Image of Neo QLED TV and OLED TV in versus scenario

Michael Garrifo/ZeDnet

It has been witnessed in the last five years or so TV market Diversify to the point where it is difficult to keep up. Simple LCD and Plasma TVs have been replaced by a veritable alphabet soup of abbreviations like QLED, Neo QLED, OLED, Mini LED, Micro LED, and probably some other variations I’ve forgotten. It’s a lot for a technology writer to keep track of, let alone the average consumer.

also: The best TVs money can buy

In this article, I’ll explain the differences between two of the most popular technologies: Neo QLED and OLED. I’ll demystify each technology, the pros and cons of each, and pinpoint which one might serve you best in your next TV.

What is Neo QLED?

Three Samsung Neo QLED TVs

Three Samsung Neo QLED TVs with 4K and 8K resolution.


Let’s start with the basics. Neo QLED (Neo Quantum Light Emitting Diode) is a Samsung exclusive name for 4K and 8K TVs. The panels use what Samsung calls Quantum Matrix technology, which provides backlighting via thousands of tiny LEDs. Each LED is a fraction of the size of those found in older TV backlight setups. This makes the closest analogue Mini LED to Neo’s non-proprietary QLED (described below in the FAQ section).

also: The best QLED TVs you can buy (50-98 inches)

The benefit of this panel is that you have thousands of lighting zones. On older TVs, parts of the screen that should be black appear gray or milky due to the limited number of light zones. Some older TVs have as many as four for the entire screen. With Neo QLED technology, precise parts of the screen are illuminated. The result is an image with better, sharper contrast between lights and darks and more accurate colors. Color accuracy is also aided by Samsung’s use of Quantum Dot technology, which provides additional light filtration on a pixel-by-pixel basis to make colors more accurate and richly saturated.

What is OLED?

LG 97-inch M3 OLED at CES 2023

97-inch LG OLED TV at CES 2023.

June One/ZNet

OLED is an older, non-proprietary technology that distinguishes itself by using a single layer that provides light and color. Where Neo QLED and most other types of panels rely on one layer to provide colors to individual pixels and another layer to light up those colored pixels, the OLED panel’s pixels provide their own light.

An OLED TV is essentially an array of millions of microscopic, color-changing LEDs. Each pixel emits colored light, which means the number of light areas is equal to the number of pixels. Each one can also be turned off completely, providing optimal black levels.

also: Must-have OLED TVs: The crown jewel of home theaters

OLED TVs have been around for years, with almost every major TV manufacturer producing a version of them.

Which is better, Neo QLED or OLED?

An example of an OLED TV that is thinner than a smartphone

This Sony OLED model is thinner than the Pixel 6 Pro used in the photo.

Rebecca Isaacs/ZNet

As with most technology comparisons, there is no universal answer here. The correct answer depends on the content you’re watching, your budget, your viewing environment, and your personal preferences.

Lifestyle product shot of the Samsung Neo QLED wall-mounted TV

Some Samsung Neo QLED TV models feature the option to display multiple sources and apps simultaneously.


Pros and cons of Neo QLED


  • brightness Using discrete, miniature LEDs for backlighting, Samsung’s Neo QLED technology creates images that are four to five times brighter than OLED panels on average. This makes Neo QLED panels great for brightly lit rooms.
  • Refresh rate While OLED TVs and displays have finally caught up with their rivals’ refresh rates, there is a wide range of Neo QLED displays with higher refresh rates. This refresh rate is important for fast-paced gaming and watching live sports.
  • it costs – There are definitely more budget-friendly OLED options than ever before. However, many models sacrifice port selection, smart TV features, and other useful display technology to reach the budget price while still including OLED panels. Neo QLED, when comparing features versus features, typically comes in at a price tag of at least a few hundred dollars less than an equivalent OLED model.


  • Imperfect black levels While the Neo QLED is one of OLED’s closest competitors for perfect black levels, it still can’t match the contrast of OLEDs. This deficiency is because the Neo QLED illuminates millions of pixels with only thousands of LEDs. The result is minimal, but still visible, light bleeding.
  • to choose – Unlike OLED TVs, Neo QLED screens are exclusive to Samsung. This exclusivity means that if you’re not a fan of Samsung’s Smart TV interface, design philosophy, or the company as a whole, you’re out of luck. On the contrary, OLED panels are made by a large number of manufacturers that you can choose from.
  • thickness – It may seem funny to call the Neo QLED TV thick (most are about an inch deep), but it’s still thicker than OLED panels. There’s a reason why OLED technology is so popular in smartphones. The technology provides one of the thinnest display panels you can buy. OLED TVs practically disappear when viewed from the edge.
Sony OLED TV in a modern living room overlooking the pool

OLED TVs won’t give you a million-dollar infinity pool to look at behind them, but this Sony model will still look futuristic in any living room.


