How does hardware effect the image? The three biggest factors for any screen are light intensity, contrast, and color saturation. LCDs are typically much brighter and have better color saturation because the backlight can blast as much light as desired, and the extra is just filtered out. This has the consequence of worsening the contrast however, since not 100% of the light can be blocked out. Thus, a ‘black’ LCD image is still emitting some light. OLEDs aren’t as bright or color saturated, but the contrast is perfect since dark spots emit no light.
The viewing angle range is also important. Many LCDs have a poorer range, meaning if you tilt the screen too much the image may become difficult to see. You’ve probably experienced this on your laptop, when the image looks too dark so you have to tilt the screen to a different angle. This has much less to do with the intrinsic properties of the screen, and more to do with other aspects of the phone/device hardware. In short, OLED’s tend to have a better range of viewing angles, but depending on the phone it may be more or less comparable to an LCD.
There are other considerations than just image quality. Power consumption, durability, and pixel density are also important factors. These features are highly integrated issues and depend on a lot more than whether the screen has a backlight or not, but there are identifiable trends. LCDs tend to be more power intensive and more brittle. OLEDs tend to be more flexible, but are much more susceptible to air and water damage, meaning even a small imperfection can destroy the entire screen.
So, all things considered, are OLEDs really worth the uptick in price? Probably, but not just because of the screen. Usually higher end phones have better optimized electronics, frames, viewing angles, and pixel densities, so a phone with an OLED is probably a nicer phone, regardless of the screen. That being said, I wouldn’t completely discount a high end phone just for having an LCD, but most companies have moved away from them.
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