The LG SM9500 is a great UHD IPS TV with good picture quality and impressive motion handling. It can get very bright in SDR and has excellent reflection handling, suitable for bright rooms with plenty of light. The contrast ratio is mediocre, as expected from an IPS TV, and the local dimming is bad at improving the dark scene performance in a dark room. It has a wide color gamut, can get very bright in HDR, and can display rich colors and bright highlights. The gray uniformity is mediocre and the noticeable dirty screen effect might bother demanding sports fans, but the viewing angles are good and the image remains accurate when viewed from the side. The SM9500 has a very low input lag, even for the most demanding gamers, and the response time is very fast so that fast motion has only a minimal blur trail.
The LG SM9500 is a 2019 upper mid-range UHD LED TV in LG's NanoCell series. It's the replacement of the LG SK9500 in LG's lineup and its competitors are the Sony X950G, the Vizio P Series Quantum, or other LED IPS TVs like the Sony X850F. Some might also compare it to some higher-end VA panels with the new wide angle technology, like the Samsung Q80R or Sony Z9F.
The design of the LG SM9500 is excellent. The stand is plastic with a silver finish and supports the TV well. However, if you nudge the TV, it wobbles significantly. The back is very plain and made of good quality plastic. Cable management is serviced through the hollow neck of the stand. The entire construction feels solid and looks premium, and you shouldn't have any issues with the build quality of this TV.
The stand of the TV is plastic and resembles this year's SM8600, but with a metal finish. Although the stand supports the TV well, the TV wobbles a lot if nudged.
Footprint of the 65" TV stand: 32.6" x 12.5".
The borders have a nice metal finish that give the TV a premium look.
The LG 65SM9500PUA is a thin TV. It's in the same ballpark as last year's SK9500. It won't stick out much if you wall-mount it.
The build quality is great. There are no gaps or loose ends, but the TV wobbles more than last year's SK9500. You should have no issues with the TV's build quality.
The stand has a plastic cover and in our case, the metallic skeleton was slightly exposed as you can see in the stand picture. We fixed this easily by clipping it back on, and it did not affect our testing in any way.
The LG 65SM9500PUA has good picture quality. It can get very bright in SDR and handles reflections well, so it's more suitable for a bright room where it can easily fight glare. When in HDR, the TV has a high HDR peak brightness and thanks also to its wide color gamut, it displays rich colors and bright highlights. Unfortunately, this TV, just like most IPS panel TVs, does not have good dark room performance. The contrast ratio isn't very high and the disappointing black uniformity and poor local dimming support can't help it display deep uniform blacks in a dark room. There is some dirty screen effect that might disappoint sports fans, but on the upside, the image remains accurate when viewed from the side and the TV has very good pre-calibration image accuracy.
The LG 65SM9500PUA has a decent contrast ratio. This is expected for an IPS panel TV. When local dimming is enabled, the contrast ratio improves significantly. This is a very similar performance to last year's SK9500.
The local dimming helps improve the appearance of blacks on the TV. The performance, however, is not very good and is in the same ballpark as last year's SK9500. When LED Local Dimming is set to 'High', it's very aggressive and there is both a lot of blooming and crushing of highlights at the same time. In dark scenes, this creates a lot of flashing and makes the TV almost unwatchable.
We recommend setting LED Local Dimming to 'Medium' where the blooming and the crushing of highlights is milder.
The LG 65SM9500 has excellent SDR peak brightness, brighter than last year's SK9500. The SM9500 can easily fight glare in a bright room.
We measured the peak brightness after calibration, using 'ISF Expert (Dark Room)' Picture Mode, with Backlight set to '100', LED Local Dimming set to 'Medium', and Color Temperature set to 'Warm2'.
If you don't care about image accuracy, you can obtain higher brightness levels. We were able to momentarily reach 1590 nits with the 10% window using the default settings of the 'Vivid' Picture Mode and LED Local Dimming set to 'High'.
The HDR peak brightness is excellent. The SM9500 can get brighter in HDR than last year's SK9500.
We measured the peak brightness before calibration, using 'Cinema' Picture Mode, with Backlight set to '100', LED Local Dimming set to 'Medium', and Color Temperature set to 'Warm2'.
If you don't care about image accuracy, you can obtain higher brightness levels. We were able to reach 1743 nits with the 10% window using the same settings but using LED Local Dimming set to 'High'.
The gray uniformity is mediocre. There is a lot of visible vignetting, but also significant dirty screen effect which will bother sports fans. In darker scenes, the uniformity is better.
The LG SM9500 has good viewing angles, as expected for an IPS panel TV. The image remains accurate for wide angles and the TV is a good choice if you have a wide seating arrangement. This performance is better than last year's SK9500 and the SK9000. For even wider viewing angles, check out an OLED TV like the LG C9.
