one reason to perhaps be confident that burn-in won’t be a massive problem on Nintendo’s new console, but it should be remembered that OLED panels have come a long way in the past few years.
Now that the Switch OLED has arrived, it’s time to revisit the issue of screen burn-in. We know the Switch OLED screen is supplied by Samsung thanks to Bloomberg. Samsung has been a leader in OLED screen technology for the past decade.
“With modern OLED panels you don’t see much burn-in because the displays have been further developed to actively prevent it,” says Michael Helander. Helander is President and CEO of OTI Lumionics, a leading developer of advanced materials for OLED displays, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.
“They record how long each pixel is on and compensate in the back-end hardware to combat the burn-in effect,” he adds. “Almost 10 years ago, the PlayStation Vita also came out with an OLED panel and received very little feedback on burn-in. Even that was an older version of OLED, so you can imagine that the latest OLED panels are geared towards the original concerns while delivering the performance consumers have come to expect from advanced displays. “
While it doesn’t look like Nintendo used special software tricks to prevent the Switch OLED from being burned in, there is at least some advice on the matter. As discovered by The Verge, Nintendo is adding the following warning to the Switch OLED User Manual:
To minimize the risk of image retention or screen burn-in on the OLED screen, do not turn off the default system sleep mode and ensure that the same image is not displayed on the OLED screen for a long time.
It’s worth noting that image retention and burn-in are not the same thing, although they are often mistaken for the same thing. The image storage is not permanent and disappears after a while.
So what is the problem exactly?
Burn-in can occur on different types of displays if they display the same static image long enough. It happens with phones, televisions, and anything with a screen in general. It’s not just TikTok either – the icons for battery, WiFi, volume, and the fact that my phone is always on vibration are also there, ghostly apparitions in the top right of my screen. On the left, there’s a pretty creepy mix of every single time I looked at my phone, represented by a permanent spectral clock, plus an irritating reminder that I have way too many unread emails and messages because of it all of these notifications are forms up there too. By the way, I have a Google Pixel 2XL, which – according to Wikipedia – has a P-OLED screen (the P, if you care, stands for “polymer”). Reports of screen burn-in on these phones were recorded back in 2017, just months after they were released. The PlayStation Vita has also been reported by many owners of burn-in, particularly when they left the screen on for long periods of time (i.e. while playing games or pausing the console).
When the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) was found to be largely identical to the old Switch, but with – you guessed it – an OLED screen, burn-in concerns began to spread.
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