OLED TV or microLED TV: which is the better buy right now?

MicroLED TVs are even better than OLED – but they're going to be terrifyingly expensive when they launch next year.

Samsung MicroLED
(Image credit: Samsung)

We've been recommending OLEDs as the best TVs for some time now because, unlike other LED TVs, they don't use a backlight. Indeed, we've got a great dedicated list of the best OLED TVs you can buy as we think the tech is soo good. 

OLED TV pixels are self-illuminating, and that means they deliver clarity and contrast that even the best ordinary LED TVs can't match. But they have weaknesses, too. OLEDs degrade over time, can suffer from burn-in, and aren't as bright as backlit LEDs.

Enter microLED. MicroLED doesn’t suffer from any of those problems. Like OLED, its pixels are self-emissive. But unlike OLED it can reach incredible levels of brightness –Samsung predicts 10,000 nits in the not-too-distant future – and its non-organic LEDs last much longer. In the long term, it should be much cheaper to produce too.

Unfortunately, we're not there yet, and right now the price difference between OLED and microLED is quite big, in much the same way the difference between a doll's house and the city of Los Angeles is quite big. We're expecting to see Samsung's 89-inch microLED TV at CES 2023, and if you have to ask about the price you can't afford it.

How much does a microLED TV cost?

Initial reports said that Samsung's microLED TV would have a retail price somewhere in the region of $80,000, which is about £65,000 before tax. Multiple reports have since said that Samsung has managed to bring that price down a bit, but realistically you're still looking at the same kind of price tag as a really good electric car.

That price will fall – I've been writing about tech long enough to remember the £4K price tag of the first mobile phone, Motorola's DynaTAC 8000X, and the $2.5K price tag of Sony's 11-inch XEL OLED TV – and all new tech starts off ruinously expensive before plummeting in price, but microLED TVs are not going to fall dramatically in the immediate future. 

Right now the main rival to OLED is miniLED, which comes close to OLED quality without sacrificing brightness. I've got one and it's brilliant, not least because it didn't cost me eighty thousand quid. You'll also find miniLED in devices such as Apple's best iPads

MicroLED TVs will be amazing, but for now you should probably file them alongside your flying car and house on Mars. For the next few years the best TVs are OLED and miniLED.

Want the best OLED TV on the market today? Well be sure to check out the LG C2 OLED, which we consider the perfect buy for most people. Today's best prices on the LG C2 OLED can be viewed below.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).