The SM9500 has poor black uniformity. There is significant backlight bleed throughout the screen. With local dimming enabled, blooming is noticeable around the test cross.
The SM9500 has excellent reflection handling. There is a semi-gloss finish that diffuses reflections across the screen, reducing their intensity. The performance is almost identical to the SK9500. You should have no issues with reflections in any room unless sunlight falls directly on the TV.
The LG SM9500 has excellent accuracy with our pre-calibration settings. There are only minimal inaccuracies that are hard to notice without a colorimeter. Some enthusiasts might notice the inaccuracies in the pure white. The gamma does not track the target very well and thus most scenes are a bit brighter than they should be. The color temperature is almost on the target of 6500K.
After calibration, the LG 65SM9500 has almost perfect accuracy. The white balance dE is significantly improved, whereas the color dE is better but not by much. The remaining inaccuracies are hard to notice without the aid of a colorimeter. The gamma follows the curve very well and the color temperature is close to the 6500K target.
The TV features an auto-calibration feature which still requires the use of colorimeter.
You can see our recommended settings here.
The LG 65SM9500PUA upscales 480p content, like DVDs, well without any obvious upscaling artifacts. When compared to other TVs, the SM9500 has very similar performance to the SK9500.
720p content, like cable TV, is upscaled well on the LG 65SM9500PUA with no obvious artifacts or softening. This is an almost identical performance to the SK9500.
Just like last year's SK9500, the upscaling of Blu-rays and 1080p content looks almost as good as native 4k content.
The SM9500 has a great wide color gamut. It is very similar to last year's SK9500. The EOTF is slightly over-brightening some very dark scenes, but, in general, it follows the input stimulus well until it starts a smooth roll off towards the TV's peak brightness. The 'Game' mode EOTF is almost identical as you can see here.
The color volume on the SM9500 is decent. Unfortunately, just like the SK9500, the SM9500 cannot produce deep, dark blacks due to its not so great contrast ratio.
The LG 65SM9500PUA has excellent gradient handling. There is minimal banding in some colors, but this is not very noticeable.
The Smooth Gradation feature can help reduce banding, especially when there are large areas of banding. There are cases, however, like the pattern in the photo above, where banding is visible throughout most of the colors and shades and Smooth Gradation can not help. Note that enabling this feature can cause some loss of fine details in some scenes.
The SM9500 has some noticeable image retention that is visible immediately after the 10 minutes burn-in scene. The retention is no longer noticeable after 2 minutes of recovery.
While some IPS panels can have some temporary image retention, this doesn't seem to be permanent as the IPS panel in our long-term test appears to be immune.
The SM9500 has impressive motion handling. It has a very fast response time that displays fast-moving content with little motion blur trail, but at the same time can create some stutter in movies. The TV has a motion interpolation feature and a black frame insertion feature that can help further improve motion. Unfortunately, the TV uses 120Hz flicker to dim its backlight, and this might bother some people and does create a few duplications. The TV can display movies without judder from most common sources.
Just like last year's SK9500, the SM9500 uses PWM to dim its backlight. The flicker frequency is 120Hz and this causes some duplications and might bother some people. The backlight flickers at any Backlight setting other than 100.
The SM9500 has an optional black frame insertion feature to help make motion crisper. To enable BFI in the Tru Motion menu, set Motion Pro to 'On'. This changes the backlight flicker to 60Hz but at the same time, you might notice some drop in luminosity.
Some people find 60Hz flicker bothersome.
The SM9500 can interpolate lower frame-rate content up to 120fps. Although the TV continues to interpolate in fairly demanding scenes, when it's displaying very fast scenes, it stops interpolating to avoid creating too many artifacts. When the TV is set to higher levels of motion interpolation, and suddenly stops interpolating due to the very fast scenes, most people will notice a sudden "jerk" in motion.
To enable motion interpolation, enable the TruMotion setting.
See here for the settings that control the SM9500's motion interpolation feature.
The LG 65SM9500PUA has some stutter due to the very fast response time. It is, however, not as noticeable as the stutter you will observe in an OLED like the C9. If you find that stutter is bothering you, then motion interpolation can help.
Update 07/12/2019: The SM9500 is now able to remove judder from 60i sources with update 03.60.04. Different settings are required, however, as Trumotion "User" must be enabled with de-judder and de-blur set to "0" as well as Real Cinema "On".
The SM9500 is judder-free from most sources. It can't, however, remove 24p judder from 60i signals. This is similar to what we observed in the SM8600. Last year's SK9500 is able to remove judder from any source.
To remove judder, the Real Cinema option must be enabled in the Picture Option Settings menu.
