Mini LED vs Micro LED: What’s the difference?
Mini LED and Micro LED sound as if they should be the same type of display technology, and they do share a similar outlook. But as you’ll find out, there are differences too.
It’s important to note that Mini LED and Micro LED aren’t in competition with each other, at least not at the moment, as both are being positioned towards different audiences.
So this ‘versus’ will evaluate each TV tech to summarise their strengths, weaknesses and differences to give you an idea of what these two display technologies are all about.
How do they differ?
Mini LED is an advanced version of the LED LCD backlighting technology that’s most commonly used in displays. The LEDs (light emitting diodes) that produce the light for a TV screen are much smaller than a traditional LED, and this pint-sized version allows for more LEDs to be in a display. The more there are, the greater the control is exerted over contrast, brightness and black levels.
Micro LED is similar in that it uses micrometre-sized LED lights, which are even smaller, and each one is a cluster of three LEDs (red, green and blue) that are self-emissive, i.e. creates its own colour and light like an OLED TV can.
This allows Micro LED displays to produce excellent levels of contrast, ‘perfect blacks’ and very bright images. And like OLED, because each LED can be turned on or off individually, it doesn’t require a backlight or colour filter that a Mini LED screen does to produce the images.
To put this simply, Micro LED TVs don’t come cheap. The 89-inch was the smallest size in Samsung’s ‘The Wall’ branded screen and it cost around $80,000. Samsung’s Micro LEDs aren’t widely available either, available for purchase directly from Samsung.
Mini LED TVs are more accessible in terms of price, and can range from being relatively affordable to rather pricey. TCL has a range of affordable Mini LED TVs in the US with its 6-series models, while in the UK, Samsung’s been pushing Mini LED TVs the most with its Neo QLED line-up. Philips also has Mini LED TVs in its line-up, and for 2023 they will be branded as ‘The Xtra’.
We can all agree that the TVs you come across look alike, but Micro LED is not like most TVs.
As mentioned before, they are self emissive, so the LEDs produce their own light and colour. This eliminates the need for a backlight or colour filter to create brightness and colour seen on screen. Screens can be slimmer in appearance and what’s more, these LED lights can be constructed as modules – think of them as the tiles you see in a bathroom.
That allows Micro LED displays to be modular, i.e. you can build a screen of whatever size or resolution (4K or 8K) to fit your living space. If you choose to, you can start at one size and get bigger.
Mini LED, on the other hand, uses a backlight that shines light onto a colour filter, creating what’s seen on screen. Because it uses smaller LEDs than conventional LED screens, its screen can also be thinner, making it a better fit (literally) when it comes to wall-mounting or lighter if the tech is being used for a mobile device. Mini LED also comes in a range of sizes with TVs as small as 50-inches and as big as 98-inches.
As far as we know, Micro LED TVs don’t come with a stand and can only be fitted to a wall. While we’ve stated that Micro LED is modular in nature, Samsung also offers screens in fixed sizes (with no need for a custom installation). They’ve announced a size as small as 50-inches, but there’s no word of when that will hit the market yet.
So which is better? That depends on your setup. Mini LED is more flexible in terms of positioning/placement, but if you want to make a grand statement (and have the deep pockets to do so), you can’t make a bigger statement than a 583-inch 4K screen.
Mini LED are some of the brightest displays on the market. Samsung’s 4K Neo QLED series can hit up to 2500 nits of peak brightness, or as much as 4000 in 8K. This level of brightness is useful when depicting HDR content, as more brightness produces a wider range of colours and tones, and it can be bright enough to stop glare with mobile devices used in sunlight.
Micro LED can achieve the same high level of brightness to depict more natural colours that are wide-ranging in tone. It also means it’s bright enough to resist the glare of sunlight in daytime conditions.
Where Micro LED is more effective is that it doesn’t suffer from backlight issues such as blooming and bleeding. Because of its pixel-level dimming skills, it can switch a pixel on or off at whim, leading to perfect blacks that aren’t spoiled by halos of light.
Blooming can also affect a Mini LED’s taste for contrast, the difference between the brightest and darkest part of the picture whereas, again, that’s not an issue with Micro LED because of its self-emissive screen.
Both have excellent viewing angles, but Mini LED can suffer from blooming at wider angles, and energy consumption is reportedly less from Micro LED than it is for Mini LED.
Which is better?
In reality, it’s not as if you’ll ever have to choose between a Mini and Micro LED TV. They’re not aimed at the same audience.
Mini LED TVs are coming down in price, not as quickly as OLED, but you can find them at prices that won’t explode your eyeballs. Micro LED is an expensive undertaking, with even a small screen size expected to run into the thousands upon thousands.
Out of the two, Micro LED offers the better picture quality thanks to its self-emissive screen, and it can also last for a very long time (as long as 35 years according to Samsung).
As always, it’s not a case of which is better but a case of which suits you best. Any millionaires and billionaires reading this with massive walls ought to check out Micro LED, while the rest of us can make do with Mini LED.