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As beautiful as OLED screens are on TVs from LG and Sony, and telephones just like the Galaxy S9 and the iPhone X, one of many largest potential issues is burn-in. 

Burn-in occurs when a persistent a part of the picture on-screen — navigation buttons on a telephone, or a channel emblem, information ticker or a scoreboard on a TV, for instance — stays as a ghostly background it doesn’t matter what else seems on-screen. 

Last yr the display screen of Google’s Pixel 2 Plus phone showed the problem, prompting Google to extend the phone’s warrantiesApple’s support page for the iPhone X touts that it has been designed to scale back the consequences of “OLED ‘burn-in'” even because it acknowledges that it will probably happen in “excessive instances.” 

In the TV world, some homeowners on YouTube, forums and social media have reported the problem, and the reviews site RTINGS has demonstrated burn-in on LG OLED TVs in long-term exams.

Ultimately, the dilemma is that this: All natural light-emitting diode (OLED) screens can burn-in, and from every part we all know, they’re extra prone than customary liquid crystal shows (LCD). But those self same OLED screens produce higher picture high quality than LCD.

So if the concern of the mere risk of burn-in is your main concern, the choice is easy: purchase an LCD-based show as an alternative. But know that you simply’re sacrificing one of the best image high quality that cash should buy. 

OLED TVs produce one of the best image you should purchase, however they’re extra prone to burn-in than LCDs.


All issues thought of, nevertheless, 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 units in our evaluations. From all the proof we have seen, burn-in is usually attributable to leaving a single, static picture component, like a channel emblem, on-screen for a really very long time, repeatedly. That’s a difficulty if you happen to preserve Fox News, ESPN or MSNBC on-screen for a number of hours each day and do not watch sufficient different programming, for instance. But so long as you range what’s displayed, chances are high you will by no means expertise burn-in.

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 typically used interchangeably, “picture retention” and “burn-in” should not the identical factor. 

  • Image retention is momentary: it goes away in time.
  • Burn-in is everlasting: it does not go away.

Image retention happens when components of a picture briefly “stick” on the display screen after that picture is gone. Let’s say for an hour you are taking a look at a nonetheless image of a white pet (hey, you do you, we cannot choose). Then you determine to look at a film. Let’s say “Best in Show” on Amazon since you’re conserving together with your theme. But as you are watching you’ll be able to nonetheless see the white pet picture, as if it is a ghost on the display screen, observing your soul.

You’re not loopy, in all probability. That’s simply an excessive case of picture retention. Chances are it should go away by itself as you watch stuff that is not the identical nonetheless picture of the pet.

Here’s a bit of a 2018 LG C8 OLED TV display screen displaying a grey check sample after 5 hours watching CNN on the brightest (Vivid) mode. They’re the identical picture, however we have circled the part with the emblem on the precise to spotlight it. To see it higher, flip up the brightness. In individual, it is extra seen in a darkish room, however a lot much less seen with shifting photos versus a check 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 allow your TV on for days or perhaps weeks as an alternative of hours, displaying the identical picture the entire time. Then you is perhaps in bother. With picture retention, often simply watching one thing else for some time will make the ghost picture disappear. With burn-in, it will stay there for some time. Maybe not endlessly, however maybe longer than you need to contemplate.

This is an excessive case, largely simply for example what occurs. In actuality, it will be way more delicate. Watch a variety of the identical TV information station, like CNN within the instance above? Not positive how your coronary heart can deal with that, however for example you do. That station’s figuring out emblem is a first-rate candidate for picture retention and ultimately burn-in. Ditto the horizontal borders of the “crawl” on the underside of the display screen.

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

Google Pixel 2 XL screen burn-in

Burn-in on a Pixel 2 XL, attributable to the menu bar alongside the underside of the display screen.