Update 11/28/2019: Although not officially supported by NVIDIA, the LG SM9500 works with NVIDIA's new G-SYNC compatible mode when connected to a recent NVIDIA graphics card. Unlike officially supported TVs, like the LG C9, this must be manually enabled from the NVIDIA Control Center.
The LG SM9500 has a native refresh rate of 120Hz. The TV doesn't support FreeSync, but we confirmed that it supports HDMI Forum VRR, using our Xbox One S.
The LG 65SM9500PUA has a remarkably low input lag in most modes as long as you enable 'Game' mode. It supports the most common resolutions and refresh rates and all resolutions have proper chroma 4:4:4 when the TV is set in PC mode, except for 1080p @ 120Hz which doesn't. It has a good selection of inputs and supports eARC, Dolby Digital, and DTS passthrough.
The SM9500 has an excellent low input lag. The TV feels very responsive as long as you are in 'Game' mode. To get low input lag and display proper chroma 4:4:4 you must change the input icon to PC and you can do that from any picture mode.
The SM9500 has an Auto Low Latency mode called 'Instant Game Response', but just like the SM8600, it only works with compatible devices like the Xbox One. When 'Instant Game Response' detects that you're playing a game, it automatically switches to 'Game' mode so that you have the lowest input lag.
The SM9500, just like the C9, supports the majority of most common resolutions.
You can display proper chroma 4:4:4 in all resolutions as long as PC mode is enabled, except the 1080p @ 120Hz which doesn't.
Some of the high bandwidth resolutions, like 4k @ 60Hz + HDR, require the HDMI ULTRA HD Deep Color setting to be enabled for the port in use.
LG advertises that the SM9500, just like the C9, supports a 4k @ 120Hz input from external devices. This either only works with HDMI 2.1 sources or is waiting for a firmware update, as we were unable to get it to work. We will retest this once an HDMI 2.1 source becomes available.
The TV is advertised to support HDMI 2.1, but with no HDMI 2.1 sources, it isn't currently possible for us to test.
The SM9500 supports eARC when connected to a compatible AV Receiver. This allows you to send higher quality DTS:X and Dolby Atmos via TrueHD sound from an external device to your receiver. The SM9500 also supports DTS and Dolby Digital passthrough to a standard ARC receiver.
The sound quality of the LG 65SM9500PUA is decent. This TV gets pretty loud and produces clear and intelligible dialog. The TV has a good amount of punch and body to its bass but lacks most thump and rumble. For a better sound, it is recommended to use a dedicated speaker system or soundbar.
The frequency response is decent. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 71Hz, and thus the TV won't produce any thump or rumble but has a decent amount of body and punch to its bass. The response above the LFE point is quite well-balanced, and the TV produces clear and intelligible dialog. This TV can get fairly loud but will produce some pumping and compression artifacts under maximum load.
The distortion performance is decent. The overall amount of produced THD is slightly elevated, but it doesn't get to the point where distracting artifacts are audible.
The LG SM9500 has great smart features. It runs LG's WebOS smart interface and comes with the most popular apps preinstalled. You also have access to LG's Content Store which has a very large selection of apps, to cover all needs. The interface and the remote are very similar to last year with two nice additions. The interface has a new Home Dashboard feature which allows the TV to interact with IoT devices, and the remote can now act as a universal remote with other devices over IR.
The LG SM9500 has the same excellent interface found on the latest LG TVs. It's very intuitive and easy to use. Although we did not encounter any issues during our testing some apps might seem slightly slow.
The interface has a nice new function this year. The Home Dashboard appears to be the most significant change and it's very similar to Samsung's Smart Things.
The LG 65SM9500PUA gives you access to LG's app store where you can find a very large number of apps to choose from. The TV comes with the most popular apps preinstalled. If there is a specific app you would like us to check for, let us know in the discussions down below!
The remote is similar to last year's remote with a few added features. You can now use it as a universal remote with other devices over IR. This requires you to perform some minor setting adjustments but is great for devices that don't support HDMI-CEC. This is new this year for LG and resembles Samsung's One Remote feature.
All other features of the remote are very similar to last year's. You can still use it as a mouse pointer, which makes it very easy to navigate the interface or you can use the directional buttons if you find it easier.
Finally, there is a built-in microphone that allows you to perform certain searches using your voice.
There are two remote apps from LG that can pair with this TV. The first is the usual LG TV Plus whose interface is shown above and works very similarly to the SM8600. It only allows for very basic control of the TV, along with some very basic voice searches.
The second app is called SmartThinQ and resembles Samsung's SmartThings. The SmartThinQ app has a nice interface and can integrate with other LG appliances, but it doesn't support voice search.
The controls are in the center of the TV. It is a single button that allows you to turn the TV off, adjust the volume, or change channels.