day or longer-term foundation. On Sony TVs the characteristic is known as “Panel Refresh,” and LG calls it “Pixel Refresher.” It may be run manually if you discover picture retention or, in the case of LG, you’ll get a reminder to run it after 2,000 hours. 

LG additionally has a Daily Pixel Refresher, which it says “automatically operates when users turn off the TV after watching it for more than four hours in total. For example, if a user watched TV for two hours yesterday and three hours today (more than four hours in total), when powered off the Daily Pixel Refresher will automatically run, deal with potential image retention issues, and reset the operation time. This process will occur when the TV is powered off after every four hours of cumulative use, even if it’s in one sitting.”

In all circumstances the pixel refresher appears to be like like a horizontal line that runs down the screen, for a interval of an hour or extra. It’s designed to even the wear and tear on pixels. 


Here’s the Panel Refresh screen on Sony’s A1E OLED TV. Just like on LG’s OLEDs, it is designed to take away picture retention by scrolling a horizontal bar down the screen for an hour or so.

David Katzmaier/CNET

When it comes to telephones I would not be too involved, because it’s possible you’ll exchange the cellphone far ahead of any picture retention/burn-in points develop into bothersome. Regarding my aforementioned S6 Edge, despite the fact that I seen it, I would not say the burn-in lowered my enjoyment of the cellphone. I used to be by no means watching a video and considering, “Wow, I can’t enjoy this video because of the burn-in.” Since the cellphone has now been in use by its second proprietor longer even than I had it, and remains to be (impressively) going sturdy, it is clearly not a dealbreaker.

With TVs, past the strategies outlined above, there’s not a lot you can do to reverse burn-in. In idea, I suppose, you may create an inverse picture utilizing Photoshop and run that in your screen for some time. This may age the remainder of the panel to extra evenly match the “burned in” space. Figuring out how to do that is effectively past the scope of this text, and you’d need to be fairly effectively versed in Photoshop to even try it.

What about burn-in checks?

CNET has not but carried out any long-term real-world checks of OLED burn-in. In our expertise reviewing TVs, we’ve got seen picture retention on OLEDs that disappeared shortly, for instance after working a sequence of static take a look at patterns, however nothing everlasting.

The most complete impartial checks for burn-in on TVs was run by the aforementioned evaluation website RTings. In August 2017 they started a burn-in torture take a look at with LCD and OLED TVs, adopted by a “real life” torture take a look at in 2018. They stopped usually updating the take a look at in 2020, however that was after the equal of 5 years of regular use on a number of TVs, and nonetheless the felt that most individuals won’t ever have a problem with burn-in. Before you test it out, hold in thoughts what they’re doing is not regular use. You’d have to be making an attempt to wreck a TV to make it look that unhealthy, which is actually what they’re making an attempt to do. That stated, the knowledge remains to be invaluable, and the principle takeaway is that OLED is certainly extra prone to burn-in than LCD.

The recap

You’ve seen a ghostly picture in your TV or cellphone screen. If it goes away after a couple of minutes of watching one thing else, it is picture retention and it is most likely nothing to fear about. If it “sticks” longer, or you’re repeatedly seeing that very same residual picture, it is burn-in. With telephones, you’ll possible exchange it earlier than the screen turns into a problem.

With OLED TVs, it is one thing to hold in thoughts if you’re a TV information junkie, or solely ever play one online game. Keep an eye fixed out for picture retention or uneven put on. If you spot it, maybe change up your viewing habits, regulate the TV’s settings, or run the pixel refresher just a few instances. And if you watch content material with hours of the identical static picture every day, or simply hold CNN, Fox or CNBC on in the background all day, you ought to most likely get an LCD TV.

If you fluctuate your TV viewing habits like most individuals, nevertheless, it will not be a problem. Even so, caveat emptor. Or as Caesar himself as soon as stated, “Conscientiam autem ardeat sed non anxius” (concentrate on burn-in, however not involved). He was, we hear, an enormous iPhone fan.

As effectively as overlaying TV and different show tech, Geoff Morrison does picture excursions of cool museums and areas around the globe, together with nuclear submarineshuge plane carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and extra. 

You can comply with his exploits on InstagramYouTube and on his journey weblog, BaldNomad. He additionally wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, together with a sequel

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