OLED vs QD-OLED – What Is The Difference?

Here are the main differences between OLED panels (JOLED and LG's W-RGB OLED) and the new QD-OLED panel by Samsung.

Answer:

Just like other OLED panels (JOLED, W-RGB OLED by LG), QD-OLED panels have an infinite contrast ratio and instantaneous response time speed.

However, QD-OLED displays boast wider viewing angles, wider color gamut, higher brightness and better burn-in resistance.

These OLED panels are also differentiated by sub-pixel layouts and coatings.

Samsung’s OLED panels are enhanced by the quantum dot technology (hence the name ‘QD-OLED’), which improves viewing angles, color gamut, brightness and burn-in resistance.

In this guide, we’ll compare how QD-OLED stacks up to other OLED panels, including W-BGR OLED panels by LG found in most TVs and monitors, and JOLED panels by JOLED, which are used for professional-use 27″ and 32″ monitors.

Subpixel Layout

There are three main OLED panel manufacturers when it comes to consumer monitors and TVs – and they all have different subpixel layouts.

JOLED RGB

RGB OLED Sub pixel Layout

JOLED makes OLED panels with the regular RGB subpixel layout. This is the most common subpixel layout when it comes to LED-backlit LCDs as well, and most applications are developed with that in mind. So, you get crisp and sharp text (assuming a decent pixel density) without any fringing artifacts.

LG WBGR

WRGB OLED Sub pixel Layout

LG Display makes 42″ – 97″ OLED panels that use a WBGR subpixel layout, which consists of white, blue, green and red subpixels. These are also referred to as W-OLED sometimes.

The white subpixel is added for increased brightness and efficiency, but all four subpixels are never on at the same time.

Samsung QD-OLED

QD OLED Sub pixel Layout

Samsung’s QD-OLED panels have RGB subpixels but in an uncommon triangular layout.

Both QD-OLED and W-OLED panels can have visible fringing on small text due to their subpixel structure, but these visual artifacts are fairly minor and won’t bother most users; in fact, they’re unnoticeable in games and videos.

Panel Coatings

Another thing that makes all three OLED panels different is their coating.

LG’s W-OLED panels have a glossy finish with an anti-reflective coating. Under strong ambient lighting, this causes mirror-like reflections, but blacks remain black.

In contrast, Samsung QD-OLED panels have a semi-glossy screen coating with less mirror-like reflections, but because they don’t have a polarization layer, ambient lighting causes raised blacks.

JOLED RGB panels have a similar coating to that of QD-OLED.

Overall, all three OLED panels don’t handle reflections as well as most LCDs with anti-glare coating, but they also produce a more vivid image quality without any graininess.

While LG’s W-OLED panels are a bit better at mitigating indirect lighting, if you wish to take full advantage of any OLED display, it’s always best to view it in a dark room.

Brightness & Color

Samsung QN55S95B

LG’s W-OLED panels have the weakest sustainable brightness of around 130-nits for a 100% white window, whereas JOLED RGB and QD-OLED panels can sustain around 250-nits.

This mainly affects regular desktop usage and full-screen bright scenes due to ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter), which preserves OLED panel lifetime and helps prevent burn-in by limiting brightness based on bright window sizes.

For instance, let’s say you have a mostly blank Word document across the entire screen. On a W-OLED display, that would limit you to ~130-nits of brightness. If you were to place another dark window on half the screen, it would allow the screen to reach up to ~300-nits.

These jumps in brightness can be annoying, so in order to avoid them, you would need to set the display to no more than 130-nits brightness, which might be bright enough for some users, but others may find it too dim, especially for rooms with moderate ambient lighting.

JOLED and QD-OLED panels have a stronger 250-nit brightness for a 100% white window, so they can get a lot brighter without triggering ABL, which is why they’re preferred for regular desktop use.

In terms of peak brightness, JOLED panels can reach around 550-nits for 10% and smaller white windows, standard W-OLED panels go up to 800-nits, QD-OLED TVs can reach 1000-nits for 10% windows, while QD-OLED monitors go up to 600-nits for 10% windows, but up to 1,000-nits for 2% windows.

Through the use of heatsinks and the latest Brightness Boosting technology, some LG TVs can achieve up to 30% stronger brightness, allowing their high-end models, such as the G2, to almost match Samsung’s QD-OLED displays in brightness. Here’s how the most popular OLED displays compare:

 Samsung S95B
(QD-OLED)
Dell AW3423DW (QD-OLED)LG 27EP950, 32EP950
(JOLED)
LG C1
(WOLED)
LG C2 (WOLED*)LG G2 (WOLED**)
100% Window Brightness200250250130180190
10% Window Brightness10006005507508501000
2% Window Brightness100010005507508501000

*Only 55″ or larger LG C2 TVs use Brightness Booster for higher brightness; 42″ – 48″ models have brightness closer to the C1
**The G2 series use Brightness Booster in addition to a heatsink for the highest W-OLED brightness

However, even if LG’s G2 and Samsung’s S95B have the same measured brightness at various window sizes, the QD-OLED panel will appear notably brighter. This is because LG’s panels use white subpixels for high brightness and cannot simultaneously achieve very saturated colors.

In other words, QD-OLED panels have brighter colors (higher color volume). They also have a wider color gamut and humans perceive more saturated colors as brighter, further contributing to the overall brighter image.

Samsung’s QD-OLED panels have the widest color gamut with around 80% Rec. 2020 coverage, followed by JOLED (~78% Rec.2020) and then LG W-OLED (~74% Rec.2020).

Conclusion

JOLED panels are intended for professional use, at least the models currently available. Their RGB subpixel layout is perfect for desktop use, they focus on color accuracy and are capable of sustaining satisfactory levels of luminance for what they’re intended for.

Most people will be interested in how QD-OLED compares to W-OLED panels.

Thanks to its high brightness, wider color gamut and no need for white subpixels, Samsung’s QD-OLED panel delivers higher color volume and therefore an overall brighter and more vibrant image quality with less aggressive ABL. They also offer better burn-in resistance and a bit wider viewing angles.

Both QD-OLED and W-OLED panels have an unconventional subpixel layout, so small text won’t be perfect when looking at it from up close. However, this won’t be an issue for most users.

In the end, you’ll most likely choose the OLED panel based on your budget and what combination of screen size, resolution and refresh rate is available. We have a dedicated OLED monitor guide where we keep track of all upcoming and available models.

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Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.