Getting an OLED TV in 2021? Here's What You Must Know About Burn-In

Play this video to test if your screen has burn-in.

The demand for OLED TVs is still on a steady rise in 2021. According to Consumer Reports, more brands are expected to come out with entry-level OLED sets to make it more accessible to people looking for affordable TVs with 4K quality.

However, concerns over screen burn-in are expected to also grow alongside it. But what is it exactly and what causes it?

OLED TV at a Local Airport Waiting Area with Burn-in

What is Burn-in in TVs?

Burn-in is a permanent defect in areas of a TV display that can be caused by cumulative effects of displaying the same image or scene for long periods of time. This usually starts as image retention—when a TV shows what appears to be a shadow of the original image even after it has disappeared.

OLED displays are much more susceptible to burn-in because it relies on the self-emissive nature of its individual pixels. Therefore, when a TV is on for hours, the pixels that light up a static image can burn due to pixel aging with its brightness diminishing to a lower state.


In the past, OLED TVs installed at prominent spots such as the Incheon International Airport showed signs of burn-in that can make customers worry about the long-term reliability of the device. 

OLED TV owners might be able to fix the problem and prevent permanent damage by turning down an OLED TV’s brightness. This prevents static images from appearing on screen for several hours or even days. Some displays have “pixel refreshers” that automatically shift an entire image on TVs by a few pixels. 

Content that typically results in burn-in includes news channels and live sports that show scores, tickers, and logos, as well as video games that show health meters, status bars, or maps on a certain part of the screen. 

Static images partially disappear when switching channels but they eventually become a major cause of concern when the image is transfixed on the same spot for longer periods of time. The only way to enjoy watching their TV again is by buying a new one.

To check for burn-in, a popular method called the gray screen test will let you see image retention and burn-in more clearly. Samsung has also developed a burn-in detection video test for easier checking.

The video that follows allows you to check if your screen is susceptible to burn-in. 

If you’re an OLED TV owner and are looking to switch, consider opting for a QLED TV instead, which uses quantum technology on the pixel level. Its quantum dots, nanocrystals and ultra-thin semiconductors produce pure red, blue, and green light for every pixel, while displaying true black or darkness. This means that the pixels aren’t susceptible to uneven aging, which ensures that the screens are safe from burn-in.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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