Josh Miller/CNET

With your telephone, the working system itself is among the probably candidates to trigger the problem. My [Geoff’s] 2-year-old Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge began to get burn-in after a couple of yr. It began displaying up very subtly, however after 18 months I guess most individuals would have seen it. The high information 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 display screen, a video say, and the picture went to a strong colour.

Apple, for one, flags customers of the iPhone X that burn-in is a risk. Here’s the quote from its support page for the product, its solely telephone to this point with an OLED display screen:

“With prolonged long-term use, OLED shows can even present slight visible modifications. This can also be anticipated habits and may embrace ‘picture persistence’ or ‘burn-in,’ the place the show reveals a faint remnant of a picture even after a brand new picture seems on the display screen.”

What’s colloquially known as “burn-in” is definitely, with OLED, uneven getting older. They do not “burn in” as a lot as they “burn down.” The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, right? OLED pixels very, very slowly get dimmer as they’re used. In most instances this is not a difficulty because you’re watching diverse content material and all of the pixels, on common, get used the identical quantity. But if you happen to’re solely watching one factor, that one factor might trigger uneven put on. Visually, and within the vernacular, this put on is known as “burn-in.” Uneven put on is extra correct, but in addition much more syllables.

Burn-in is (often) not coated underneath guarantee

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

“There is mostly no guarantee protection for picture retention by TV firms and show producers. Image retention might end result when customers are out of regular viewing circumstances, and most producers don’t assist guarantee for such utilization no matter the kind of show,” stated Tim Alessi, director of recent merchandise at LG.

Sony’s reply was comparable: “Our guarantee covers product and manufacturing defects. Burn-in shouldn’t be coated as it’s attributable to client utilization and isn’t a product defect.”

The iPhone X’s warranty, and by extension AppleCare, doesn’t apply to “regular put on and tear,” and Apple’s assist web page above makes clear that it considers burn-in “anticipated.” Even the Pixel 2 XL telephone’s guarantee, now extended an extra year, might not cowl burn-in. In CNET’s in-depth report, Google stated the guarantee points can be evaluated on a case-by-case foundation — which is principally a “perhaps.” 

It’s additionally price mentioning that almost all LCD TV warranties do not cowl burn-in. Samsung’s warranty on its customary LCD TVs, for instance, particularly excludes “brightness associated to regular getting older, or burned-in photos.” On its higher-end quantum-dot-equipped units, nevertheless, Samsung markets a “burn-in assure.” It applies to all 2016 SUHD TVs, in addition to 2017 and 2018 QLED TVs. The 2018 model, for instance, reads:

“In the occasion of burn-in from regular client use, Samsung Customer Service (1-800-726-7864) will both restore or exchange at its choice the 2018 QLED TV with the same mannequin.” 

When CNET reached out to Samsung for particulars, the consultant outlined “regular client use” as “use of the product by customers in a house surroundings for viewing content material and/or gaming in a typical method. It does not cowl enterprise use.”

In different phrases, these ESPN logos you see burned in to the screens at your native sports activities bar wouldn’t be coated.


Samsung ensures its high-end QLED TVs in opposition to burn-in.

Avoiding or eliminating it

The truth is that if you happen to do get burn-in in your OLED show, you are just about caught with it. So your greatest guess is to keep away from it altogether. But how?

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

“To keep away from the potential for burn-in customers ought to keep away from leaving static photos on an OLED display screen for lengthy durations of time. For instance leaving a online game paused onscreen for a number of hours or days,” a Sony spokesperson stated.

If you discover picture retention, do not panic. Chances are if you happen to watch one thing completely different, it should go away by itself after awhile. If you are 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 if you’re watching the content material that causes the picture retention. Choosing a dimmer image mode, like Cinema as an alternative of Vivid, has the identical impact. You’d solely want to do that when watching one thing that causes picture retention, like a online game for six hours each evening, or 24-hour cable information for 24 hours straight. 


