Samsung OLED

In the world of display technology, three acronyms often stand out: AMOLED, OLED, and POLED. Each represents a specific type of display technology that is used in a variety of devices, from smartphones and tablets to televisions and smartwatches. Understanding the differences between these technologies can be crucial for consumers looking to make informed decisions about their electronics. This article aims to break down the differences between AMOLED, OLED, and POLED, examining their unique characteristics, advantages, and potential drawbacks.

What is OLED?

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is a type of display technology that uses organic compounds to emit light when an electric current is applied. The structure of an OLED display is relatively simple compared to traditional LCDs (Liquid Crystal Displays). It consists of several thin layers:

  1. Substrate: The base layer, which can be made of glass or plastic.
  2. Anode: A transparent layer that removes electrons (adds electron holes).
  3. Organic Layers: Comprised of two sub-layers:
    • Emissive Layer: The layer where light is produced.
    • Conductive Layer: Helps to move electrons from the anode to the emissive layer.
  4. Cathode: The top layer that injects electrons.

Working Principle

When a voltage is applied across the OLED layers, electrons move from the cathode to the emissive layer, while holes (the absence of electrons) move from the anode to the conductive layer. When electrons and holes meet in the emissive layer, they recombine and release energy in the form of light. This process is known as electroluminescence.

Advantages of OLED

  1. Self-Emissive: OLEDs do not require a backlight, as each pixel produces its own light. This results in deeper blacks, as individual pixels can be turned off completely.
  2. Thinner and Lighter: OLED displays can be made thinner and lighter than LCDs because they don’t need a bulky backlight.
  3. Flexibility: OLEDs can be fabricated on flexible substrates, enabling the creation of foldable and curved displays.
  4. Wide Viewing Angles: OLED displays offer superior viewing angles compared to LCDs.

Drawbacks of OLED

  1. Burn-In: Prolonged display of static images can cause permanent damage to the pixels, known as burn-in.
  2. Lifespan: Organic materials used in OLEDs can degrade over time, leading to a shorter lifespan compared to some other display technologies.
  3. Cost: OLED production is currently more expensive than traditional LCDs.

What is AMOLED?

AMOLED stands for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is a type of OLED display that uses an active matrix to control the pixels. The structure of an AMOLED display is similar to that of an OLED but with the addition of a thin film transistor (TFT) array.

  1. TFT Array: A layer of thin film transistors that controls the current flowing to each pixel.
  2. Storage Capacitor: Each pixel has its own capacitor to maintain the pixel state between refreshes.

Working Principle

The active matrix in an AMOLED display allows for more precise control of each pixel. The TFT array acts as a series of switches that regulate the current flowing to each organic pixel. This precise control enables faster refresh rates and higher resolutions.

Advantages of AMOLED

  1. Better Power Efficiency: Because AMOLED can control individual pixels, it can be more power-efficient, especially when displaying darker images.
  2. Higher Refresh Rates: The active matrix allows for faster refresh rates, making AMOLED ideal for high-definition video and gaming.
  3. Improved Image Quality: AMOLED displays tend to have better color accuracy and contrast compared to traditional OLED displays.

Drawbacks of AMOLED

  1. Complexity and Cost: The addition of the TFT array increases the complexity and cost of production.
  2. Burn-In and Degradation: Like OLED, AMOLED is also susceptible to burn-in and degradation over time.

What is POLED?

POLED stands for Plastic Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is a variation of OLED technology that uses a plastic substrate instead of glass. This makes POLED displays flexible and more durable.

  1. Plastic Substrate: A flexible plastic base layer replaces the traditional glass substrate.
  2. Same Organic Layers: The organic layers and electrodes are similar to those in traditional OLED displays.

Working Principle

The working principle of POLED is essentially the same as OLED, with the main difference being the use of a plastic substrate. This allows the display to be flexible, enabling new form factors such as bendable and rollable screens.

Advantages of POLED

  1. Flexibility: The use of plastic substrates allows POLED displays to be bent, folded, or rolled without damaging the screen.
  2. Durability: Plastic substrates are more resistant to shattering compared to glass, making POLED displays more robust.
  3. Lightweight: POLED displays are lighter than their glass-based counterparts.

Drawbacks of POLED

  1. Manufacturing Challenges: Producing POLED displays can be more challenging, leading to higher costs.
  2. Degradation: The plastic materials used can degrade over time, impacting the longevity of the display.

Comparative Analysis

Image Quality

  • OLED: Offers excellent image quality with deep blacks and high contrast ratios. However, it may suffer from color accuracy issues over time due to degradation.
  • AMOLED: Generally provides superior image quality compared to OLED, with better color accuracy and higher contrast ratios due to the active matrix technology.
  • POLED: Similar image quality to OLED but with added flexibility. However, the plastic substrate may impact the overall color accuracy and contrast slightly.

Flexibility and Durability

  • OLED: Typically rigid due to the glass substrate. More prone to shattering if dropped.
  • AMOLED: Also rigid, but some advancements have been made to produce flexible AMOLED displays.
  • POLED: Highly flexible and durable due to the plastic substrate. More resistant to impacts and drops.

Power Consumption

  • OLED: Power consumption depends on the image displayed, with darker images consuming less power.
  • AMOLED: More power-efficient than OLED, especially when displaying darker images, due to the active matrix control.
  • POLED: Similar power consumption to OLED but can vary based on the specific implementation and use case.

Cost and Production Complexity

  • OLED: Less complex than AMOLED but still more expensive than LCDs.
  • AMOLED: More complex and expensive to produce due to the addition of the TFT array.
  • POLED: Can be more challenging to produce due to the plastic substrate, leading to higher costs.


  • OLED: Used in a wide range of devices, including smartphones, TVs, and wearable devices.
  • AMOLED: Preferred for high-end smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches due to its superior image quality and power efficiency.
  • POLED: Ideal for innovative form factors, such as foldable phones and flexible displays in wearable devices.


Choosing between OLED, AMOLED, and POLED depends on the specific needs and priorities of the user. Each technology has its unique strengths and weaknesses:

  • OLED: Offers excellent image quality with deep blacks and high contrast but may suffer from burn-in and has a shorter lifespan.
  • AMOLED: Provides superior image quality and power efficiency, making it ideal for high-end devices, but comes with higher complexity and cost.
  • POLED: Brings flexibility and durability to the table, enabling new form factors, but may be more challenging and expensive to produce.

As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see further improvements and innovations in display technology. Understanding the differences between these technologies helps consumers make informed decisions and allows manufacturers to choose the best technology for their specific applications. Whether it’s the deep blacks of OLED, the superior image quality of AMOLED, or the flexibility of POLED, each display technology has something unique to offer.

Image Credit Samsung

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