Pros and cons of OLED


  • Contrast and black levels – OLED contrast and black levels are unparalleled. If you watch a lot of content with dark scenes (like horror movies or video games), you’ll have a better experience with an OLED screen.
  • thinness Although most OLED TVs have a section on the bottom end that’s about two inches thick, most of the screen is thinner than your smartphone, often down to 1/4 inch on some models. This slimness provides outstanding visual appeal and quality, especially when mounted on a wall.
  • Typical diversity OLED TVs were once almost the domain of LG. This situation has changed dramatically. Almost every major manufacturer, including Samsung, has joined the party. OLED models are now available in a wider variety of sizes, resolutions, and price points than ever before.


  • price OLED prices have come down somewhat, but a fully featured OLED TV will always be more expensive than alternative technologies.
  • Fragility -All that thinness means the panels can be delicate. Any TV can shatter with a hard blow, but OLED displays require caution when installing them thanks to their ultra-thin display panels. TVs can’t support their own weight, which makes lifting them into place through thicker bottoms particularly difficult.
  • Burn risk – Burn-in occurs when a screen retains residual images that won’t go away, no matter how many times its pixels are refreshed. If you’ve ever had a screen with a permanent ghost version of the Windows taskbar, you’ve encountered this problem. OLED panels can be more susceptible to burn-in than competing LED technology. Although manufacturers have used many methods to combat this problem, and panels are more flexible than they used to be, they are still worth considering, especially if you expect to display stable images for long periods.
A man looks at televisions in a store

Hopefully reading this article will keep you from feeling as confused as this guy seems.


Should I buy a Neo QLED or OLED TV?

There are some categories of consumers for whom I recommend one type over the other:

  • Players or sports enthusiasts – Neo QLED: The extra brightness available, the more common availability of 120Hz refresh rates, and not having to worry about in-game graphics or sports score overlays causing burn-in all suggest that Neo QLED is the better choice.
  • Movie buffs and binge watchers – OLED: If you’re creating a home cinema around your new TV and want the best contrast ratio and richest colors, OLED is the solution. Most OLED models shine most when adhering to the accurate color gamut of big-budget films and recent prestige TV series.
  • Viewers with super-bright living rooms – Neo QLED: OLED’s rich colors and deep blacks won’t matter if the image is too dark to see thanks to ambient light from windows or lamps. Although you can try to reduce room lighting using window treatments or dimmers, this is not always practical. For this reason, the Neo QLED’s vastly superior maximum brightness wins here.
  • Picky interior designers and others who prioritize aesthetics – OLED: The ultra-slim profile of an OLED TV gives it two advantages. First, it makes the TV almost disappear when viewed from the side. Secondly, it makes hiding the TV in the closet much easier.

The truth is, Neo QLED and OLED TVs are great and you won’t be disappointed with either one. There are models of any type of TV that will destroy anything that came before and will likely make you forget any doubts you had the moment you turn it on for the first time in your living room.

common questions

Whichever side of this article you settle on, it’s a good idea to future-proof your purchase by selecting a model that supports the latest HDMI technology. HDMI 2.1, the current standard, supports features like up to 10K resolution at 120Hz, Dynamic HDR for the best color performance, and reduced latency for gaming. Don’t break your budget for an HDMI 2.1 model, but consider whether it’s worth spending a little more on a TV that supports it now so you can stick with that display in the future.

We will focus on the most important and practical ones:

  • Mini LED – Essentially a non-proprietary version of the same technology used in the Neo QLED, but without Samsung’s Quantum Dot layer above it. The Mini LED offers much of the same levels of contrast performance, but not necessarily the same color performance.
  • Micro LED – A technology that promises to finally match OLED by using LEDs so small they can light individual pixels. The technology has not yet reached mass production in full-sized television screens.
  • QLED – Essentially the big brother of the Neo QLED which relies on quantum dot technology to help with color and lighting. Neo QLED outperforms QLED in most categories.
  • Drove – The technology that started it all. This older type of panel typically relies on fewer LEDs in areas behind or around the edges of the screen. LED has largely been replaced by technologies that can produce more precise areas of illumination. Here’s an explanation The difference between LED and OLED.

also: Is OLED better than QLED?

This is a common point of contention among shoppers in the same household. Some say “as big as you can afford” is the answer, but others point out that even 4K looks less attractive when stretched beyond 65 inches and viewed up close.

Samsung She recommends using “Viewing distance (inches)/2 = Recommended TV size” as a rule of thumb. This means you should get a 60-inch TV if you plan to sit 10 feet (120 inches) from the screen, a 30-inch model if you’re only 5 feet away, or a massive 80-inch screen if you’re further away. From 13 feet.

I suggest getting some cardboard or thick paper and mocking up the different possible sizes. Seeing the actual scale of the rectangle you’ll be staring at often explains things better than any equation.

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