OLED TVs, just like the 2018 LG proven right here, have a number of other ways to keep away from and attempt to repair picture retention.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Pretty a lot all OLED TVs even have consumer settings to attenuate the prospect 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 display screen. They even have built-in display screen savers that pop up after prolonged idle time. You must also allow display screen savers on linked units like sport consoles and streamers.

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

LG additionally has a Daily Pixel Refresher, which it says “robotically operates when customers flip off the TV after watching it for greater than 4 hours in whole. For instance, if a consumer watched TV for 2 hours yesterday and three hours in the present day (greater than 4 hours in whole), when powered off, the Daily Pixel Refresher will robotically run, take care of potential picture retention points, and reset the operation time. This course of will happen when the TV is powered off after each four hours of cumulative use, even when it is in a single sitting.”

In all instances the pixel refresher seems like a horizontal line that runs down the display screen, for a interval of an hour or extra. It’s designed to even the damage on pixels. 


Here’s the Panel Refresh display 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 display screen for an hour or so.

David Katzmaier/CNET

New for LG’s 2018 TVs is a further burn-in prevention function known as “Logo Luminance Adjustment.” It’s designed to robotically detect a static on-screen emblem and, after two minutes, begin lowering its brightness over a couple of minute and a half, after which the emblem must be 20 p.c dimmer. CNET’s preliminary exams of the function discovered it does cut back emblem brightness a bit, however we do not anticipate it to be a cure-all given the comparatively delicate share lower.

When it involves telephones I would not be too involved, because it’s probably you will exchange the telephone far before any picture retention/burn-in points grow to be bothersome. Regarding my aforementioned S6, though I seen it, I would not say its burn-in decreased my enjoyment of the telephone. I used to be by no means watching a video and considering, “Wow, I can not take pleasure in this video due to the burn-in.Maybe after one other two years if it continued to worsen, maybe it might be noticeable sufficient to fret about.

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

What about burn-in exams?

CNET has not but performed any long-term real-world exams of OLED burn-in. In our expertise reviewing TVs, we’ve seen picture retention on OLEDs that disappeared rapidly, for instance after working a collection of static check patterns, however nothing everlasting.

Currently probably the most complete unbiased exams for burn-in on TVs is being run by evaluations website In August 2017 it started a burn-in torture test with two LCD TVs and one OLED. Before you test it out, have in mind what they’re doing is not regular use. You’d must be attempting to wreck a TV to make it look that unhealthy, which is actually what they’re attempting to do. That stated, the data continues to be beneficial, and the primary takeaway is that OLED is certainly extra prone to burn-in than LCD.

They additionally not too long ago started a extra real-world test utilizing six OLED TVs and a wide range of program materials together with CNN and a few video video games. It shall be attention-grabbing to see the way it seems.

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The recap

You’ve seen a ghostly picture in your TV or telephone display screen. If it goes away after a couple of minutes of watching one thing else, it is picture retention and it is in all probability nothing to fret about. If it “sticks” longer, otherwise you’re repeatedly seeing that very same residual picture, it is burn-in. With telephones, you will probably exchange it earlier than the display screen turns into a difficulty.

With OLED TVs, it is one thing to remember if you happen to’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 see it, maybe change up your viewing habits or run the pixel refresher a number of instances. And if you happen to watch content material with hours of the identical static picture every day, or simply preserve CNN, Fox or CNBC on within the background all day, it’s best to in all probability get an LCD TV.

If you range your TV viewing habits like most individuals, nevertheless, it will not be a difficulty. Even so, caveat emptor. Or as Caesar as soon as stated, “Conscientiam autem ardeat sed non anxius” (pay attention to burn-in, however not involved). He was, we hear, an enormous fan of his iPhone X.

Got a query for Geoff? First, try all the other articles he’s written on subjects like why all HDMI cables are the sameTV resolutions explainedLED LCD vs. OLED and extra. Still have a query? Tweet at him @TechWriterGeoff then try his travel photography on Instagram. He additionally thinks it’s best to try his best-selling sci-fi novel and its sequel

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