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What is the difference between LCD, Hard OLED and Soft OLED?

Soft OLED, Hard OLED or LCD what’s right for you?

Whilst I’ll endeavour to keep this post as short as possible it’s a minefield of a subject which is definity worth knowing if you own an OLED based device. 

OLED technology has been used in Samsung devices for quite some time and has recently been incorporated into various Apple devices. At the time of writing this article the iPhone X, XS, XS Max and 11pro and 11 pro Max all came out of the factory with a soft OLED resulting in the heavier price tag. 

So in short what is an OLED and how does it differ from the LCD found in the likes of the iPhone XR and iPhone 11?

OLED (Soft & Hard)

There are two kinds of OLED, Soft Oled (used in Apple & Samsung devices) and aftermarket Hard OLEDs when repairing a phone.

First off, it’s easier to let the differences between hard and soft OLED speak for themselves than it is to declare one objectively better than the other. 

  • Soft OLEDs are pricier, better match the iPhone X’s and 11 range and display size compare favorably to OEM performance.
  • Hard OLEDs are cheaper, perform nearly as well as an OEM screen, but are a lot more fragile!


Soft OLEDs are made of a flexible plastic substrate, which is why they last longer than Hard OLEDs. They are much more resistant to impact. Soft OLEDs also fit better into the frame of an iPhone X than Hard OLEDs. 


At half the price of the Soft OLED, Hard OLED screens are built using a hard glass substrate instead of the flexible substrate found on the iPhone X’s original screen. These come at the expense of display size and durability. The hard glass substrate can’t flex to accommodate the original curve of the display, so the screen has an enlarged bezel that fractionally, but noticeably, reduces the size of the 5.8” display.


LCD is a proven  technology and has been used since the inception of the iPhone. To this date Apple still uses it themselves on their budget range (if there was such a thing) on the iPhone XR and iPhone 11. Whilst to the eye you wouldn’t really notice the difference between an LCD and OLED you will notice 15% more battery drain. The advantage is the cost, as they offered to the market at a fraction of the cost of the more expensive Soft OLED are are far stronger than the Hard OLED.

What should I choose?

The short answer is it depends on your priorities. Do you want to spend as little as possible on a phone or is money no object? How often do you use your phone during the day? Are you office based or away for days? Maybe you just want it to get you to the end of your contract.

Here at Mobile Screen Fix we believe whatever you choose you shouldn’t be paying twice and longevity is the backbone of what we do. It is for this reason we don’t offer a hard OLED option, in our testing  they have proved far too fragile and will only see our customers coming back. After all if they were that viable why would Apple not use them and halve their production costs.

IMPORTANT TIP! Whatever you choose even to the trained eye it’s very hard to distinguish between the three displays on offer so always ask your installer for some sort of evidence that they are installing what you have asked for.

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