Can OLED Phones Get Burn-in?

So you’re thinking about buying a new phone that has an OLED display but you’re worried about the burn-in issue. Can OLED phones get burn-in? Is it common? Is there anything that you can to prevent burn-in on an OLED phone? I’ll answer those questions in this article.

There are so many panel types and technologies out there, on phones, the most popular are LCD, OLED, and IPS. There are also lots of variations of these panels, too many to list here, and new technologies are constantly being developed. Suffice to say, it’s very hard to decide which display is the best for a new phone. Since several years ago, OLED has become the new standard for modern phones. 

You have probably heard that OLED TVs are prone to an issue called burn-in which happens when individual pixels start to fail which leaves a faded image on the screen. There’s lots of misinformation about burn-in, most of which we cleared up in this article that explains how long it really takes for OLED to burn-in.

But what about OLED phones? 

Can OLED Phones Get Burn-in?

Phones with OLED displays can get burn-in if the phone is on maximum brightness and static images are on display such as navigation bars, app icons, and whatnot. However, much like OLED TVs, it normally takes a very long time for an OLED phone to get burn-in. It mostly depends on how you use your phone. 

With that in mind, while the OLED burn-in issue is a little overplayed, there are situations where it happens much faster than expected. If you’re worried about your phone’s screen getting burn-in, there are some things you can do to prevent the issue.

Testing for Burn-in on OLED Phones: 

The easiest way to test for burn-in is to open an image with a static grey or white colour, set the brightness to maximum, and see if you can notice any faded images. It’s best to do this in a darker room and check the phone from multiple angles. There are also burn-in apps that you can use to check but some are a little suspicious. The most common area for OLED phones to get burn-in is the navigation bar at the bottom of your screen. 

Most OLED phone manufacturers have built-in safety measures for the screen that reset and refresh the screen from time to time. The navigation bar also slightly moves now and then to prevent burn-in. Another point to keep in mind is that displays will always age, and burn-in is the most common sign that a display is nearing its expiry date.

However, you can significantly slow down the ageing process with the tips below, so you can avoid the issue entirely before you upgrade to a new phone. You might even be able to sell your old phone if the screen is still working like-new. 

How to Prevent Burn-in on OLED Phones: 

1 – Reduce the Brightness

The best way to prevent burn-in on OLED phones is to reduce the brightness level. Having the screen on maximum brightness, all day, for months, will significantly reduce its life and increase the chances of it getting burn-in. 

What I do with my OLED Samsung phone is leave adaptive brightness on. When adaptive brightness is enabled, the light sensor will lower the screen’s brightness depending on how much light it detects.

If you’re in a regularly lit home or office, there’s really no reason to have the phone as bright as possible. Lowering the brightness on your OLED phone will also help extend the battery life and reduce eye-strain, so it’s a win-win. 

2 – Use Apps in Dark Mode with a Dark Background

Similar to the previous tip, when an OLED display is showing a dark image, the pixels are actually turn off, and they don’t have a current running through them. Naturally, that would prolong the life of the pixels.

As a reminder, OLED displays don’t have a backlight, they consist of many pixels which light up or not depending on the scene. When showing black, the pixels are off entirely, so that’s the reason OLED screens have such deep blacks. 

The takeaway here is to change the apps and theme on your phone to as dark as possible. If you don’t really care about aesthetics, you could just use a plain black image as a background screen. Most apps offer a dark mode, but you will have to dig around in the settings to find it. And again, dark mode is easier on your eyes, and it saves battery too. 

3 – Turn Off Always-on Displays

Some Samsung phones have always-on displays that show a clock and other customizable icons. Interestingly enough, the position of these icons automatically changes to counter the burn-in issues.

Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to turn the always-on display off completely. You want your phone to not show anything on the screen when you’re not using it. Remember, when the screen shows black, it’s basically turned off, a good way to reduce the risk of burn-in. On that note, consider lowering the screen-time out time too. 

If you follow those three tips, your OLED phone shouldn’t run into burn-in any time soon. 

Can You Fix Burn-in on OLED Phones? 

Burn-in is a sign that your OLED phone’s display is permanently damaged and you can’t fix it without replacing the entire panel, an expensive service. Some apps can reset the pixels on the screen, however, if the pixels are permanently damaged, it won’t fix the issue. 

Is Burn-in Covered in My Phone’s Warranty? 

In most cases, burn-in is not covered in a phone’s warranty. However, if the issue is very noticeable right out of the box, you can usually get a free replacement phone. The reason burn-in is not covered by warranty is that phone manufacturers consider it a usage issue, similar to cracks. It’s assumed you won’t run into burn-in if you use your phone normally. 

The Bottom Line: 

To summarize, burn-in on OLED phones is a common issue, and it can be frustrating to deal with. You can follow the tips to avoid it altogether, but if you already have it on your phone, you might need to buy an entirely new screen. 


Photo by Frederik Lipfert on Unsplash 

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About Tim Gagnon

Timothy Gagnon is a tech blogger and writer. When he's not dissembling computers, he's researching the latest tech gadgets and trends.

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